• Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers



    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: September 13, 2011.
    Director: Joe Gibbs

    Cast: David Blair, Daniel Thorn

    Year: 2011

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    The Movie:


    While motion comics have their detractors, you’ve got to hand it to the production team that brought writer Robert Rodi and artist Esad Ribic’s 2003 Marvel Knights limited series, simply titled Loki, to life on DVD. Whereas most motion comics so far have been content to simply ‘move’ characters from various panels across the screen and add narration, voice acting and a score, this latest entry from Shout! Factory’s Marvel Knights line takes things a step or two further by actually using some 3D modeling to bring the concept closer to traditional animation. So, in short, this isn’t a full animated ‘cartoon’ but instead a moving and visually immersive take on the source material – and it looks superb.


    The story takes place in Asgard where Thor’s evil brother, Loki (voiced by David Blair), has taken power. Not so surprisingly, Loki isn’t the nicest of rulers and he treats the citizens of Asgard as playthings. Loki, however, is torn up inside – he wants the respect and the gratitude that his brother Thor (voiced by Daniel Thorn) gets and despite his evil ways, seems fairly convinced that he does in fact deserve this. The only way he figures he can get this is to execute his brother, and it just so happens that he’s captured him and has had him chained up in the dungeon for just such an occasion.


    There’s good dramatic depth to this story which makes it a fairly atypical superhero tale in that it focuses not at all on action and adventure and almost entirely on the relationship that exists between the two brothers. Here the characters are fleshed out to the point where we better understand their feelings for each other and, just as importantly, why those feelings exist. That’s not the say that the movie is nothing more than talk-talk-talk, as it gets violent at times and even manages to get a little bit unsettlingly dark towards the end, but this is a well written and very character driven piece.


    As far as the style goes, the computer graphics match up with the sequential artwork here pretty much flawlessly. Colors are beautiful and Ribic’s soft illustration style is replicated very nicely here. The art gives the story an epic and almost sweeping feel to it that reminds us that as human as the characters may seem, we’re still dealing with ‘gods’ – so expect things to look pretty fancy. The voice acting is also top notch, with both principals, they being Blair and Thorn, adding some range to their characters without ever overdoing it and turning the story into camp.


    Video/Audio/Extras:


    Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers arrives on DVD in a nice 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that replicates the art style well. This is a softer looking presentation than some might be accustomed to but it’s in keeping with Ribic’s illustrations. There aren’t any compression artifacts and as this was all done digitally, there are no issues with print damage.


    The only audio option provided is an English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix, and all five channels are used rather well not just for sound effects but also for the score. The levels are properly balanced throughout and there are no audible defects – the audio really helps enhance the presentation quite a bit and the powers that be at Shout! Factory have done great work here.


    Extras are made up of a fourteen minute featurette in which writer Robert Rodi and artist Esad Ribic are interviewed about their work on this series, and a half hour long three part behind the scenes documentary that shows what went into bringing the comic book to life the way it has been for this presentation. A trailer for the feature and for other Marvel Knights motion comics round out the extras, though animated menus and chapter stops are also included.


    The Final Word:


    A well written and beautifully illustrated comic is given new life in ‘motion comic’ form thanks to Shout! Factory, who have delivered this surprisingly gripping tale on DVD in excellent quality and with some nice extras too.