May 29, 2011

Stay Tooned Sundays: Thor Tales of Asgard

This week’s STS starts out with some great news for anime and Supernatural fans, as Warner Bros. announces that Supernatural the Anime Series is coming to DVD and Blu-ray in the states on June 26. The first season of the Japanese anime series consists of stories which fit in with episodes from the first and second seasons of the live action show. In addition, it has been reported that Jared Padalecki will be voicing his character, Sam Winchester, in all 22 episodes, and Jensen Ackles will also be the voice of his character, Dean Winchester, in various episodes throughout the season. The collection also comes with some great special features, including an introduction to each of the 22 episodes by Jared and Jensen, interviews with the stars and creators, and a two-part making of featurette. Check out the cover art below.

Now that you have something to look forward to, let’s take a look at something that is available now: Thor: Tales of Asgard! As you may have noticed, the release of the Thor live action movie has sparked an interest around here for any and all things Thor-related, and on this column that means a new animated Thor adventure.

Title: Thor: Tales of Asgard
Written by: Craig Kyle, Greg Johnson
Director: Sam Liu
Company: Marvel Animation
Distributed by: Lions Gate Home Entertainment
US Release Date: May 17, 2011
Length: 77 min.
MPAA: Not Rated

This movie can be considered a prequel to both the Thor live action movie and the animated movie Hulk vs. Thor. In it we find Thor to be a very different person than the God of Thunder we’ve come to expect. Having not yet become worthy to wield the mighty Mjolnir and still being but a boy, Thor’s power levels are severely reduced. It is quickly established that due to Odin’s overprotecting of his sons, the young Thor is super arrogant and a bit of a spoiled brat. In fact, it is not until he receives a very humbling and very embarrassing beat down at the hands of Lady Sif that he realizes that he is not the great warrior he was led to believe he was. After a confrontation with Odin, where the All-Father admits to having guaranteed each of Thor’s victories, the young Thunder God decides to go on a quest, outside of Asgard and his father’s protection, to prove his worth to himself and everyone else. Thor enlists the aid of his bother, Loki, to accompany him on this quest, and the duo sneak aboard a ship belonging to the Warriors Three. The hysterical warriors are about to set out on a quest to find the Sword of Surtur.

Thor and Loki soon discover that the Warriors Three have no real intention of searching for the sword, but rather they intend to go to a pub, listen to some good battle stories, and return to Asgard, retelling those tales as their own. Once Loki and Thor learn the truth, they confront the Warriors Three at the pub where the duo starts a major bar fight that ends with the bar in flames. The sons of Odin then demand that the Warriors Three take them on a real quest to find the Sword of Surtur in the realm of the Frost Giants, Jotunheim. From there, complications arise that lead our heroes to the training grounds of the Valkyries, and lead the Frost Giants to declare war on Asgard. With the cloud of war looming overhead and the fate of the Sword of Surtur in the balance, it is up to Thor and his friends to set everything right again and restore peace to the 9 realms.

I found this tale from Asgard to be quite enjoyable, and I’m not really a big Thor fan. What makes this movie stand out to me is the fact that we get to see a new side to these characters that we never have before. Each of the characters has a clear arc, and during this journey they are set on the path to become the adult characters that we know and love. Loki, in particular, who really is the breakout character of this movie, is portrayed very differently than the villain we are used to. I found it much more interesting to see Loki as a loving brother and son with just a glimpse of darkness in him, than the manipulative evil brother we’ve seen a hundred times before. In fact, there is a great moment during the journey where Thor just sits on the floor and gives up, feeling that their quest is hopeless. It is at this time when Thor is at his lowest that Loki steps in and restores Thor’s confidence and gives him the strength to go on. This is something that no one would ever expect to see in a Thor/Loki tale. Loki also demonstrates an unexpected side of himself when he is forced to take the life of a once close ally.

Another twist that I found very interesting and different about this film is that there is no clear cut bad guy in the story. With this being a Thor movie, you would expect for Loki to end up being the antagonist, but he isn’t; in fact, he is far from it! You might then expect that the Frost Giants must be the adversaries of this story, after all, they do declare war on Asgard, but again the movie surprises us by clearly showing from all perspectives that the Frost Giants are doing what any kingdom would do in their situation, and even the way they conclude the war is not villain-like in the least . So, who then is the big bad in this movie? There is one more final, unsuspecting contender for this role, but even that person has valid reasoning for doing what they do, and they are partially under the influence of the Sword of Surtur when they do said thing. The final answer I have is, if there is a main villain in this story, I’m not sure who it is and they clearly are not your typical evil villain, by any means.

If you are interested in a fresh perspective on a classic Marvel character, then Craig Kyle and company won’t disappoint you with this one. Thor: Tales of Asgard is a great action/adventure movie, with lots of humor and heart. Check out this movie because it has a great story that you and your kids can enjoy, and because it even comes with a bonus episode of Avengers Earth’s Mightiest Heroes!

Nick Zamora


One Comment

  1. Great Review.
    I’m a fan of Supernatural, though I am a bit apprehensive about the anime.
    I’m a Thor fan, mostly because I’ve been into mythology ever since I was a young’in

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