Thor: Tales of Asgard
Thor: Tales of Asgard 2011
I was originally considering to do a mini-marathon of the DC animated movies after the response to my Green Lantern: First Flight post, but at our most recent trip to the rental store, my wife picked up this movie from the free kids movies section so I figured I might as well watch it. I really had no idea what to expect when I started it, all I knew was the tagline saying something about before there was a hammer, there was a sword. So I knew I was in for a prequel of sorts. I thought it covered a lot of the same grounds as the live action movie, and it had a lot of references to the movie, but in other places it went in a completely different direction. I generally liked it and so did Jena, but it seemed like a really odd choice for an animated movie. Especially when you consider the DVD cover which I chose not to picture because not only does it look nothing like the actual animation, but it appears to be an adult Thor, when the movie is about essentially a teenaged Thor. It’s still worth a watch if you’re a fan of Thor or the animated DC movies. It’s also a PG movie rather than a PG-13 and while it does cover some adult themes such as death and war, it does so without any blood, so it’s appropriate for younger viewers as well.
This movie is essentially about Thor’s coming of age. It has him defying his father and venturing outside of Asgard for the first time in his life which has been spent training with the elite guards who have always been asked to let him win. He ventures to Yotenheim in search of the fabled Surtur’s sword, a magical flaming sword which belonged to a flame giant. He also manages to realize his heroes aren’t exactly who he thought they were, defeating his enemies for real isn’t exactly what he thought it would be, and ends his journey more of a man. It’s a fairly typical story, but there’s enough there to stay interested, and all the main characters have real motivation behind their actions without being just generic good guys or bad guys. The good guys have their flaws, and they do things that aren’t entirely good, and the bad guys have very valid reasons for their own actions. The fight scenes are a lot of fun, and the adventure itself is a generally fun ride. The only thing I didn’t like too much is that Thor is portrayed as able to be bested by the guards he trains against, but by the end of the very short journey, he’s become a much more skilled fighter with little explanation of why he improved so much.
One of the biggest problems I had when watching this movie is the connections to the live action movie, of which there is really only one, which is about Loki’s heritage. There is a lot of other things in the movie that are completely opposite from the live action movie, though as I actually had time to watch the behind the scenes material on the DVD as well as one of the commentaries, I found out that this movie actually stays much truer to the comics and the traditional Norse Mythology than the movie does. Instead of using the Bifrost to travel between realms, they use a Norse style airship, or they travel along the branches of Yggdrasil, the giant tree that connects all nine realms. There’s also the matter of Odin’s eye which in the live action movie was lost when Loki was an infant, but in this movie he still has both eyes when the brothers are nearly adults. There’s also a conflict with the Frost Giants of Yodenheim in this movie when it seemed like Thor and company had not ventured there before in the live action. I also thought that Thor as a character followed a very similar arc as he did in the live action movie, which means that he would have regressed when he got to the events of the theatrical movie, which I suppose is possible but I didn’t think they needed to have his character learn essentially the same lesson twice.
I think that Loki just about stole the show in this movie, if you’re familiar at all with Thor, you would know that Loki ends up being his nemesis. But just like Smallville, this movie sets up Loki in a very interesting way, he is very much Thor’s brother. But there’s also several hints of what is to come in his adulthood. He is learning magic, and he is also already adept at tricking Thor. Although in this movie he only uses it in order to make Thor feel better about himself. He also has a moment at the end of the movie that shows what he is capable of, while Thor makes a completely different decision.
The animation in this movie is very well done, it’s very comparable to the great DC animation, and it has a subtle anime influence to its style. I think the standout part of the animation is the absolutely beautiful opening credits sequence done in a style that reminds me of a Japanese painted scroll. There is some CGI use, but it’s mostly well integrated into the rest of the animation. The characters look great, and the big army battle is pretty impressive. I did think the designs of the Frost giants were a little off putting just because I thought the design used in the live action was so unique and interesting, while this goes back to a more generic style of a giant. The backgrounds of both Yotenheim and Asgard look beautiful as well as the bits of Yggdrasil. There’s also a one on one fight at the end that’s really beautiful being lit by only the light of two magical weapons. I thought it was just a really great movie with fun characters, interesting villains, and beautiful artwork. If you have never seen the live action or didn’t like it then you should give this a chance, and if you did like the other Thor, then this is still a good movie as long as you go in knowing that it really doesn’t connect to the live action version at all. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.