Listen to ‘Gobbledygeek’ Episode 324, “Thor: Ragnarok – Friends from Work”

Gobbledygeek episode 324, “Thor: Ragnarok – Friends from Work,” is available for listening or download right here and on iTunes here.

For a return to our regularly scheduled pop culture chatter, Paul and Arlo ride their hammers to the faraway world of Asgard, which is in a spot of trouble. Avenger and heir to the throne Thor Odinson must defend his people from the villainous Hela; along the way, he gets imprisoned by an eccentric weirdo named the Grandmaster and is forced to do battle with the Hulk, his infamous “friend from work.” The boys discuss why Thor: Ragnarok is among the very best the Marvel Cinematic Universe has to offer, what perspective New Zealander Taika Waititi brings to the franchise, what the film says about immigrants (besides cueing up the perfect Robert Plant wail), and if we’ll ever see Bruce Banner again. Plus, they discuss the pop culture they enjoyed during the show’s hiatus.

Next: in two weeks’ time, Paul and Arlo pick up their Four-Color Flashback exploration of Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra’s Y: The Last Man with Vol. 8: Kimono Dragons.

(Show notes for “Friends from Work.”)

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Listen to ‘Gobbledygeek’ Episode 320, “Dunkirk: Beach Battle Bingo”

Gobbledygeek episode 320, “Dunkirk: Beach Battle Bingo,” is available for listening or download right here and on iTunes here.

Sun, spray, bullets, and blood: Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk recounts the worst beach trip in history, as 400,000 Allied troops were trapped by the Nazis in Dunkirk, France. The word Paul and Arlo keep coming back to as a descriptor is “relentless.” 107 minutes of third-act intensity, Dunkirk may be the purest expression of Nolan’s watchmaker-precise skill. The boys discuss the film’s three interweaving time strands, the lack of overt character development (except for that moment), Hans Zimmer’s ticking time bomb of a score, and why the movie never names or shows its Nazi enemies. Plus, Arlo is convinced the rest of the world is experiencing a mass delusion regarding Arrested Development season 4; and the boys take a look at the SDCC trailers for Ready Player One, Justice League, Thor: Ragnarok, Stranger Things, and The Defenders.

Next: it’s another Four-Color Flashback, as Ensley F. Guffey, co-author of Wanna Cook? The Complete Unauthorized Guide to Breaking Bad, joins Paul and Arlo to discuss Y: The Last Man – Vol. 7: Paper Dolls.

(Show notes for “Dunkirk: Beach Battle Bingo.”)

Listen to ‘Gobbledygeek’ Episode 307, “Oh, the Sci-Fi Horror! (feat. Jess Byard)”

Gobbledygeek episode 307, “Oh, the Sci-Fi Horror! (feat. Jess Byard),” is available for listening or download right here and on iTunes here.

Aliens dripping their acidic psychosexual horrors all over you. Artificial intelligence becoming real, seeing and hearing and controlling all you do. Your friends’ flesh peeling back to reveal their true inhuman visage. These are the nightmares conjured by such sci-fi horror classics as Alien, The Terminator, and The Thing, but you may not have seen their likes in recent years. Blumhouse and Birth. Movies. Death. writer Jess Byard joins Paul and Arlo to ask, “Where have all the good sci-fi horror movies gone?” The gang discusses why the genre reached its apex in the ’80s; why it’s so much more difficult to produce (or even conceptualize of) good sci-fi horror these days; and how TV may be picking up the slack. In the middle of all this, technology literally revolts against our hosts. Plus, Paul and Arlo come from the land of the ice and snow to geek out over the giddy Thor: Ragnarok teaser.

Next: a podcast about a podcast. Paul’s better half, Pam Smith, joins the boys to discuss the beautiful, stunning S-Town.

(Show notes for “Oh, the Sci-Fi Horror!”)

Listen to ‘Gobbledygeek’ Episode 228, “The ‘Man Was Not Meant to Meddle’ Medley”

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Gobbledygeek episode 228, “The ‘Man Was Not Meant to Meddle’ Medley,” is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.

Killer robots. Mind-controlling witches. Suits of armor from space. Dudes with frosted tips. All of this and so! much! more! is contained within Avengers: Age of Ultron, the highly anticipated sequel to Joss Whedon’s 2012 extravaganza. The reception has been decidedly less rapturous than that which accompanied the first film, so Paul and AJ dig into what works about the movie, what doesn’t, whether or not Whedon goofed up Black Widow, and just how much creative control a filmmaker can have over one of these things. Plus, AJ makes a case for a much smaller film, Seymour: An Introduction.

Next: Paul got AJ a present. Ominous!

(Show notes for “The ‘Man Was Not Meant to Meddle’ Medley.”)

Paul & AJ’s Top 10 Films of 2013

Let the top 10-a-palooza commence! Over the next couple weeks, Paul and I will be looking back at our favorite things of 2013. First up, films; next week, TV series; and finally, comics. As always, these lists are imperfect and incomplete, reflecting only on what we’ve seen and love at the moment. Or as Paul writes:

I intentionally refer to the films on this list as favorites, not best. I rank films based on how much I enjoyed them, for whatever ephemeral or esoteric reasons unique to me, not on some system of objective filmmaking truths. These are the ten films I liked the most. YMMV.

Regarding omissions, neither of us have been able to see Inside Llewyn Davis, which makes me want to die, but oh well. I also haven’t seen The Great Beauty, Cutie and the Boxer, or The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, among others. Meanwhile, Paul hasn’t gotten around to Her, The Act of Killing, Stories We Tell, Short Term 12, or Blue Jasmine, to name a few.

Here we go!

– AJ

PAUL: 10. WARM BODIES (dir. Jonathan Levine)

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The zombie genre is by this point a bloated undead thing feasting on its own rotting flesh. But director Jonathan Levine (50/50) makes this adaptation of Isaac Marion’s novel fresh, fun, and full of life. Yes it’s a (very) thinly veiled Romeo and Juliet pastiche, but the two leads, neo-nerdhunk Nicholas Hoult and Australian beauty Teresa Palmer, are both engaging and committed. Hoult in particular gets praise for being monstrous and vulnerable, and for selling the cheesy-but-hilarious voiceover with nothing more than his eyes. Also, Rob Corddry as a zombie lamenting, “Bitches, man,” is the best comedic line delivery of the year.

AJ: 10. GIMME THE LOOT (dir. Adam Leon)

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You walk out of Gimme the Loot immediately wanting to know what first-time writer-director Adam Leon is going to do next. His voice is sharp and fresh, chronicling a day in the life of two teenaged petty criminals in a way that feels authentic but never gritty. His Bronx streets are unvarnished, rife with economic and class divisions, but there’s so much damn heart. Newcomers Tashiana Washington and Ty Hickson give performances devoid of pomp or flash; they simply find the souls of these two aimless kids. They’re one of the most affecting screen duos in recent memory, in one of the biggest surprises of the year.

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Listen to Episode 163, “Trust My Rage (feat. Joseph Lewis)”

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Gobbledygeek episode 163, “Trust My Rage (feat. Joseph Lewis),” is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.

In this super-sized episode, Joseph Lewis, original Gobbler and writer/director of the forthcoming pilot Nowheresville, reunites with Paul and AJ to…well, to sort of act as a referee. You see, Paul and AJ disagree on things sometimes. Actually kind of frequently. And anyway, well, one of them is a kilt-wearing cyclone of rage prone to slaughter, and one of them just so happens to be a pre-pubescent hipster who sparks his ire at every turn. Which is a problem when Paul loves Thor: The Dark World and AJ…doesn’t. Despite shifting alliances, Joe does his best to keep the slaughter at bay as the three of them debate the human characters’ relevance, criticize Heimdall’s watchman abilities, and trip all over themselves praising Tom Hiddleston. Plus, the gang talks comics (The Sandman: Overture and Amazing X-Men) and AJ raves about 12 Years a Slave.

Next: more attempted slaughter.

(Show notes for “Trust My Rage.”)

Paul & AJ’s Top 10 Comics of 2012

We’ve already listed our favorite TV shows and movies of last year, and we’ve got a couple more lists just before the new season begins. Here are our favorite comic books of 2012; check back tomorrow for our favorite albums (though, considering our extensively detailed history of not knowing how to talk about music, with YouTube clips instead of commentary).

PAUL: 10. THOR: GOD OF THUNDER (Marvel)

Thor in 'Thor: God of Thunder' #1. Art by Esad Ribic.

There was a period of time when Thor was my favorite character in comics. The golden Walt Simonson era was for me the height of otherworldly sword and sorcery super heroics. And while its been quite some time since the character has achieved anything close to that level of wonder, in recent years he’s enjoyed something of a renaissance. From his “death,” to his literal return to Earth under the guidance of J. Michael Straczynski, to his big screen debut, the petulant son of Asgard is kind of back in a big way.

Thor: God of Thunder is the newest incarnation of the title, with the unlikely writer Jason Aaron giving us a triptych of thunder gods, a tale of an alien butcher seeking to torture and destroy all deities told across three different periods of Thor’s life. We see young, arrogant Thor (pre-Mjolnir) and his first meeting with Gorr the God Butcher; modern-day Avenger Thor going full CSI trying to solve the mystery of who or what Gorr is; and far-future Thor, old and broken, sitting on the throne of an empty Asgard, the last surviving god, waiting for Gorr to finish him. It’s a brutal, bloody, and fascinating premise, though I do wish Gorr was slightly more imposing-looking rather than just being a Voldemort rip-off. Aaron creates a genuine mystery and sense of danger with real stakes for our hero, and the painterly art of Esad Ribic suits the romantic epic nature of the story. It’s not quite Simonson-level Mighty Thor (there’s thus far no Beta Ray Bill here), but Thor: God of Thunder is the best the character has been in a long time.

AJ: 10. ANGEL & FAITH (Dark Horse)

Angel, Willow, Connor, and Faith in 'Angel & Faith' #14. Art by Rebekah Isaacs.

I know Whedon fandom is crazy, but I might just be the biggest Buffy fan on the planet. That’s a huge claim, and while I haven’t tattooed James Marsters’ face on my ass or anything (yet), it really is difficult to describe how much Joss Whedon’s world means to me. Without Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I wouldn’t be here today. You wouldn’t be reading these words and I would have even less of an idea of what I want to do with my life. So it pains me greatly to say that the canonical Season 8 and Season 9 comics, though they have certainly had their moments, are largely disposable and occasionally worse. But then there’s Angel & Faith, which has done the impossible, making a monthly comic book series feel like the weekly television shows we fell in love with all those years ago. Christos Gage knows these characters inside and out, both their voices and their motivations. It’s never a question of if the comic will tie back into the shows’ stated mythology, but when and how spine-tingling those connections will be. These are the characters I have loved for a good deal of my life in a story that’s being brilliantly told by Gage and brought to life with wonderful clarity by artist Rebekah Isaacs. If you’re skeptical about Buffyverse comics, you have every right to be, but this one should be a priority.

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