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Paper Girls

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In the pre-dawn hours of November 1st, 1988 — the day after Halloween, or “Hell Day” — paper girls Mac, Tiffany and KJ, cross paths with new girl Erin, who’s just trying to make it through her first day without attracting the attention of the town bullies.

Hoping for safety in numbers, the girls join forces to finish their deliveries, only to find themselves faced with a threat far more dangerous than aggressive teenagers in dollar store Freddy Krueger masks.

Based on the graphic novel series of the same name by artist Cliff Chiang (Wonder Woman) and writer Brian K Vaughan (Saga, Y: The Last Man), Paper Girls is a collision of ‘80s nostalgia, coming-of-age drama, and mind-bending time travel hi-jinks.

With a core cast of relative newcomers, there are echoes of early Spielberg and Stephen King in the iconic imagery of teens on bikes roaming the small town streets. Only this time, alongside dealing with first friendships, first loves, and first attempts at rebellion, the paper girls of Stony Stream are also dealing with their first run-in with time-hopping renegades, and their first time coming face to face with their own future selves — and finding them wanting.

Despite the elaborate premise of being granted a peek into your own future, (a future which somehow inexplicably involves piloting giant mechanical humanoid robots), it’s the smaller, more emotional storylines that pack the biggest punch. Character-driven moments, where the girls bond over how to use a tampon, or share fantasies about who they want to be when they grow up, might slow the momentum of the war-across-time plot, but they’re all the more impactful for their quiet honesty.

What will likely be hailed as the female led answer to Stranger Things, developed for television by Stephany Folsom (Toy Story 4, Star Wars Resistance), Paper Girls is a heartfelt portrayal of what it’s like to be 12 years old, where a single summer can feel like an eternity. Unfortunately for Mac, Tiff, KJ, and Erin, there’s really nothing metaphorical about it.

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Trailer: The Sandman

We're yet to see a Neil Gaiman done full justice, so it'll be interesting how this DC comics adaptation goes, starring Tom Sturridge as the master of dreams, with Boyd Holbrook, Patton Oswalt, Vivienne Acheampong, Gwendoline Christie, Charles Dance, Jenna Coleman, David Thewlis, Stephen Fry, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Mason Alexander Park, Donna Preston, Vanesu Samunyai (formerly known as "Kyo Ra"), John Cameron Mitchell, Asim Chaudhry, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Joely Richardson, Niamh Walsh, Sandra James-Young and Razane Jammal also in the cast. Looks good.
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Mike Mignola: Drawing Monsters

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The character of Hellboy has become so ubiquitous in popular culture that it’s almost hard to remember a time without him. First created by artist Mike Mignola in 1993, the red-hued pancake loving, evil punching monster with a heart of gold has featured in comics, video games, cartoons, two good movies (by Guillermo del Toro) and one middling effort (by Neil Marshall). Drawing Monsters, the niche but engaging documentary about the horned one’s creator, showcases how remarkable it is that the character ended up existing at all and what it meant to the talented misfit known as Mike Mignola.

Mike Mignola: Drawing Monsters is a pretty straight forward documentary, taking a mostly linear stab at describing the timeline of Mike’s career. He was, it has to be said, ill suited to working for any of the big comic houses, doing art for both Marvel and DC that went mostly underappreciated. His problem wasn’t so much that he didn’t have talent, he had bags of the stuff, it was more that he couldn’t work out how to apply it to other people’s work. Eventually, and with a lot of help from a supportive partner and Dark Horse Comics, he unleashed Hellboy onto the world and then the real adventure began.

Drawing Monsters benefits from having numerous famous nerds and creative types chiming in on the greatness of Mignola. Neil Gaiman, Guillermo del Toro, Patton Oswalt, Ron Perlman (and many more), it’s a veritable buffet of geek culture luminaries. The fact that Mike himself, often known to be a bit of a grumpy old man to work with, comes off as a shy, modest and rather affable gent also lends a certain charm to the proceedings.

Like a lot of nerd culture documentaries, Mike Mignola: Drawing Monsters is probably a little too niche for the uninitiated and possibly about fifteen minutes too long. However, fans of comics, movies, pulp fiction and Mignola’s iconic, unique art will enjoy this breezy, lightweight look at a legend.

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Thor: Love and Thunder

comic book, Disney, Marvel, Review, Theatrical, This Week 1 Comment

Do you still feel grief-stricken after the heartbreaking death of Tony Stark? Can’t get yourself back to the pre-Endgame happiness? Then Thor: Love and Thunder is definitely a movie for you.

Set after the events in the Endgame, the story follows Thor (Chris Hemsworth) on his journey to rediscover himself. Thor needs to rejoin the fight and pick up his battle axe Stormbreaker in order to save the universe one more time. He has to stand against Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale), who is wielding a terrifying sword, set on destroying deities from all myths and legends. Thor recruits Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Korg (Taika Waititi) and Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) to help him on his quest.

Jane is seen taking on a new role as the Mighty Thor while undergoing cancer treatment. She wields a reconstructed Mjolnir and is dressed in a dazzling costume; the new look definitely works for her.

Thor: Love and Thunder is something different in the MCU. It gives Thor a human side and shows him amidst what seems to be a mid-life crisis. There is also more humour and focus on emotions in the film. These aspects could even be taken one step further; you could categorise Thor: Love and Thunder as the first modern superhero romcom.

The film introduces new characters who may in the future take more significant roles. A fun and surprisingly hilarious character is Zeus played by Russell Crowe. Another terrific asset is the soundtrack, with the Guns’n’Roses and their hits incorporated smartly, adding to the film’s combination of the greatest and cheesiest movie moments of the ‘80s expertly glued together by modern special effects and sensibilities.

One of the most interesting visual moments in the film is Thor’s venture to the Shadow Realm, reminiscent of that moment of watching Sin City for the first time.

Thor: Love and Thunder combines so many styles that it makes watching it a unique experience. Taika Waititi has said that the movie was filmed in a family atmosphere with children of the cast playing small parts in the movie and even designing all the monsters in it. This togetherness can truly be felt throughout the movie.

On a final note, as expected, there are 2 post credit scenes, so don’t rush out too early.

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Trailer: Black Adam

A Shazam! spin-off, The Rock stars as the titular anti-hero, with Aldis Hodge (One Night in Miami) as Hawkman, Noah Centineo (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before) as Atom Smasher, Sarah Shahi (Sex/Life) as Adrianna, Marwan Kenzari (Murder on the Orient Express) as Ishmael, Quintessa Swindell (Voyagers) as Cyclone, Bodhi Sabongui (A Million Little Things) as Amon, and Pierce Brosnan as Dr. Fate. Jaume Collet-Serra (Jungle Cruise) directs.
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Trailer #2: Thor: Love and Thunder

"Kids, get the popcorn out." Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale) makes his first appearance in cinema, in this follow-up trailer for Taika Waititi's Sydney-shot installment of "the story of the space viking, Thor Odinson."
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Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

comic book, Disney, Disney+, Marvel, Review, Theatrical, This Week 1 Comment

Marvel movies. They’ve become so ubiquitous, so ever-present, it’s hard to remember a time when they didn’t occupy cinema screens en masse and dominate the box office. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, mind you. Even the weakest Marvel offering is usually a pretty good time, however all but the most ardent superhero lover would likely agree that stylistically these flicks are starting to feel a bit samey. This house style has frustrated some directors – Edgar Wright who left Ant-Man for one – and occasionally it feels like these movies are simply slick content delivery machines. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness does not feel like that, and the movie – for all its many shortcomings – offers a rather unique (albeit occasionally baffling) experience in a genre of film that is all too often homogenised. And how does it accomplish this?

Three words, people: Sam motherflippin’ Raimi.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness continues the tale of neurosurgeon-turned-wizard Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), who in the dizzying opening moments of the movie meets America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez), a teenager on the run from various gloopy monsters. Said beasties appear to be after America’s ability to zip through the multiverse, from one dimension to another during moments of extreme emotion, and ol’ mate Strange decides to give Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) a ping to see if she can help. And… that’s all the story beats we can chat about without getting super spoilery.

Multiverse of Madness takes some big, BIG narrative swings throughout and while not all of them work, they’re undeniably ballsy. It’s also probably the Marvel movie you’ll need to do the most homework for. Unless you’ve seen the entirety of WandaVision (streaming now on Disney+), you’ll likely be a little lost. Hell, you might even raise an eyebrow or two if you have!

See, Multiverse of Madness goes berko. Wild new dimensions are visited, jaw-dropping cameos occur and the level of creepy moments and straight up gore is higher in this flick than any other Marvel offering. Like, don’t get us wrong, it’s not A Serbian Film or anything, but it’s probably going to have your ruggies hiding behind the seats and adult fans cackling with inappropriate laughter. The sheer unbridled verve with which Sam Raimi directs the shit out of this yarn is an absolute pleasure to behold.

Raimi hasn’t actually directed a feature film since 2013’s forgettable Oz the Great and Powerful, but in that time the 62-year-old Evil Dead helmer hasn’t lost a step. From the opening moments to the end credits, this feels like a Sam Raimi flick. Dutch angles, roaming camera, alarming close-ups and giddy whip pans are all present, as well as new tricks including an hilariously grisly third act addition that we won’t spoil, but you’ll know it when you see it.

It’s a good thing Raimi’s so on point too because, frankly, the script is a bit of a mess. It simplifies a lot of the great character work done with Wanda in WandaVision and spends quite a bit of the second act seemingly unsure where to go. Perhaps some of the lumpy, inconsistent structure is a hangover from previous director Scott Derrickson (who departed the film due to those “creative differences” that seem all the rage these days), but the result is a film that at times feels at odds with itself. That said, it does end on a high note, with one of the more exciting and visceral third acts in Marvel history.

Ultimately, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a bit of a mixed bag. The script is patchy and feels micro-managed, but the direction is vital and lively. This is an okay narrative directed by a master, and while the end result is imperfect, it also feels weirder and gutsier than recent entries.

Sure to be divisive for all sorts of reasons, Multiverse of Madness is destined to be the Marvel film most appreciated by stoners, goth kids, horror fans and twitchy weirdos. And if you know that up front, there’s a weirdly giddy adventure waiting for you to enjoy.