The release of a major motion picture based on a comic book is usually a time for comics companies to enjoy a few extra profits. Moviegoers leave the cinema with a thirst for something related to whatever hit film they just saw, be it Hulk Hands, copies of Watchmen, or X-Men costumes.

You would think that the new direct-to-DVD animated feature Thor: Tales of Asgard would be the perfect movie to release just after the live action version of Thor, particularly for kids and teens who want more. There's just one problem: You'd be wrong.
Thor: Tales of Asgard comes from a perfectly reasonable place. It features a teenaged Thor, pre-Mjolnir and pre-movie, and his brother Loki, pre-evil. The Warriors Three have a fairly major role, as does the teenaged Lady Sif. It should have served as a nice peek into Thor's past, something that laid out some interesting backstory for newcomers to the mythos and served as a crowd-pleaser for longtime fans. Instead, it doesn't quite measure up to either, with only the barest of nods to Thor's modern status quo (read: his magic hammer) and characters who are set far enough in the past as to be near-unrecognizable.

The first thing you'll notice when watching Thor: Tales of Asgard is that the visual style of the movie is a bit boring. The Asgard of the comics world is shining and vibrant, like an unholy mix of rustic architecture and sci-fi fever dreams. In comparison,

Tales of Asgard, looks just like every other fantasy movie ever. People wear tunics and cloaks, their swords are generic broadswords, ponytails abound, and ships usually just look like sailboats. We've seen it before, dozens, if not hundreds, of times, and there's nothing new added into the mix to keep things interesting.

The characterization fares a little better, but not by much. Thor is young and arrogant and Loki is learning about magic and not quite the trickster he grows up to be, which means that he's really just a generic young man instead of anyone interesting. Sif is more or less who she is as an adult, but the Warriors Three definitely get the short end of the stick. Instead of being the exciting heroes we know them to be, we're introduced to them at a time when they are not just liars, but failed warriors, as well. They borrow stories from other warriors to regale the townfolk of Asgard.

While there are some deft bits scattered throughout the movie, it all feels very toothless. The characters make things happen, escape from danger, cause more danger, and escape again. There are precious few consequences for anyone's actions, save for minor lectures or menacing looks. You never really believe that Thor is in danger, no matter how much the movie wants you to believe that that's true, and then they backtrack and ensure that nothing bad can possibly happen, anyway.

It is genuinely fun to see the Warriors Three cracking jokes and fighting on-screen, and while Sif's role wasn't as major as I'd have liked, it still led to some nice action. The fights, while underwhelming, do have a kernel of excitement within them. A Thor cartoon is a good idea, the sort of thing that should be a no-brainer, but it just falls short.

Thor: Tales of Asgard isn't bad, exactly, but it's not that great, either. It sits right toward the low end of "competent" on the quality scale. There aren't any major plot holes, and everyone's motivations are believable, if unbelievably cliche on almost every level. As an addition to the live-action movie, it doesn't measure up. As a movie to pick-up and watch... well, it's worth looking at on Netflix Streaming if you don't have anything better to do. It's definitely a missed opportunity, and a huge one.

What did you think of Thor: Tales of Asgard?

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