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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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)

gimmetheloot

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.”)

‘The Avengers’ Review: Marvel Six-in-One

Four years ago, two films gave the superhero genre a much-needed kick in the pants: Iron Man and The Dark Knight. They were on opposite ends of the spectrum–the former bright and funny, the latter dark and gloomy–but both felt honest, and honesty’s something the genre needed in order to mature. This summer sees the release of two films which seem destined to revitalize the genre yet again, and it’s only fitting that they are The Avengers, the end result of Marvel’s first wave; and The Dark Knight Rises, the last of Christopher Nolan’s Bat-flicks. The Dark Knight Rises is still a couple months off, but just as that one looks like it’s angling to be even darker and more despairing than its predecessors, The Avengers aims to be more colorful, rousing, and exciting than those leading up to it.

Any superhero movie that wants to be even semi-successful has to on some level examine the nature of heroism. When one doesn’t, which was a big problem in the period between Spider-Man 2 and Iron Man (give or take a Batman Begins), you wind up with something like Catwoman or Elektra or Batman & Robin. Marvel’s pre-Avengers efforts, which I’ve mostly enjoyed, have excelled at asking just why each of their heroes feels the need to suit up and take action. With The Avengers, an even bigger question is posed. Why would such disparate people, each with their own sets of skills, hang-ups, and needs, come together to form a team? Writer-director Joss Whedon, a veritable geek god, is the one tasked with providing the answer to that query, and he does so brilliantly.

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That Time That AJ Tweeted with Joss Whedon

Okay, the title of this post is somewhat misleading. In actuality, I tweeted a question with the #Avengers hashtag during a live chat with Joss Whedon, Samuel L. Jackson, Tom Hiddleston, and Clark Gregg; then someone deigned to ask Joss my question; then Joss answered; then someone transcribed his answer and tweeted it back to me. But still! It totally counts!

Please tell me it counts or I will cry.

In any case, here’s the photographic evidence:

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On DVD & Blu-ray, 9/13/11: ‘Thor,’ ‘Meek’s Cutoff,’ More

THOR (DVD/Two-Disc Blu-ray,  DVD & Digital Combo/Three-Disc Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, DVD & Digital Combo)

The penultimate pre-Avengers Marvel franchise hit like a thunderbolt! Well, a severe summer shower at least. Chris Hemsworth (Papa Kirk from Abrams’ Star Trek) plays the titular Thunder God, an impetuous and brash young warrior eager to earn the respect of his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins). Instead, he reignites a war with his people’s ancient enemies the Frost Giants, and finds himself exiled, penitent and powerless, to Earth. There’s a rushed romance with a sexy scientist (Natalie Portman); a fun but sadly bloodless battle to reclaim his birthright Mjolnir, the literal hammer of the gods; and a final showdown with his half-brother, the once and future God of Mischief. But the real highlights of the film aren’t the action set pieces: Hemsworth is a joy, with the muscles and the cocky but charming smirk; Hopkins chews the scenery appropriately, adding to the Shakespearean vibe director Kenneth Branagh was aiming for; and Tom Hiddleston as Loki steals the show with his wounded-little-boy-in-the-body-of-a-god routine. My earlier review was perhaps a bit glowing for what is probably just a good-not-great summer popcorn film…but then perhaps not. I look forward to watching it again and seeing if the ol’ Asgardian magic can still enchant me like it did before. Paul Smith

(Originally reviewed by Paul and myself in “The Hammer Is His Penis.” Like Paul, I also wrote a review for the blog.)

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AJ’s ‘Thor’ Review: Almost Thunderous

I’ve long thought that Marvel’s overarching plan for its homegrown superhero movies was absolutely insane–and pretty ingenious, too. Spider-Man, the X-Men, and some other notable players are tied up at other film companies, but Marvel wisely held onto the rights to each member of the Avengers and ever since Iron Man in 2008, they’ve been working on getting the band together. Iron Man had some subtle Easter eggs and a nifty post-credits scene, and it’s a miracle that Iron Man 2 didn’t entirely collapse under the weight of its Avengers teases; The Incredible Hulk, besides a brief scene between Tony Stark and General Ross, was too busy restoring its hero’s rep to get involved. Thor is the next Avenger to get the spotlight and, well, he’s an interesting case.

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