Guardians of the Galaxy 15 Second Teaser is here!!

If there’s one thing both me and Dan agree on is that Peter Quill’s progression from 8os sci-fi Starlord to commander during the Annihalation crossover, leader of the cobbled together strike force against the Phalanx invasion and, finally, wise-cracking protagonist of Abnett and Lanning’s fully formed Guardians of the Galaxy was pretty much the best character development Marvel’s ever pulled off. He came from the edge of Marvel, teamed up with a Racoon and a Tree and put on a cool looking helmet.

Chris Pratt looking a little ill at ease at the helm as team leader Peter Quill

Chris Pratt looking a little ill at ease at the helm as team leader Peter Quill

5 years later Marvel’s lack of choices in it’s next movie franchise led them to a popular fringe title named Guardians of the Galaxy and here we are now. In the unlikely situation in which one of the silliest titles Marvel has ever put out is on it’s way to the big screen. Great times!!

So it’s with some excitement that we present the best news we’ve had in a while!! Guardians of the Galaxy first 15 second shot-fest trailer is here and it looks like fun. Visibly sticking to Abnett and Lanning’s zany run in the Guardians (Gamora, Starlord, Groot, Drax all present and correct) instead of the unecesarily retrofitted Bendis run. Director James Gunn insisted that he was resolutely sticking to Abnett and Lanning’s version of the team for the big screen release. Abnett himself told us that he’d been to the set and was really happy with how it was all shaping up.

There’s one character conspicuously missing though between the bomb bursts, aliens and beasties…..

Zoe Saldana as Gamora, the world's most dangerous woman

Zoe Saldana as Gamora, the world’s most dangerous woman

'I AM GROOT!': Not seeing the wood for the gunfire

‘I AM GROOT!’: Not seeing the wood for the gunfire

Screenshot from new 15 second trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy

Screenshot from new 15 second trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy

NZs Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer looking for his next victim

NZs Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer looking for his next victim

Djimon Hounsou as Korath the Pursuer asks the question many non-readers are probably asking

Djimon Hounsou as Korath the Pursuer asks the question many non-readers are probably asking

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Thor: The Dark World: A Beyond the Bunker review

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BTB Reviews Movie

Marvel’s got a hell of a challenge ahead of it, particularly with Thor. With Robert Downey Jr hanging up his french waiter moustache and goatee until Avengers: Age of Ultron, the weight of convincing crowds that Marvel has what it takes to make us deal out the dosh to see Captain America: Winter Soldier, Ant Man and Guardians of the Galaxy before the next team building exercise and universe bending threat to humanity falls on the not insignificany shoulders of the God of Thunder himself, this time directed by Game of Thrones' and first time blockbuster movie director; Alan Taylor.

Of the three (four) big hitters in the Avengers, Thor's films are by far the broadest in setting and effectively most responsible for setting the outer limits of the Marvel Universe, presenting a massive challenge. It was the villain of Thor (Tom Hiddleston's Loki) that represented the threat in the showcase movie Avengers (we don't call it Avengers Assemble here) after all – so while Thor is the least profitable (by a small margin) and arguably the slightest of the original three movie franchises that lead to Avengers in spite of capable direction from Shakespearite Kenneth Branagh – it carries with it the burden of being potentially the most influential. This film is no different, with Iron Man 3 resolving Tony Stark's story arc until the new Avengers film and the trailer for Captain America making it clear that it's focus is one of internal conflict and very human warfare, the onus is on Thor to kick the excitement for Avengers: Age of Ultron up a notch. This it does with absolute aplomb, a wry sense of humour and a sense of it’s audience rarely seen in an established franchise.

We find a cast very much changed by the events of Avengers, some of which finally have the opportunity to be developed more effectively with a plot that deals much more with the nine realms of which Earth (Midgard) and Thor's home (Asgard) are only two. Most improved are the formerly peripheral and comic book mainstays otherwise known as the Warriors Three (Hogun, Fandral and a slightly less voluminous Volstagg) and Thor's female interest in Asgard, Sif. Though Tadanobu Asano's Hogun is out pretty early on. The film pauses deliberately to present these characters a little better, Volstagg now better realised by the brilliant Ray Stevenson (Rome, Punisher: War Zone) and Zachary Levi as dashing Fandral stirs memories of old Robin Hood movies. Sif's clear love for Thor as a subplot is an interesting and welcome development in Sif's character, though she is used sparingly in action sequences and the first to be removed from the equation when the action begins to heat up, something regrettable as Jaimie Alexander is such a capable actress, Sif an interesting character and both are such bona fide hotties.

Rene Russo's Frigga, as Thor's mother takes a more prominent role in proceedings as well, as the influence she has over her husband Odin (Anthony Hopkins), her real son, Thor and step son, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is the linking subplot that allows three warring characters to find any common ground.

But, hilariously, it's the master stroke of Stellan Skarsgård's Dr. Erik Selvig and his burgeoning mental illness that wins the film over. Rather than sideline him as a result of him being driven mad because he 'had a god in my head', Selvig becomes welcome relief from earnest and worthy moments threatening to become too overbearing and tipping the plot into farce by taking itself too seriously. Kat Dennings' assistant Darcy Lewis and her 'interns intern Ian Boothby played by Jonathan Howard create very neat comic moments and IT Crowd's Chris O' Dowd as Dr Jane Foster's (still ably played by Natalie Portman) doomed alternative love interest rounds out a very well used set of side characters.

Playing Doctors and Norses: Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) meet up in a pub car park....

Playing Doctors and Norses: Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) meet up in a pub car park….

If I haven’t mentioned the primary cast of Hemsworth, Portman, Hiddleston and Hopkins (and Idris Elba as all-seeing Heimdall) it is because there is little change amongst any of them. They are uniformly great, with only Hopkins seemingly phoning it in a little at the very beginning. They occupy the centre of the plot brilliantly, each fulfilling the potential of the characters well. Hemsworth himself proves himself a generous and humble actor in scenes with others, giving a the god of thunder the depth of storm clouds in quieter moments and allowing other characters to share the limelight in one on one scenes.

It is perhaps the familiarity of the archetypes that causes the film to slightly dip in the centre however. Away from the cast of unusual and offbeat side characters the course the characters take is almost unavoidably predictable. Not boring at any point, and peppered with nice moments which will make you laugh unexpectedly. However, the main tract of the tale take second place to the decidedly enjoyable character moments. When the main plot takes over, it can’t help but become a slightly predictable, if exceptionally well paced and directed, fantasy fare.

Aside from occasional hiccups in the edit the film is littered with curiousities and odd decisions that are later satisfactorily resolved, which highlights how this film isn’t being written by template. It can be argued it under utilises a cast capable of greater emotional depth but it does so in order to remind itself that it is a superhero yarn and one that demands a heavy dose of fun and would suffer from too much hand-wringing. Never the less the relationship between Odin and Thor at loggerheads in the first film as a loving father and son incapable of agreeing on anything is satisfyingly realised here. The writing of a character as unpredictable as Loki leaves you guessing how many bluffs and double bluffs you’re seeing with red herrings subtle and layered as the God of Mischief tries to justify his actions enough to disappoint everyone all over again – a highly enjoyable tight rope walk for a sympathetic character – and one that pays off nicely.

Portman’s involvement draws parallels with the Star Wars franchise and there are touches of Padme Amidala in her appearance, but it is the blend between mythology and science fiction, well realised in this case, that makes Thor: The Dark World the film the Phantom Menace and Clone Wars should have been. The idea that technological advancement creates worlds reminiscent of fantasy epics works because secretly it’s an ideal existence, a comfortable blend between nature, control of physics (advanced science giving rise to magic that utilises great power) and balance. Here, the Marvel universe draws together the ideas that the Star Wars saga failed to and it’s exciting and impressive to behold.

Perhaps most notably for a resident of the denizens of London, it looked (with only one exception) like the city we know well, a refreshing change from interesting global landmarks used as interchangable backdrops for unintelligible action sequences or the foppish, lamp lit London of Richard Curtis romantic comedies. Neither does it rely on overly recognisable landmarks, this film is brave enough to put the action away from the obvious tourist track and for that it deserves credit – though recognisable landmarks to Londoners are used briefly and effectively to raise a smile. Having said that, those with a clear knowledge of the underground will definitely take umbridge with one otherwise well placed London Transport gag. Put simply, without showing the Houses of Parliament, St Paul’s, the O2, The London Eye or Trafalgar Square this film manages to depict a city both recognisable to Londoners and attractive to tourists. Something it’d be good to see in other films.

Enormous ideas are realised with effective visual shorthand and a recurring light touch. Happily, having watched a film that involved alien starships, multiple dimensions and gods the thing I admire most about it, particularly after the seemingly pointless carnage of Star Trek: Into Darkness and Man of Steel, is it’s self control. Thor maintains the Marvel tradition of understanding that devastation doesn’t have to be global, total or even city wide. With effective set pieces the final battle, while grand, is geographically contained (at least while limited to this dimension) but is more engaging as a result.

This an incredibly assured debut to mainstream film making, with the risks that Marvel are taking paying off film after film. If any of you are waiting for Marvel to falter, this film most certainly isn’t it. Based on the trailer of Captain America: Winter Soldier and the now traditional title sequence clips, Marvel isn’t going to slow down anytime soon. Unexpectedly, perhaps, the concern over the end of Downey Jr’s run as Iron Man as a franchise in it’s own right was misplaced, his absence now allowing focus to fall on extremely worthy elements of the Marvel Universe. We say more of this and Marvel will secure its place with one of the finest legacies in movie history.

Sneak Peak at Ashfall

I’ve been pretty busy with non-comic gigs for the past couple of months but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t comic projects already in motion. You may remember that a while back I wrote a comic called “Ashfall” for the Unseen Shadows line of books. Well that comic is now coming together nicely and Barry from Unseen Shadows has been kind enough to let me share the first page.

The pencils and inks are by Peter Mason and the colours are by the very talented Darren Brown who joined the project this week. Paul McLaren will be adding letters at a later date (he did Band of Butchers so you know he’s good) and we’re hoping to have the book out in time for Thought Bubble. Anyway, here’s the page and the synopsis for the comic:

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Napoleon Stone faces his greatest challenge, as he sets out to hunt down the very man who trained him! For thirty years Nathan Ash was the best in the business but now he’s gone rogue and Napoleon is on his trail with orders to bring the old man in, dead or alive!

Dan Thompson (Band of Butchers, Moon) and Peter Mason (Cancertown 2) bring you a tale of lies, loyalty and left hooks in the latest action-packed comic from the world of Barry Nugent’s best selling Unseen Shadows saga!

Happy Easter,

D
x

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s Star Wars

I still remain utterly confused on how to work this website since Dan updated it. The fact that I agreed to it had nothing to do with it, there are now a sequence of buttons I have to hit and avoid otherwise I might break the website. Might take me a minute to get the hang of it.

Anyway, this is how I wish me and Dan were when no one was watching. Secretly we bicker like children (well I do, Dan remains stoical and sensible most of the time). In an astonishing lack of awareness of their new status, Frost and Pegg used the production of their first major feature film produced outside of the UK to tit about in the desert in almost the most cobbled together outfits you’ve ever seen.

I love this. It’s just the sort of thing I hope to do if we ever get to San Diego Comicon with Moon. Only Pegg and Frost’ve done it now so now we’ll just hunt Pegg and Frost.

Pegg and Frost Star Wars

Iron Age: The Iron Man 3 Trailer

Hard to know how to follow up Iron Man 1 and 2 and the obvious triumph of Avengers (Assemble). Seems the people over at Marvel Entertainment have a clear idea. Smash everything to bits and start again. Reminiscent of Iron Man’s … um.. tangy.. story a little while back where Hammer and Norman Osborn took everything from him, someone looking suspiciously like Hammer and someone who would no doubt be Norman Osborn if someone else didn’t have Spider-man are taking everything from him…

And Gandhi’s forgotten his oath of non violent protest, found some rings and gone all heavily armoured Sexy Beast. Frankly, I can’t wait!! Great cast and a brilliant premise. The double whammy of two villains in the form of Iron Patriot and the Mandarin has rarely been done well but let’s see what happens here… please, please, please keep it up Marvel.

The original Ending of Little Shop of Horrors, where everybody dies!!

Favourite story I’ve seen in a while. In 1986, the musical comedy Little Shop of Horrors was released to rave reviews and brilliant ticket sales. People flocked to watch the cheerful musical numbers and Audrey II eating people. But according to an interview with entertainment weekly, its director Frank Oz had to completely rearrange and almost entirely discard the original ending after test audiences despised it vehemently – forcing a complete rethink.

Far from the sort of the soft touch you might expect of nervous producers nowadays – Producer David Geffen backed the project wholeheartedly, despite some reservations, but had to baulk at the approval ratings of the first cut. If you’re wondering what it was that soured so many audiences to the first version, it was the brutal death of both main leads and possibly the rest of the world at the vines of carnivorous Alien plant monster Audrey II. That’s right, the bad guys don’t just win – they smash major cities and eat trains.

Here are the recut endings completed by MrGodzilla10 on Youtube, matched to the existing footage kept in the release and Frank Oz talking about the astonishing own goal while trying to genuinely throw an american audience a brilliantly anarchic ending. Imagine it in your mind

‘[Little Shop of Horrors playwright Howard Menken] and I were in David Geffen’s office and we both wanted to retain the original ending, with the plant winning and the key people dying, and David was against that. He said you can’t do that, but again he knew Howard and I wanted to, so David supported us.’

‘ The film was completed two years later and we went to San Jose for the first preview and everyone was very excited about it. This was, I think, the most expensive film Warner Bros. had done at that time. For every musical number there was applause, they loved it, it was just fantastic…until we killed our two leads. And then the theater became a refrigerator, an ice box. It was awful and the cards were just awful. They were saying that they hated us killing them. You have to have a 55 percent “recommend” to really be released and we got a 13 […]

[Little Shop of Horrors playwright Howard Menken] and I were in David Geffen’s office and we both wanted to retain the original ending, with the plant winning and the key people dying, and David was against that. He said you can’t do that, but again he knew Howard and I wanted to, so David supported us. The film was completed two years later and we went to San Jose for the first preview and everyone was very excited about it. This was, I think, the most expensive film Warner Bros. had done at that time. For every musical number there was applause, they loved it, it was just fantastic…until we killed our two leads. And then the theater became a refrigerator, an ice box. It was awful and the cards were just awful. They were saying that they hated us killing them. You have to have a 55 percent “recommend” to really be released and we got a 13 […]

‘So, Howard rewrote it and I shot it with a satisfying ending. The original one was in color, but when we ripped apart the ending, we had to take out the tape and then we had to reshoot the new ending and then retape that for another preview.’

Morrison wants to write Dr Who

According to geek-bible IO9.com, global media comic icon and all round purveyor of weird and cool, Grant Morrison says he would ‘really love to write Doctor Who.’ Clearly something that is likely to be filed too cool to actually happen; those same things could be said of Robert Downey Jr playing Tony Stark, the Guardians of the Galaxy being green lit and an episode being written by Neil Gaiman (already done). Before you dismiss this as mere throwaway gossip – you should know that Morrison has even had mutual friends reach out to Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss. The liklihood is that this’ll never get passed the idle chit chat stage but as Comic Resources said ‘Morrison writing for Matt Smith’s Doctor might just break the universe.’

I’d anticipate a few drafts before one that doesn’t mentally scar children is completed. Can Morrison actually write Doctor Who while still maintaining his psycho sexual, media chic? Love to see him try. If I was Moffat though I’d be worried about an intellectual take-over.

Mad, Bad but Good: Creepy Sick Clip from the Possession

Well, Sam Raimi’s definitely involved in this weirdness somewhere. There’s nothing he likes better than a spot of body horror. It’s not his hands on the creative tiller. Originally titled the Dybbux Box, known as the ‘Jewish exorcist’ the flick containing this little moment is directed by Ole Bornedal – clearly a man of considerable talent and a Raimi graduate. On top of that, Madison Davenport, the main little actress is pretty great in this scene.

As someone who likes Drag Me to Hell, the bit where the Octopus arms go nuts in Spidey 2 and the Evil Dead movies, I’m looking forward to this. For a comparable project, look how good Juan Antonio Bayona and Sergio G. Sánchez’s The Orphanage was under the tutelage of Guillermo Del Toro.

Skyfall: New Trailer and that Olympic moment…

Bond is back – seemingly this time from the death – Mendes at the helm, creepy ass bad guy with a hair colour that doesn’t quite suit him (Javier Bardem, apparently moved on from being a lone pressure gun killer in No Country For Old Men to being MI6’s greatest nemesis to date).

Rumours of the scene, provided by Danny Boyle from excess footage left over from the Olympics, in which the Queen fly kicks a bad guy in the neck at Sandringham, does appear to have been left out of this trailer.

For those who missed it at the Olympic Opening Ceremony (you were one of the 2.3 Billion who missed it, eh?) here’s the quintessential moment in which two icons of the British Empire met for the first time and threw themselves out of a Helicopter….

Doctor Who Trailer – Return in the Autumn

The Doctor is back and he’s seemingly more budgeted than ever. Cyborg gunmen, heavily armour plated suits, a million Daleks and the apparent loss of his current assistant at the hands of them will bear little relationship to what we are about to see happen in the new series to return this Autumn (or Season / Fall for our American Cousins). Certainly looks like the popularity of the good Doctor is fuelling some high end ideas ‘Dinosaurs on a Space ship’ for instance but is this going to unbalance the wish fulfillment / saving the universe with a matchstick charm which made the Doctor so successful before?

Too much ‘I’m the Doctor,’ going on. The old Doctor never needed to mention his name – he did things that proved it, that was the ultimate joy. Will Matt Smith’s Doctor be increasingly a passenger in his own series – most likely in at least one episode that doesn’t feature him that occurs in every series – or is this the one where things start to happen!!

The Angels and Daleks are back – the Silence are nowhere to be seen. The US seems to be playing a big ol’ part in it all now, California or Nevada and apparently Alaska if the snowy bits are anything to go by. Much to be revealed. We’ll see what happens….