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“Thor”
a review by Darby O’Gill

When Gods become superheroes… or something like that. Thor is the latest odyssey in the Marvel Studios journey towards the all-star extravaganza that will be The Avengers. To be honest, I’m not much of a Marvel Comics fan, or a Thor fan for that matter. I’m more of a DC Comics man myself, but that’s not to say I can’t enjoy a good Marvel movie. Sadly, Thor is not one of them. It’s not a horrible movie, I mean it’s no Jonah Hex, which by the way was last year’s Death Coach winner, which should dispel any thoughts of publisher loyalty that you might find in this review. But, Thor does have its fair share of problems, as well as nice moments, however few.

In Thor, King Odin (Anthony Hopkins) of Asgard tries to prepare his two sons for the challenges they may face one day as future kings. His eldest, the Mighty Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is cocky and arrogant, and only wishes to show off his superior strength and fearlessness at any chance he can get. Loki (Tom Hiddleston) on the other hand, likes to use his head, and manipulate situations and others to help mold events to his liking. They don’t call him the God of Mischief for nothing. The ying to Asgard’s yang is Jotunheim and its people the Frost Giants. When a small group of Frost Giants breach the palace’s security, Thor wishes to go to Jotunheim and strike fear into the heart of its people to never try such a thing again. Odin strongly forbids it, but Thor and his men, consisting of the Warriors Three (Ray Stevenson, Tadanobu Asano, & Josh Dallas) and Sif (Jamie Alexander), along with his brother Loki, sneak-off to Jotunheim and unwittingly start a war. Yeah, I don’t get that either! What did they think would happen? Anyway, Odin strips Thor of his powers and banishes him from Asgard. He is cast to Earth as a mortal man, but his Mjolnir (Thor’s Hammer) is also sent to Earth as a “Sword in the Stone” to restore Thor’s powers once he’s learned his lesson. While on Earth he meets astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), and S.H.I.E.L.D., and bla babla babla. You get it right?!

Okay, so let’s just say Thor didn’t make me a fan of Thor. It’s too bad too! I was really hoping having director Kenneth Branagh behind the wheel of this one would have done for Thor, what Jon Favreau did for Iron Man. That’s not to say Branagh didn’t do a good job! If it wasn’t for him, we could have easily been looking at next year’s Death Coach Award winner here. The problem isn’t so much the directing, as it is the writing. The script isn’t horrible, but it does feel like it’s just jumping from plot point to plot point to keep the story moving, and it never lets you really care about the characters, or even the story for that matter. The storyline in Asgard is much more defined than that of the story on Earth, but that comes as of no surprise with Branagh’s Shakespearean background. Chris Hemsworth is perfectly cast as Thor! He did an incredible job of bringing the mighty comic book God to life. We also get to see Thor and his powers unleashed pretty early in the film when he battles the Frost Giants on Jotunhein, and I’ve got to say some of the hammer tricks were pretty bad-ass! It’s just too bad I didn’t get to have that feeling again by the end of the movie. I would have really liked a second helping of that fight scene later on in the film. I can’t for the life of me figure out why Thor’s best fight scene would be at the beginning of the movie, and not at the end? I also don’t know if it was just me, or the once again pointless 3D conversion, but the CGI at times seemed to be a little too CGIy. The other realms looked fantastic, and had a grand sense of space to them, but I felt like I was watching a video game at times, and actually had to remind myself I was watching a movie! I know that this is Kenneth Branagh’s first real CGI venture, and with that in mind it’s really not that bad. But next time, less is more. I’m starting to feel like I’m being unfair. They say that this is the first official movie of the summer season, but I’m going to give that title to Fast Five! Also, that way my summer can start on a high note, and not this middle of the road shit! Thor does its job of introducing the movie going public to the Mighty Thor, but ultimately it’s just not worth it.

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“Paul”
a review by Darby O’Gill

Throughout the history of cinema we have always had our share of great comedic duo teams, Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy, Bud Abbott & Lou Costello, Burt Reynolds & Dom DeLuise, David Spade & Chris Farley, and now Simon Pegg & Nick Frost. Okay, that might be a little bit of a grand statement, but I’ve got to say it’s one that I’m proud to stand behind. From Spaced to Hot Fuzz, Pegg and Frost have more than earned their place on that list. In their newest team-up, they find themselves on the run from the men in black with a little help of the third kind.

In Paul, illustrator Graeme Willy (Simon Pegg) and aspiring sci-fi writer Clive Gollings (Nick Frost) have ventured across the pond on holiday to attend the Holy Grail of all nerd events, the San Diego Comic-Con! However, the Comic-Con is just the beginning of the duo’s epic adventure. Having rented an RV, Graeme and Clive plan to visit all the UFO hot spots the American Southwest has to offer, from Area 51 to the infamous UFO crash site in Roswell, New Mexico. But, their plans quickly change when in the desert just outside Area 51, they stumble upon a real life alien named Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen). Now on the run from government agents that want Paul back, the boys will do their best to help their new alien friend get home.

Paul might not be an instant classic, or even in line for an Oscar anytime soon, but it’s a fun ride just the same. I really had a good time watching this one, and can’t wait to see it again. It’s just fun to watch Pegg & Frost do their thing, even if it is without the help of good friend Edgar Wright. That’s not to say that Wright was completely left out of the making of Paul. There’s a nice little nod in one of the scenes, to the movie Edgar was filming at the time of Paul. In the comic book shop in Roswell, there is a rack full of Scott Pilgrim trades proudly on display. This movie is full of little gems like that. With so many science-fiction movies, comic book and pop culture references in it, Paul has definitely set a record. I would almost say there are too many, but somehow it works. I think having so many in the film, gives the movie a little bit of a leeway. Well, that and the fact that Graeme and Clive are a pair of hopeless nerds, who would most likely talk like that. The other thing that really helps you enjoy this movie is the character of Paul himself. Seth Rogen does such a great job of breathing life into this fully culturally integrated spaceman. I love that he is constantly pointing out the misconceptions of alien stereotypes, and has a true gift for stating the obvious. Did I mention that Paul is also the idea man (well, alien) behind some of our greatest science fiction? Well, he is! Paul is truly the ultimate fanboy road trip movie!

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