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Mike Mignola: Drawing Monsters

comic book, DC, Documentary, Festival, Film Festival, Marvel, Review, Streaming, This Week Leave a Comment

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 #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.

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Teaser Trailer: Thor: Love and Thunder

Shot in Sydney and directed by Taika Waititi, the latest marvellous adventures of the god of thunder take place after the events of Avengers: Endgame, feature the Guardians of the Galaxy and the return of Jane (Natalie Portman). No sign of Russell Crowe or Christian Bale in this first look. Anyone else expect Bill & Ted to turn up at some stage, or is that just us?

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Morbius

comic book, Marvel, Review, Theatrical, This Week Leave a Comment

The Sony/Marvel flicks (as opposed to the straight Marvel movies) are an odd lot. They resemble the superhero flicks we’re used to in superficial ways, but diverge from the formula in many others. Divergence from an established norm isn’t a bad thing, mind you, particularly in a genre as oversaturated as this, but Sony’s influence tends to result in dubious results like Venom (2018) and Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021). Morbius is the newest addition to Sony’s Spider-Man Universe and despite plenty of star power and arresting visuals, the result is a wee bit underwhelming.

Morbius tells the story of Dr. Michael Morbius (Jared Leto), a genius physician who suffers from a rare blood disease that is slowly killing him. In a last ditch effort to save his own life, and the lives of other sufferers of the disease, Mikey tries a dangerous experimental cure involving deadly vampire bats and ropey CGI. The good news? Ol’ mate Doc Morbius is cured! The bad? He’s also now a living vampire and requires regular infusions of blood to stay even vaguely human.

It’s actually a pretty decent premise for a superhero movie, and in its early moments Morbius is quite promising. Jared Leto, who seems to veer from spectacularly awful (House of Gucci, Suicide Squad) to excellent (WeCrashed, Dallas Buyers Club), does solid work here as the conflicted doctor. However, after his transformation takes place, the film loses all sense of nuance and drama, and descends into a distinctly ‘90s-flavoured yarn, chockers with mawkish dialogue, murky CGI and weightless, incoherent action.

A pity too, because you’ve got a decent supporting cast here that includes Jared Harris (!) doing his typically excellent work and Matt Smith, who looks like he’s having a good time vamping for the camera. The problem is, the script just isn’t at the same level as the cast, skipping through potential substance or nuance in favour of intermittently entertaining set pieces and the result is a film that feels increasingly disconnected from anything that resonates.

It’s not a terrible film, mind you. It’s certainly an improvement on the first Venom (which is a low bar) and there are a few decent moments. However, by the time the climax rolls around you’ll likely have checked out, and the post-credit sequences are downright baffling.

Ever since Sony and Marvel crossed the pop-cultural streams with Spider-Man: No Way Home, the potential for wild and imaginative flights of fancy has been high. Sadly, however, in the case of Morbius, it’s just another flat, rather ordinary superhero flick destined to be consumed, digested and forgotten within its release window. Fangs for nothing, Sony.

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Trailer: Morbius

The Marvel vampiric antihero will fly into cinemas on the momentum of the latest Spider-Man box office smash.