Sam Liu steps back into the director’s chair for Marvel/Lionsgate’s latest animated direct-to-DVD movie to hit the street, namely Thor: Tales of Asgard – and to be honest, it’s another competent, enjoyable outing from him!

Thor: Tales of Asgard delivers to us a tale of a hot-headed, impetuous teenage Thor, well before he ever lifted the mighty Mjolnir – basically when he was nothing more than a prince confined to his kingdom, trying to impress his father by proving his manhood against all comers. After a heated argument with Odin, Thor decides to pick up on a coming of age tradition amongst Asgard’s young men, to head out in search of a legendary sword that has been missing since Odin defeated its demon bearer in the land of the Frost Giants.

Sneaking out of Asgard with his magic-wielding brother Loki aboard the ship of the Warriors Three, Thor’s quest leads them deep into the heart of the enemy territory where they discover the fabled sword, but which in turn initiates a chain of events that leads to all out war as the Frost Giants attack Asgard in an attempt to reclaim what is “rightfully” theirs!

Thor: Tales of Asgard is the eight Marvel release, and despite presenting us a Thor which no one is familiar with, it is quite an enjoyable tale, being a well written, self-contained story that pushes all the right buttons in terms of humor and action, delivers a decent message to the viewer, and is actually pretty likeable despite the decision to cast such a young Avenger. In amongst this, it even manages to hide a decent and unexpected twist, making it quite the enjoyable outing for both newcomers and long time comic book fans.

On the art front, Thor: Tales of Asgard adopts a slightly more cartoonish approach to character design and animation (with particularly silly looking feet), but makes up for this with some gorgeous backgrounds and a striking color palette that raises the overall look of the film. The action and fight sequences are well choreographed and very slickly done, making for some pretty exciting viewing at times.

The voice actors employed are all enjoyable to take in, but there is a dissonance in the age of the voices versus the age of the characters, so it does take some time to get over this. Nevertheless, backed by a great musical score, Thor: Tales of Asgard does come out sounding pretty good.

In summary, this is once again a polished product that offers enough frames of reference for long time fans of comic book Asgard, but at the same time introduces a fresh new spin on old characters which makes for an exciting, enjoyable, and action-packed animated movie outing. It certainly isn’t the most mature of titles out there (unlike the recent slew of DC direct to DVD releases like Batman: Year One for example), but then again, that isn’t the target market (this one fits in more along the Next Avengers line). You and your kids are sure to enjoy it together, and that is pretty much all that counts! :)

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