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.

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.

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….

BTB Investigates: Avengers / Guardians of the Galaxy Crossover Movie?

There are times when something really different finds it’s way into popular culture. A fringe idea, never really intended to be anything particularly outstanding has an unlikely run of luck. Somehow, the guardians of the galaxy, a relatively new team consisting of a universal magician, a cosmic warrior, two master assassins, a former paraplegic, a wise cracking ex-galactic hero, a psychic dog, a transcendental psychokinetic, a walking tree king and a talking raccoon with a penchant for heavy weaponry look like they’ve found their way to the big screen alongside iron man, Thor, cap and the rest of the avengers.

Rumours spreading like wildfire across the internet is that Marvel is about to announce a Guardians of the Galaxy movie. If, as we expect it to, it turns out to be true, then Marvel are really intending to take risks and reap the benefits in the coming years. With a stall of literally hundreds of characters to reveal, from Nova to Namor they could’ve kept thing’s earth bound.

However, we here at beyond the bunker anticipate an Avengers / Guardians crossover for what would’ve been the next Avengers movie. The reasons behind this are numerous.

In terms of available content, Marvel still haven’t got control of many of their greatest and most famous creations. Spider-man still remains under contract with Sony and 20th Century Fox show no signs of releasing the now well established X-men franchise with separate Origins and First Class arcs remaining potential money spinners. Strangely, this means that while Marvel can’t present all of it’s most successful characters together (Wolverine and Spider-man unable to join the current Avengers) these things still mean that Marvel associated projects rule Hollywood. In the next three years we’re likely to see Spider-man, X-men, Wolverine, Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Avengers and now Guardians of the Galaxy. There’s barely enough space in the movie calendar to sustain them and some Marvel projects will inevitably crossover. However, with the success of all of the Avengers movie and the fact that every adaptation has more than made it’s money back there is absolutely no sign of the marvel juggernaut stopping (even if he was played badly by Vinnie Jones).

However, this spread between film companies with Marvel franchises (of which Marvel is only one) leaves Marvel with a dearth of possible projects to bring to the big screen. Even the Avengers movie had to concede the use of Skrull warriors ( later to appear as the Chitauri in the film) – most likely because the Skrull copyright went over when the Fantastic Four were sold.

Blade’s been done beautifully (excluding part three) and will be hard to follow, Ghost Rider has met with considerable negative press but has made enough money to remain viably locked where it is, the Punisher never seems to work on the big screen after a couple of botched attempts but is unlikely to fall back into Marvel’s hands. Ant man remains in development and no one wants to try Howard the Duck again. The new warriors are a little too passé, X-factor, X-force, Excalibur, Cable and mystique belong to 20th Century Fox. So where do you turn…?

Marvel went cosmic immediately with Avengers. Natural plot devices that connected the characters inevitably led that way – cosmic cube in Captain America, pretty much every aspect of Thor, it was clear where they were going with it. The Ultimates (Marvel’s cinematic reinterpretation of the Avengers, central to the alternate Ultimate Universe) acknowledged the conscious plan to bring their one remaining credible franchise to the big screen, as X-men and Spider-man tore up the multiplexes elsewhere. The higher ups in Marvel would’ve known that the combined funds from licensing the Ultimate names was building coffers that would allow them to go alone as Marvel entertainment. The most amazing thing is the 20 year plan Marvel have demonstrated here. Mark Millar’s Ultimates revealed the Skrulls present in Nazi forces, crossing Cap’s timeline before presenting a big enough threat to justify the avengers 60 odd years later. This was the precursor to the films that have culminated the same way. However, it’s Thanos that it all hinges on.

Revealed at the very end of Avengers as the true threat, Thanos has represented the greatest danger to the Marvel universe throughout it’s history. Mythic and modern in equal measures, Thanos is an endearingly flawed demi- god figure and a logical threat for the Avengers to face. However, Thanos’ reveal at the end of the Avengers has made clear that the future for Marvel was space.

It’s most successful non- web/mutant/avengers franchise in comic books has been Marvel Galaxies, the culmination of many disparate races and characters developed in the background of other marvel titles. Having exhausted almost every popular earth- based creation they have Marvel had no choice but to look to the stars.

Following the surprisingly engaging Annihalation series and having the foresight to give editorial duties to Warhammer and scifi veterans (and friends to the Bunker) Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, the star spanning Marvel Universe has provided some of Marvel’s most engaging storylines in recent years. Through the Annihalation crossover and War of Kings storylines, one team stood out among all the others and absorbed all the best and most interesting figures in the Galactic Marvel section. Guardians of the Galaxy , brain child of Abnett and Lanning, kicked off with so much spit and gusto that it inevitably became a fan favourite.

This is here because we love this picture!!

With Thanos’ arrival in it’s pages, launching a further crossover that brought together the Annihalators – the most powerful figures in the galaxy – the relevance of Guardians of the Galaxy to the plot of the Avengers was cemented. Mostly killed off in that storyline, the notoriety of the Guardians has lost almost no momentum, rocket raccoon and Groot continuing to fight on in the back pages of the Annihalators.

Led by a disgraced and disillusioned galactic hero called Starlord – now a gun toting wisecracker, the Guardians represent the founding ideas that made comics great, combining it with Stan Lee’s philosophy for Marvel. Strong characters mix with unrelentingly uncompromising science fiction in a mix that is wry, exciting and fun.

With Iron Man 3, Thor and captain America 2 and Avengers 2 coming up in the next two years Marvel will be looking for a new card to play. We think that Marvel intend to make the Avengers movie another benchmark movie making it not only a repeat of an enormous crossover of successful films in their own right but are planning to add another to the mix. We anticipate that we are looking at a Guardians of the Galaxy / Avengers crossover in less than 3 years with an introductory movie for the star team appearing before hand.

All we need is Bob Hoskins to voice the part of Rocket Raccoon – to match the rugged cockney accent Marvel gave Rocket in the Marvel vs Capcom game and maybe Brian Blessed on Groot.

So when inevitably Thanos puts on his infinity Gauntlet to impress Lady Death in the next Avengers movie, two teams will ride out to face him. Don’t know about you but we can’t wait.

Watch a man turn into a blowfish in a short film (Fugu and Tako)

Watch as a man turns into a human pufferfish, but carries on with his normal life, in Ben West’s short film Fugu & Tako. The pufferfish man sings karaoke, drinks with the ladies, and passes out on a train (note the gills!). The detail is so intense you can even see the tiny stubble on the Pufferfish Man’s face.
West is a part of the Australian visual effects studio Robot. This is just the trailer, but let’s hope the full short film is out soon. Reminds us of a certain Moon faced boy… named Moon!! Turning heads into other stuff is fun!!

Tout L’Armour: Iron Patriot shots from Iron Man 3

Yo and behold – Iron Patriot spangles up proceedings in Iron Man 3. These on-set shots from the new Avengers movie (already in production – good work Marvel!!) reveal a very starry eyed surprise for one Mr Anthony Stark. Interesting choice of Bad Guy that might’ve suggested that yet again, the Mandarin has been put on the back-burner for the new movie. But no…

While Ben Kingsley and Guy Pearce have already been confirmed to take on nemesis roles in the upcoming film, it seems that there is another villainous character on the scene.

The discovery of Iron Patriot as a potential third villain (played by James Badge Dale) suggests things might be getting a little crowded on set for part 3. Considering that no comicx book adaptation with more than one full-on super villain has ever truly worked it seems like a weird gambit on Marvel’s behalf but if anyone’s gonna pull it off… watch this space.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2152633/Iron-Man-3-villain-James-Badge-Dale-seen-Iron-Patriot-set.html#ixzz1wTVwUG8i

Dangermouse : The Movie?

I don’t tend to like introducing other artists too enthusiastically onto our own blog site unless they’re working with Dan on one of his projects – makes me look bad when they can colour and things – but this discovery on Deviantart the other day had to be shared, including as it does a Dangermouse Movie Poster!!

Before we begin – Dangermouse, (Power House) – He’s the fastest, he’s the quickest, he’s the best – DAANGERMOOOUUUSE!! Dada dada di daa!! DAAANGERMOOOOUSE!! Dada dada di daa!! DANGERMOOOUU-OOOOUU-OOOU-SE!! DA DA DA DA DADI DA DA DA DAA – some more Da das!! – DAAAAAAAAAAAH!! BOOM!!

I have a special affinity with Dangermouse given my surname (Penfold -tut to you at the back looking confused) so when I stumbled upon this set of treats by Daztibbles I was understandably excited that Dangermouse might be returning to a larger screen.

As a child I was gangly and lanky so in no way represented my namesake in any way. One accidental poke in the eye from my mum though and the application of an eye patch and it was clear to all involved (aged 6) as to what we would be playing. Unflappable, unstoppable and with a brilliantly cowardly gerbil for a sidekick DM would fight the nefarious Baron Greenback weekly. Budgets were so short at times that scenes woulds appear in every episode in which Dangermouse and Penfold would famously end up in a darkened room with only their eyes visible. This became one of the best bits of the whole show as it added a ‘dark edge’ that Bananaman and Superted never bothered to get to.

Anyway, Daztibbles, originally from England and now over in Oz, took a Lambourghini and stretched it about a bit until it resembled DM’s car (the vents very handy for the lights of the original apparently). It was a great choice though – look at that. Genius.

Anyway – I’m using this as a jump in to demand a Dangermouse movie. I think Cosgrove Hall has closed it’s doors but by Jove we’ve got to get it made while David Jason’s still got good voice!! We’ve already lost the original voice of Penfold (Terry Scott) so it has to happen soon. At least a CGI series? Failing that – just repeat Wind in the Willows. POOP POOP! WAHEY!!!

See? Awesome.

Major (but awesome) Spoiler about the Avengers Villain

Back in November, we wrote an article about whether or not Thanos was secretly the true Avengers movie bad guy. It was thrown together with ideas of Whedon’s natural layering of threats in previous projects, Marvel’s cavalier attitude to plots and introductions of unusual and exciting characters and Thanos himself being cool as all hell and associated with cubes. The whole article effectively gave reason after reason as to why it should be true then I crapped out in the last paragraph and said no probably not.

But word is beginning to spread that ol’ purple radiator face does indeed make an appearance in the Avengers movie. Also, that shots showing Loki working alongside the Avengers (Oh Loki, when will you ever learn) suggest that things go awry and that a dark force more powerful than the God of Mischief intervenes. This, I believe, ain’t Thanos but we have recieved a comment from someone fortunate enough to see the Avengers Assemble claiming that Thanos is right there at the end of the credits. Other sources are saying he’s perrenially involved in Loki’s plot though not the prevailing threat of the film.

Nevertheless, if Thanos is in the all important final reel at the end of the credits then Marvel is beefing him up for something. Io9.com was mentioning the other day a veiled reference by a Marvel Exec about a feature involving a Raccoon and a tree and Marvel Galaxies saw Thanos versus Nova, Gladiator et al just last year. This points to an incredibly promising possibility. That Marvel intend to move their new features further out perhaps than anyone would expect and push out a Galactic movie. Guardians of the Galaxy: the Movie anyone?

The worst part is we had Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning right in front of us just this weekend and all I talked to Andy Lanning about was what ink to use and I spoke to Dan and his lovely wife about embarrassing myself in front of Simon Pegg at a Star Wars Con I was working at. I was priding myself on my restraint after embarrassing myself in front of Quitely a year ago (something Dan brings up whenever he can and will glefully tell you if asked) but this time fanboy bloghead would’ve actually helped!! Mother f…

Rear Window Time lapse Video will blow your mind!!

To anyone who have seen Rear Window you’ll know that Jimmy Stewart has an unlimited view of the tenements behind him but of course we, as the viewer didn’t get to see the whole picture. Not any more. Moving out of the limitations of the camera lens from Alfred Hitchcock’s classic, pure genius Jeff Desom has put together an incredible Time lapse composition of all the available shops showing Jimmy Stewart’s full view throughout the film. Absolutely mesmerising and one of the best things I’ve seen this year online.