Listen to Gobbledygeek Episode 366 – “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (feat. Eric Sipple)”

Still from ‘How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,’ featuring Toothless and Hiccup (Jay Baruchel). Directed by Dean DeBlois.

Gobbledygeek episode 366, “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (feat. Eric Sipple),” is available for listening or download right here and on iTunes here.

Paul and Arlo return to the land of Berk one last time for a discussion of How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. Joining them is their fellow dragon rider (and The Deli Counter of Justice co-editor) Eric Sipple. The gang discusses their journey through the years with Hiccup and Toothless, whether or not the supporting cast weighs the series down, writer-director Dean DeBlois’ original intentions for the villain, and their differing interpretations of the conclusion.

Next: enter the void.

(Show notes for “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.”)

Listen to ‘The Avatar Returns’ Episode 28

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The Avatar Returns episode 28 is available for listening or download right here and on iTunes here.

This week The Avatar Returns returns to the Avatar. We continue our discussion of Dark Horse Comics’ ongoing Avatar: The Last Airbender graphic novel series with Volume 2 – The Search. We talk about how the shift from the larger, more epic story told in Volume 1 – The Promise to this much smaller, more intimate tale works for us, and more importantly for the characters. Whereas the previous book explored issues we didn’t even know we wanted to explore, such as colonialism and cultural appropriation, this book focuses on the bonds of family, born and found, particularly the relationship between brothers and sisters. It also addresses ideas of identity, be they physical, societal, or emotional. We praise writer Gene Luen Yang’s astounding gift for continuing and building on this world and these characters we’ve come to love so much. And we wax embarrassingly rhapsodic about the work of art duo Gurihiru, which just keeps getting better with every volume, every chapter, every page.

There’s also banter this week. We say just a few words (for now) about the first season of DreamWorks’ Voltron: Legendary Defender, and we say way too many words about “adult” coloring books. Seriously, no one cares as much about these things as at least one of our hosts apparently does.

Next: we take a week off in a desperate attempt to prepare ourselves for the following week’s watch of director M. Night Shyamalan’s 2010 “masterpiece,” The Last Airbender. (We promise, The Legend of Korra Book Two is coming. Assuming we survive this.)

(Show notes for The Avatar Returns episode 28.)

Paul & AJ’s Top 10 Films of 2014

The new year is less than two days old, so once again, it’s time to look back to our favorites of last year. As always, lists are imperfect, incomplete, and totally subject to change upon reflection and the passage of time.

We’ll start with Paul; he remains skeptical of this whole top 10 business, so this year, his contributions to our lists (including comics, albums, and TV shows) will be presented without comment.

(Mine, of course, will probably say too much.)

~ AJ

PAUL’S FAVORITE (NOT BEST) FILMS OF 2014
10. Boyhood (dir. Richard Linklater)
9. Interstellar (dir. Christopher Nolan)
8. Maleficent (dir. Robert Stromberg)
7. Only Lovers Left Alive (dir. Jim Jarmusch)
6. The LEGO Movie (dirs. Phil Lord & Christopher Miller)
5. Guardians of the Galaxy (dir. James Gunn)
4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (dirs. Joe & Anthony Russo)
3. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (dir. Matt Reeves)
2. Big Hero 6 (dirs. Don Hall & Chris Williams)
1. How to Train Your Dragon 2 (dir. Dean DeBlois)

HONORABLE MENTIONS
Snowpiercer (dir. Bong Joon-ho)
Edge of Tomorrow (dir. Doug Liman)
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (dir. Francis Lawrence)
X-Men: Days of Future Past (dir. Bryan Singer)
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (dir. Marc Webb)

DIDN’T SEE
Birdman (dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu)
Force Majeure (dir. Ruben Ostlund)
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (dir. Peter Jackson)

AJ’S TOP 10 FILMS OF 2014

10. BIRDMAN (dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu)

Film Review Birdman

“A thing is a thing, not what is said of that thing,” reads the quote (sometimes attributed to Susan Sontag) stuck to Riggan Thomson’s mirror. One imagines the former superhero actor, played by a back-and-swinging-for-the-fences Michael Keaton, clings to that mantra as he negotiates a shot at artistic integrity with his paranoid need to be loved. It also serves as a warning to anyone trying to dissect the film or Iñárritu’s intentions. After making a career out of overwhelmingly somber dramas, Iñárritu has made a frenzied comedy propelled by a furious drum score from Antonio Sanchez. He also peppers the film with flights of insanity, in which Riggan has telekinetic powers or takes to the skies just like his old alter ego. How much of this is real? What does the film’s beautiful final shot mean? There’s a lot to be said, but you can also take Birdman for the absurd, chaotic, hilarious thing it is.

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Listen to Episode 187, “How to Train Your Paul 2 (feat. Eric Sipple)”

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2

Gobbledygeek episode 187, “How to Train Your Paul 2 (feat. Eric Sipple),” is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.

Welcome back to the land of Berk, where the dragons soar, the adults have Scottish accents, and the kids have grown up. Frenemy Eric Sipple joins Paul and AJ to discuss How to Train Your Dragon 2, which–spoiler alert–they all agree is a fine film indeed. Among the points of discussion are the more mature tone, the stunning animation (with an assist from the great Roger Deakins), and Cate Blanchett’s role as Valka, Hiccup’s mother. In a strong year for sequels, this is one of the strongest, and we’re here to tell you why. Plus, in other dragon-related news, the gang dissects the Game of Thrones season finale.

Next: getting back on our track with our monthly Four-Color Flashback series discussing Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman. Greg Sahadachny of The Debatable Podcast joins us for an analysis of Vol. III – Dream Country.

(Show notes for “How to Train Your Paul 2.”)

Listen to Our Commentary Track for ‘How to Train Your Dragon’

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Our commentary track for How to Train Your Dragon is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.

With How to Train Your Dragon 2 prepared to soar into theaters this weekend, you’d better believe superfan Paul was going to find some way to celebrate it. And celebrate it he has, with frequent guests Eric Sipple and Kenn Edwards joining Paul and AJ for a commentary of the first film. The gang discusses how the film overcame their initial low expectations, why having Roger Deakins as a “visual consultant” was crucial, the way the movie expertly moves the plot forward at only 90 minutes, and which of them is a dog person (much to the shame of the other three). Watch along and enjoy.

‘The Pirates! Band of Misfits’ Review: A Few Chuckles on the High Seas

I like pirates. I enjoy inherently silly things. I’m an admirer of Aardman Animations, having greatly enjoyed Wallace & Gromit and Chicken Run. I guffawed at the trailer for The Pirates! Band of Misfits enough times that I ventured out to see a children’s movie on a Sunday afternoon all by my lonesome, then felt super awkward when dads started filing in with their kids. So it’s with some puzzlement that I report that Pirates! has few belly laughs, and perhaps worse, nothing that makes it particularly memorable.

For a film with a runtime of 88 minutes, the first half-hour feels like a laborious set-up for a plot that doesn’t really need to be set up. The Pirate Captain (voiced by Hugh Grant) doesn’t exactly inspire fear on the high seas, manning a crew that’s strictly amateur hour; each one has as descriptive a name as their captain, such as the Pirate with a Scarf (Martin Freeman), the Pirate with Gout (Brendan Gleeson), or my personal favorite, the Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate (Ashley Jensen), a play on that old trope whereby girl pirates disguise themselves as boy pirates. Despite his ineptitude, the Cap’n still has his sights set on winning the Pirate of the Year trophy.

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