Thor: Tales of Asgard [2011]

This production is not for young kids. We are not saying it is as monotone, adult and unappealing as The Dark Knight [2008]. However it deals with adult themes, diplomacy, betrayal, bitter feminism, some womanizing and a few atomizations.

Why so grim Hogun? Lighten up.

That description may be at odds to an art direction more reminiscent of The Next Avengers. Cutesy Thor and Loki have skinny legs and big feet, not having grown into full manhood. Of course that does not stop them from causing man sized trouble.

Odin fights the demon Sutur. Note the size difference. Yes, that is Odin in the circle. And he won this match too.

The opening credits were pleasingly classy and interesting (especially for a direct to home market release). Though to us they clashed a bit with the stylized, less detailed animation. They also seemed somewhat at odds with Thor’s teenage angst and naïveté.

Could Loki's brooding expression foretell a future path of evil? ...nah.

Is the enchanting Enchantress Amora teaching Loki sign language? We know the question you might be asking, "Why did Thor never go for her?"

How about a one sentence synopsis? Teenaged Thor thinks he’s a man but is really a weenie, so he tries to prove otherwise by stowing away on a mission with his younger brother Loki easily finding a legendary blade no one for generations seemed able to find and causing a chain reaction of events leading to some fried frost giants, war amongst the Asgardian lands, interruption of feminist Valkyrie river bathing, some pointless battles and an ending which leaves you saying, “eh”.

Uh... very inconvenient. Unless you can teleport or fly. Great view though.

Could this innocent looking dark elf possibly be holding in resentment, rage and a hunger for vengeance? ...nah.

This tired story really did not have to star Thor. The spoiled prince, some womanizing knights, the fiery attitude filled girlfriend denied being a warrior in a male-dominated society, kingdoms separated by a fragile truce… Yes you have heard it all before. Thor did not do a thing normally associated with the character. He did not use his hammer, call down lightning, or even utter, “I say the nay!” It is not even “Thor Year One”. It is more like “Thor Year Minus One” (because at least in year one he would get his hammer.)

Sure Sif, train with the Valkyries. That will help your anger issues. (Although we are partial to archers...)

Tales of Asgard was not bad. It had interesting moments and is worth watching. However it carries no surprises, earth shattering moments or a very satisfying ending. And some of the teen angst between Thor and his father Odin was ripped almost line for line from “The Little Mermaid”.

  • Thor/Ariel: “But father I want to see the outside world.”
  • Odin/King Triton: “I forbid it.”
  • Thor/Ariel: “I’m grown up, you can’t keep me here!”
  • Odin/King Triton: “I am your king and your father and you will obey me!”

How did this picture get in here? Wrong undersea king.

Asgard itself was a little hard to pin down in regards to its technology and even era. Sometimes it was ancient Greek, other times medieval England. We are not sure what exactly they were going for. However at least the depictions of the Frost Giants was adequate. Unlike the live-action Thor movie, Frost Giants were actually… well, giant.

Flaming swords and frost giants... No, don't try to make it make sense. Just be pleased they were actually big.

The depiction of the Warriors Three was well done. But they are easy and fun stereotypes to work with.

One of the least fun depictions was the Valkyries. Led by Brunhilde, they were male hating, cold hearted, duplicitous, murderous wenches. That is no exaggeration for the sake of humor or wit. Yet another island of bitter females who “throw off male subjugation” with ill temper and stifled aggression. A sect not satisfied until every female who ever experienced a bump on their romantic highway joins their unhappy enclave. Misery truly loves company.

"See how happy I look? Join us Sif and you will be this happy too."

If you go into this production with no expectations you may get one hour and 13 minutes worth of mild entertainment. Even if some of the characterizations are a little much, the overall plot stayed rather safe, although perhaps a little staid.

It was pretty much nothing like this. Talk about violating truth in advertising laws.

Check out related takes:

Hulk Vs Thor [2009]

Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow [2008]

Iron Man: Armored Adventures Season 1 [2008]

The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes Season 1 [2010]

Top Ten Pretty Animated Shots Vol.02

It is time for another set of animated pictures that is easy on the eyes.  Making this top ten is a little like trying to become an actor.  Many try, but few make the cut.

We liked the visually hard edged rendering of the Enchantress Amora in Hulk Vs Thor.

Hulk_Thor_Amora_Enchantress

While this painting featured in the credits looks nothing like that hard edged version, it is still pretty.

Chun Li remains a crowd favorite – if the crowd hangs out huddled around an arcade Street Fighter machine.  ;)  Here she is from Street Fighter IV: The Ties That Bind.

TopTenPretty_Anim_Chun_Li_Street_Fighter

How does she keep that face so pretty after all those nose-crushing, lip-bashing fights?

Princess Aurora from Disney’s true classic Sleeping Beauty has time-tested stylized good looks.  Below she is dressed as the forest maiden “Briar Rose”.  We like that edged style.

Top_Ten_Pretty_Sleeping_Beauty_Aurora2

Naruto Shippuuden went downhill faster than Balloon Boy’s ill-fated, non-existent flight to nowhere.  Never-the-less, while it is no longer worth a take, it did have a purdy enemy ninja.

Top_Ten_Pretty_naruto_shippuuden_enemy_ninja

What is her deadly secret? Uhh, you do not want to see her without make-up...

Our takes on Winx Club remain top hitters.  The latest is season 4 part 1.  In honor of that popularity we could not pass up including a picture of Flora. If you do not know who Flora is, step back from the Street Fighter machine for a minute or give Naruto Shippuuden a rest for a half hour.

Top_Ten_Pretty_winx_club_flora_a

Jerrica Benton…  How we would like to see your Jem & The Holograms storyline with your deceived but true boyfriend Rio resolved.  We have been waiting since 1988…, so it is overdue.

Top_Ten_Pretty_Jem_07_Jerrica_Greek

At least Jerrica and Rio reaffirmed their love in this final season trip to Greece. Hmm Jerrica, do you dress native like this for every destination? We want to travel with you!

Ariel, the little mermaid’s mother was Queen Athena.  A lot of people seem to be searching for her online.  She was quite pretty as seen depicted here from The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning.

TopTenPretty_Anim_queen_Athena_2_Little_Mermaid

Mom's everywhere, let Queen Athena be an inspiration to you to keep in shape.

Huntik: Secrets and Seekers is pleasantly surprising most who watch it – including us!  So enough with the sad face Huntik Star Sophie Casterwill, you made the cut for this Top Ten.

Top_Ten_Pretty_Huntik_sophie_hair

Huntik_sophie_underwater_skin_diver_casterwill

Did all of Sophie's training include how to look good scuba diving? Ahh, we think it must have.

Zhalia from Huntik is not giving us a long face below, that is her usual stern expression.  But inside she had a soft heart.  Awww.

Top_Ten_Pretty_Huntik_Zhalia_serious

Bonus Poll Picture:

There was a singer in Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman who caught our eye.  She seemed to get a disproportionally large amount of close ups and screen time for a nameless background character.

Top_Ten_Pretty_batman_batwoman_singer_club

Is this supposed to resemble somebody in particular? If so comment who please.

Hulk Vs Thor [2009]

hulk_thor_asgard

Marvel has decided to produce shorter animated films reminiscent of classic scenarios from comics past.  Amongst them a famous encounter between Thor and a wild homicidal Hulk back in What If #42.  After the Hulk killed numerous heroes, Thor snapped his neck.  He is a Norse God after all.

Thor, GoD of Thunder!  Superpowerful heroes need super difficult antagonists.  Here, Thor wrestles with his overly large cape.

God of Thunder! Superpowerful heroes need super difficult antagonists. Here, Thor wrestles with his overly large cape.

That was before the days of the Hulk’s power being exaggerated to the point where he single-handedly takes out the entire Marvel universe.  That is lame and undermines many of the Marvel heroes who are unaffected by strength or use means the Hulk cannot “smash”.

"Thor's scheming half-brother."  Loki had a hard time defending himself against that accusation after this photo of him was released.

"Thor's scheming half-brother." Loki had a hard time defending himself against that accusation after this photo of him was released.

The cool Dr. Strange once opened a dimensional portal and let the Hulk walk right through.  Problem solved.  Also, there is more than one hero who could fly/transport the Hulk to the center of the sun.  What then greenie?  “Hulk smash sun!”  You do that.  See if it works for ya.  Digression over.

Bruce Banner wakes up in bed with his love.  Who knew Betty Ross was a hottie, and that she sleeps wearing a choker.

Bruce Banner wakes up in bed with his love. Who knew Betty Ross was so hot, ...and that she sleeps wearing a choker.

One sentence synopsis time: Evil Loki intended to kill his half-brother Thor by transporting Bruce Banner to Asgard, separating him from the Hulk, and controlling the brute through a spell that eventually fails causing Thor and Loki into an unlikely team up in order to reunite Banner with the Hulk before the raging beast sweeps though all of Asgard’s defenses (and the women who love Thor) and kills the slumbering all-father Odin.

Most of us cannot relate to Thor's problems of multiple suitors vying for his love.

Most of us cannot relate to Thor's problems of multiple suitors vying for his love. Here is one of them, Amora the enchanting Enchantress. With a name like that, good thing she was not homely.

The 45 minute piece is good quality.  The opening credits are pretty and the choral strains remind us of the excellent Mask of the Phantasm.  The entire Asgardian cast is featured.  Thor’s Norse buddies Baldar, Volstagg, Vandral and the humorless Hogun are there.  His loves Sif and Amora trade barbs.

There is a welcome surprise appearance by Frost Giants.  "Hulk smash blue men!"

There is a welcome surprise appearance by Frost Giants. "Hulk smash blue men!"

The fights favor the Hulk.  He is battling a society whose warriors use spears and swords after all.  Thor did not use his whole arsenal, but at least added lightning.  While he held his own, the Hulk eventually smashed him down.  We think it should have been more of a draw.

hulk_thor_sif

It is an age old argument amongst geeks.  It is our opinion that Thor’s full arsenal can defeat the Hulk.  Flying, lightning, intelligence, and especially dimension spanning with his mighty hammer Mjollnir.  The two are of comparable strength.  Thor may be only one who is.

That is what we are talking about.  Thor lives up to his "God of Thunder" moniker versus the brute Hulk.

That is what we are talking about. Thor lives up to his "God of Thunder" moniker versus the Hulk. (Well... at least for this one scene. Other times he just lies there getting pounded like steak.)

Also we think the formidable magic of Asgard should do more than a few commonplace energy blasts.  What about all that famous trickery?  Why not surround the Hulk in darkness, or do something else.  He is only a mortal in the land of the gods, albeit a very strong one.

The Enchantress seemed to have a lot more tricks when working for the wrong side.  Does Amora need to be reminded that Loki is "the wrong crowd"?

The Enchantress seemed to have a lot more tricks when working for the wrong side. Does Amora need to be reminded that Loki is "the wrong crowd"?

Still, the story was paced well enough, moved along nicely and built to a decent climax.  It was entertaining the whole way.  The dramatic story and music fit the serious Asgardian Mythos.

Loki's Daughter is no friend of Thor.  She is the ruler of the Asgardian underworld, and even seems at odds with her father.  Kids these days.

Loki's daughter Hela is no friend of Thor. She is the ruler of the Asgardian underworld, and even seems at odds with her father. Kids these days.

The art direction was bold.  Their take on Asgard was more city-like than I envisioned or remember, but it worked.  (See top pic.)  The character art varied.  On Thor’s buddies it was very traditional and true to the comics.  Thor’s girls, especially Sif were more hard-edged and angular.  She and Thor were the most stylized.

hulk_thor_sif3

It was good to see Sif and the Enchantress (Amora) in action.  Sif lived up to the warrior reputation you would expect out of Thor’s sometimes girlfriend.

Sif:  "Dost thou thinketh this sword be only for show?"

Sif: "Dost thou thinketh this sword be only for show?"

A nice touch during the battle between Thor and the Loki-controlled Hulk was when the brute tries to use Thor’s hammer.  Comic fans know that ancient magics on that hammer will not allow it to be lifted by anyone “unworthy”.  (Hence the surprise when Beta Ray Bill did so years ago in Simonson’s seminal Thor 337.)  Only the inscription saying so appearing on the hammer would have made it better.

thor-338

Worth watching.