Great Treasures at Gametraders May 2012 – Cosplay is coming!

As a result of a distraction provided by my studies, I have been a bit lax about supporting my favorite store.   A visit last night shows me that Gametraders Blacktown is still number one when it comes to getting me to draw my wallet out of my pocket… way too regularly!!

Adrian would like readers to be aware of the cosplay comp that will be on this coming Sunday.   The event is to celebrate the release of Naruto Shippuden volume 9…

The prize is fantastic, with $50 in store credit going to both the best dressed male and the best dressed female on the day.   Look out for the tenth Doctor when you come down!!

Games in this month…

There are a lot of games that have been added to the shelves since my last visit, and many of them have caught my eye.   I know very little about Dragon’s Dogma, but given it is dragon based, it may just be my next purchase….

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Great Treasures at Gametraders – 20th April 2012

There has been a load of new stock arriving this week at Gametraders Blacktown.   Whether your preference is plush, figures, games or anime, you are all catered for.   Here is a selection of some of the new items available in store.

Witcher 2

This game has been popular for months on the PC and has now made the transition to consoles with this version for the 360.   Will it be the next Skyrim?   Early reports do look promising.

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The First Avengers trailer is live…

In the past with this site, I have largely focussed on reviews of new and old films, with rarely a focus on what is happening in the future.   I am going to break trend today, and review a trailer.   Why?   Well, this trailer happens to be for the film that I have anticipated the most ever since the Lord of the Rings trilogy concluded.

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Thor – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: Kenneth Branagh

Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hiddlestone, Stellan Skarsgard, Kat Dennings, Rene Russo, Ray Stevenson, Idris Elba, Jaimie Alexander, Clark Gregg, Jeremy Renner, Stan Lee

Synopsis: This film continues the run of Marvel Comics films that are building to the release of Joss Whedon’s The Avengers next year.   Loosely based on Norse mythology, Thor, son of Odin, is banished from Asgard to Midgard (Earth), following his brash actions that threaten the realm now with war.   He is stranded here until such time as he can be worthy to once again wield the power of his mighty hammer, Mjolnir.

A review by Film Nerd.

Anyone who may follow this blog would be well aware of the level of fandom I have for Marvel comics and the films adapted from them.   As such, you may be prepared for an entirely biased review of this particular film, and you would be absolutely right.   For me, this film was a nerdgasm waiting to happen, ever since the first sight of Mjolnir following the closing credits of Iron Man 2.

Thor as the headline character of his own film was always a prospect I approached with trepidation.   When I was an avid comic reader, I only really followed him as a member of the Avengers, if anything.   It is a very difficult character to get a grasp of, always speaking in Ye Olde English, and having an almost antiquated sense of nobility.   The fact he is a god made him pretty cool, but I was never sure of his film potential.   As such, Kenneth Branagh could not have been a better choice to bring him to the big screen.   Being himself familiar with more antiquated drama such as Shakespeare, he was able to put together a film that provides entertainment without necessarily drifting into the area of farce.   A wise choice was to discard the Old English, yet keeping the flavour with an English accent for the realm of Asgard.   I had also read in interviews that Branagh recognised themes common between this story and Shakespeare, such as the corruption that comes with power and relationships between parent and child.   It is when these themes are focussed on in the film that it is at its strongest.

The film is not without flaws.   Despite Portman’s talent, the love story developed between her Jane and Hemsworth’s Thor does feel somewhat forced, as well as a little rushed.   Okay, so the point is he learns maturity and compassion through his dealings with humans, but I feel this could have been achieved by introducing some mutual interest that would be allowed to simmer.   The simple fact is with everything else going on, the romance itself does not need acting on.   However, if this is my only quibble with the film, I admit it is a minor one, and something needs to be there to please that half of the crowd that is more interested in Hemsworth’s abs than they are the development of the Marvel Universe on film.

The performances are uniformly brilliant.   Hemsworth does have real charisma, in addition to the bulk he gained to look the part.   Following his breakthrough role on the international market with Star Trek, he is building a very strong CV.   Portman as always is lovely,and errors in scripting cannot take away from her on-screen allure.   Hopkins as Odin brings a gravitas to proceedings, and introduces a depth to the father-son relationship that may have been lacking in a lesser actor.   Hiddlestone’s Loki also successfully walked the very fine line as the double-dealing half-brother,showing how the character could take so many in without appearing immediately slimy and self-interested.   The remaining cast introduces some more fun and humour.   Also keep eyes open for a few cameo appearances, the big hint being to stay after the credits once again.

As far as comic adaptations go, this is one of the better ones, and I was more than once stupidly grinning in the big action scenes.   The romance detracts somewhat from the rest of the story, but otherwise this is a brilliant popcorn flick that should entertain most audiences.

4 stars out of 5

Thor on IMDB

Thor on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=]

Iron Man 2

Director: Jon Fareau

Cast: Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mickey Rourke, Don Cheadle, Sam Rockwell

Synopsis: Tony Stark’s popularity has sky rocketed since revealing to the world he is Iron Man.   However, the government desires the suits tech to be handed over, not trusting such power in the hands.   Pressure to relinquish the suit only increases when mysterious Ivan Vanko produces his own miniature Arc reactor, the same device that powers Iron Man’s suit, and poses a threat to national security.   Meanwhile, Stark is losing control as a result of battling his own demons.

A review by Film Nerd

There is no question that the original Iron Man was a surprise hit, unless you were already a dedicated fan of Marvel comics before the release of the film.   For many, it not only marked another successful comic book adaptation, but a sparkling return to form for Robert Downey Jr., whose presence and charisma defined the film and fitted the character of playboy billionaire Tony Stark like a glove.   Sequels to films such as these are a very tricky prospect, needing to capture what made the original so entertaining, while adding new elements to avoid a feeling of dull repetition.

Iron Man 2 is a very solid, entertaining sequel.   Once again, it is truly Downey Jr.’s film, his character defining the tone, and maintaining a sense of fun to the proceedings.   However, Stark is battling personal demons this time whereas in the last film it was battling the demons of his company’s legacy.   It is revealed early on that the element Palladium, which acts as the core of the Arc reactor and powers the Iron Man suit, as well as keeping his heart running, is slowly poisoning him.   Indeed, the very thing keeping him alive is also killing him.

This is bad enough, without external pressures mounting.   The government is seeking access to the suit technology in the interest of national defence, the (not unreasonable) fear being that other countries may indeed develop this technology to use against the United States.   Stark’s defence that this technology being developed elsewhere is not likely for another five to ten years is destroyed on the appearance of Rourke’s Ivan Vanko, who develops his own Ark reactor to power his own suit.  He adopts the identity of Whiplash to take revenge on the Stark family for stealing the Ark technology from his father in the first place.    Roarke continues his career resurrection here, playing the role with an effective, quiet menace.

The external characters all get a chance to shine.   Don Cheadle replaces Terrence Howard as Stark’s best friend Lt. Col. Jim “Rhodey” Rhodes, and frankly does a much better job.   Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts maintains that mix of spice and vulnerability that worked so well in the first film, and Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow is thankfully an entertaining performance in a way many of hers have not been of late.   Special mention has to go to the always brilliant Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer, a business rival of Stark’s.   It is a role that could have been dull when playing against top form RDJ and Rourke, but in Rockwell’s hands it is a true stand out.

Overall, the film equal’s but does not quite better the original outing.   That said, it does have a true “middle chapter” feel.   Though Iron Man 3 is not yet slated, Marvel’s Avengers is due out next year, uniting Iron Man and Hulk with Thor and Captain America, both characters due for their own films prior to the release of the Avengers.   That said, it is here that the true Marvel Fanboy can get extra out of this film.    I noticed at least two Easter eggs in the film hinting to these later films, one of which had me nerd-gasm enough to give my fiancée a significant fright in our car at the drive-in!   Note, stick around after the end credits, as one of these Easter eggs is dropped then.   All I can say is that I can’t wait!

A entertaining sequel that, despite not feeling an improvement of the original film, at least equals that previous effort.   An extra half star was given for the fanboy references.

4 stars (out of a possible 5)

Iron Man 2 on IMDB

Iron Man 2 on Rotten Tomatoes

Iron Man 2 trailer [youtube=]