A wise marketing move, "Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers" hits DVD on store shelves alongside Marvel's big-screen adaptation of the Norse God and core Avengers team member. Yet another Marvel Knights release, "Blood Brothers" isn't without some glaring problems, however, in this case, the problem is more from a marketing standpoint. While titled "Thor & Loki..." the 70-odd minute production focuses solely on Loki, with his older, stronger and heroic brother shackled in an Asgardian dungeon. In fact, "Loki" would have been a better, more honest title and in reality, the source material from which "Blood Brothers" derives was a four-issue miniseries from 2004, originally titled just that, "Loki." That fact known, those not worried about seeing Mjolnir wielded in epic fashion, with such high adventure replaced with a relatively mellow character study, "Blood Brothers" is an interesting one-off diversion.
With a short running time "Blood Brothers" falls victim to simultaneously offering too much and too little. Giving a fascinating villain such as Loki, his own miniseries offers the chance to explore internal motivations and "Blood Brothers" does touch on such areas and given Loki's relationship with Thor, a bit of added family drama sweetens the pot. Yet, more times than I care to mention "Blood Brothers" decides to remind viewers that Loki is supposed to kill his imprisoned brother, when anyone with a passing understanding of comics knows that won't happen. The false suspense in turn becomes a distraction, abruptly ending some inner monologues and character flashbacks.
As an animated piece "Blood Brothers" is a definite step forward again for Marvel Knights. The actual animation of the original printed artwork is a bit more fluid, but still possesses a stiff quality, while the addition of 3D CGI animation is a leap forward from the primitive offering in "Iron Man: Extremis" but still sticks out like a sore thumb. The animators used actual actors miming desired movements and the benefit shows, but it's still not enough of a leap forward to do any more to legitimize a motion comic. As I've stated in previous reviews of Marvel Knights offerings, the initial novelty wears thin and at this point, "Blood Brothers" feels like further in-the-field testing at the consumer's expense and Marvel needs to spend some time away from the public refining things or better yet, pony up the cash to fully adapt the stories into traditional animation in a style that tries to remain faithful to the original artwork if possible.
Technical issues with the production taken care of, the voice cast does alleviate some common issues with motion comics and while it took a few minutes to get used to the new voices of Thor and Loki (with those of Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston stuck in my head), the end result goes far to make the melodrama of "Blood Brothers" far more tolerable than one would assume. "Blood Brothers" is really an odd choice for a motion comic offering as there is one notable action sequence, a battle between Thor and Loki in flashbacks that isn't all that interesting, feeling like a mandate on original author Robert Rodi by executives than a conscious choice. It does serve as a wake-up call to those not captivated by the dialogue driven story of fate and power, but once it's over, it only further highlights that "Blood Brothers" is very talky.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is as strong if not better than the previous Marvel motion comic release. Colors are consistent in tone and not marred by noticeable compression artifacts. Animation is generally smooth from a motion standpoint and static image reproduction, although the CGI additions do pop a bit from the original printed page artwork, but that is no fault of the transfer.
The Dolby Digital English stereo audio track is on par with the better Marvel releases. Dialogue, effects and score are properly mixed and volume levels balanced at a natural, feature film level. There is a bit of depth to the sound, albeit limited, and overall it's a crisp, pleasant sounding track.
The two lone extras cover the creation of the feature from both the storytelling viewpoint and the technical viewpoint, offering viewers a glimpse at the use of live actors to provide reference for the CGI animators.
"Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers" isn't a Thor story, despite what the title claims. It is the story of Loki, finally gaining power and then experiences an inner conflict when all his wildest dreams are on the verge of being realized. The motion comic experience doesn't do a lot to enhance the story outside providing a very competent voice cast to bring the dialogue to life. Technically it's a pleasant looking production, but at the end of the day, even the story like the presentation is a novelty, appealing mostly to seasoned Thor fanatics who understand it's not Thor's story. Rent It.