Film Review: “Thor: Ragnarok”

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston and Cate Blanchett
Directed By: Taika Waititi
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 130 minutes
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

While “Avengers: Age of Ultron” was only about two and a half years ago, it feels like an eternity since we last saw Thor (Hemsworth). It can easily be said that Thor’s cameos in other Marvel films are a lot more enjoyable than his own feature length vehicles. That’s mainly because his two previous movies are devoid of mentally stimulating storytelling, hollow villains and an inescapable sense of forced plotting. Luckily, third time’s the charm for the God of Thunder.

In an attempt to get to the meat of the story, “Ragnarok” spends the first handful of minutes rushing through plot points about Thor, Loki, Odin and Jane Foster, and what they’ve been up to since we last saw them. It’s taxing, especially since no one really cares about Odin and I think Loki is a reminder of Marvel’s previous attempts to make him more of an imposing bad guy than he actually is. But it’s during these clichéd moments that “Ragnarok” still manages to find fun and establish tone.

For instance, the cold open finds Thor having the most fun we’ve ever seen him have on screen. With a flick of his wrist and a twirl of his hammer, he obliterates dozens of faceless foes, and it’s all set to Led Zepplin. We also get a much needed detour from the story line catch-up with Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch). His cameo is unexplained and seemingly unnecessary, but it’s certainly one of the most delightful highlights of the film. Once the film catches up on two years, we meet the Goddess of Death, Hela (Blanchett)

Hela may be the blueprints needed for a Marvel universe in sore need of a compelling, yet dangerous villain. Hela is a genuine threat, demonstrating her overt God-like powers throughout. Her first scene shows her destroying Thor’s hammer with a singular flex of her arm and disregarding Thor’s threat much like a pesky fly. There’s a charming menace behind her smile as she slaughters countless soldiers on her way to Asgard’s throne. Blanchett’s performance is simply magnetic.

Most Marvel films know how to have fun, but “Ragnarok” is an entirely new beast. It draws upon child-like humor, usually seen in more mature Saturday morning cartoons. The film expertly utilizes humor to introduce new characters flawlessly and in minimal time. Jokes convey their attitudes and mentality easier than any drawn out exposition could. It also helps when you have the Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) aggressively stomping around like an upset Kindergartener. Director Taika Waititi deserves a lot of credit for taking the title character and its world in such a retro direction so that’s equally lighthearted and visually joyful.

“Ragnarok” isn’t breaking the established Marvel mold, as much as it wants to. Film executives might have pulled their hair out if the film didn’t still lean on protagonist redemption subplots, cheeky squabbles amongst allies and fanboy pandering. That shouldn’t take away from Waititi’s vision. He’s brought his own brand of goofiness, managing to make the film and its characters crass, yet warm, and brutish, yet charming. “Ragnarok” is a dazzling space opera that finally gives Thor meaningful purpose in the vast Marvel cinematic universe.

Film Review “I Am Thor”

“I Am Thor”

Starring: Jon Mikl Thor
Directed by: Ryan Wise
Rated: Not Rated
Running time: 1 hr 24 mins

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Jon Mikl Thor was a bodybuilding, steel bending, brick-smashing rock star in the 70’s and 80’s whose theatrical band THOR hit the scene alongside Metallica and Kiss, but never achieved the gold record status of its contemporaries. After a brief but memorable film career saw him starring in cult classics like “Rock n Roll Nightmare” and “Zombie Nightmare” Thor all but disappeared. Tracing the rise, fall, and rebirth of a determined performer “I Am Thor” paints a fascinating and sometimes unbelievable portrait of this larger-than-life icon.

Anybody who grew up in the 70’s and 80’s had to have caught a glimpse or at the very least heard of Thor at some point during their adolescence. Whether it was tales of his abilities to bend steel or break cinder blocks with a single blow being told around the school yard to possibly catching a late night showing of “Rock n Roll Nightmare” or maybe you were fortunate enough to purchase a copy of Thor’s 1978 release “Keep the Dogs Away”. Whichever it may have been Thor was there. “I Am Thor” is more than just your basic rise, fall and rise again type of documentary. Instead you get an unprecedented look at Thor’s career told directly from the man himself Jon Mikel Thor. From his early beginnings as a body building champion in Canada and the subsequent evolution of the Thor character over 30 years the viewer experiences it all. Packed with both new and vintage footage the film had everything I like in a documentary of this style.

Yes the rise/fall/rise story line is becoming a bit tiring at this point as this film is certainly not the first to adopt this format nor will it probably be the last however, these type of films which showcase one person or a group of peoples undying dedication to themselves and their fans are what keep me coming back for more. “I Am Thor” is a diamond in the rough just waiting to be discovered.

Black Sails’s Ray Stevenson on Playing Blackbeard

When Starz’s Emmy-winning series “Black Sails” returns for its third season, the usual inhabitants of Nassau are set to be joined by the iconic pirate Black Beard. Black Beard (real name Edward Teach) cut an striking figure on the seas of the 17th and 18th century, often relying on theatrically in his attacks to further intimidate his enemies. Many of his flourishes were the basis for the way piracy was portrayed in pop culture thereafter. At 6’4″, Irish actor Ray Stevenson (HBO’s “Rome”, Punisher: War Zone, the Thor films) can certainly fill the shoes of that scary scallywag on screen while being completely affable and a joy to chat with when he sat down with me at this year’s New York Comic Con.

Lauren Damon: I’m a huge Marvel nerd, so of course I’ve seen you as Volstagg [In the Thor movies]–
Ray Stevenson:You saw a lot of me! [laughs]
So I was wondering going from that to Black Beard, have you nailed down the ‘beard acting’ between these characters?

Stevenson: Well you know it’s more about beard preparation. That you just sort of you know like abandon hope as you go into the makeup room. Just like say ‘alright…‘ Yeah ’cause it was about the same time. Cause again, that magnificent Volstagg beard was like this one, was individual pieces. And it’s almost like strand by strand it’s laid on. But the horrible thing is that you’re up at four in the morning, and you get in there about half past four or something and it’s still dark. And it’s just your body’s screaming that nobody should be up at this time. You should be going home. And you lie down and the first thing they do–you’re obviously clean-shaved–so you’re shaved. And then they slap glue on your face. They basically paint your whole face with tacky tacky glue and it just…never feels good. You never get used to that. And then it’s this sticky sticky stabby process.

But I am–I wasn’t freaked out by it. I was kind of used to it. Yeah so as far as ‘beard acting’ is concerned, yeah. The only thing I did this time was that it was my mustache. Which was fine when you’re shooting and then when you’re not shooting, walking around with this massive sort of handlebar mustache which I’ll never do again [laughs] because it was neither one nor the other. It wasn’t me, it wasn’t the character. So it was fine when we were shooting. So this time they’ll have to provide that as well. I tried it.

Playing one of the most notorious pirates of all time, what steps did you take to make it unique and what steps did you take to research so you’re true to the character?

Stevenson: There’s a lot of research available, a lot of material on the character itself. Which is a double-edged sword as well because like all these things, history is a thing that is written by the victors…It’s like the American cowboys, that whole civilization of ‘the Wild West’ and all this that was sent back east to titillate over and get excited about and stuff like this. So there’s a lot of that going on at that period. They were writing about you know, “Ye Olde Pirates” and cutthroats and all this. So in amongst that, there’s a thread that you can glean.

And obviously there was some serious historians trying to put this stuff together. There comes a point where, with everything, you have to push all that sort of general knowledge aside sort of thing and concentrate on the script. Because ultimately you’re playing the script. And what you could bring to it was there was–and what’s beautifully portrayed I think in the series–is it’s much more about the man. The myth and the legend has already been established. So he’s coming in as ‘Blackbeard’…This is not about him establishing his legend.

He’s…it’s like if you have Keith Richards walk in a bar, and there’s guys there and they go like ‘He used to play the guitar…’ You know what I mean? It’s like he walks in and there’s guy in the tavern going [hushed voice] ‘He used to be a pirate, you know what I mean?‘ It’s just, he has that effect. He has that charisma. You wouldn’t actually lock eyes with him. He just carries that with him. And carries from, not out of bluster I think, because that’s it. He’s earned it.

And so you’ve got a guy who’s–you’re trying to play somebody who has got that presence and that charisma. It’s like unleashing a kraken, he just turns up. If he looks at you, you sort of…it puts you straight on edge. You go ‘well, why is he lookin’ at me? Am I glad he’s looking at me? Or am I not?’ I mean…so a lot of it is done in subtleties and in the writing. And then when he engages with the likes of Rackham and Vane and what have you, he knows what he’s bringing with him as well. And also he’s got quite a bit to say.

So the research and all this is great to a point, but obviously you have to avoid the fact that he was from Bristol. And so that heavy Bristolian accent unfortunately is the big cod accent that most people they think about when they think ‘pirates’. That sort of you know ‘ARRR‘ and all this sort of stuff. Whereas the Bristolian accent is wonderful and rich, BUT it would lend itself towards you know perhaps that sort of assumption of you know, getting a little too cod piratey. But that’s not what it was about. But it was the essence of the man from Bristol, who was actually a tremendous strategist and seaman and captain. And knew all about the power of display. And that’s why he would dress the way he did. He was 6’3″-6’4″. In the 1720s, that man was a colossus, he was a giant. So he basically knew about the theatre of putting that effect on so that the other ships they were after would just hopefully capitulate. Because there was no loss of life and they’d get all the booty and everybody’s happy, there’s no bloodshed, he didn’t lose any crew members living off the legend. And maintaining his prowess. It’s a strange thing to try to make that balance but ultimately you’re playing you know, you’re serving the piece. You’re playing the drama itself.

Between this and “Rome”, Thor and other roles, you have all this weapons training. At this point do you have a preference? Do you feel more comfortable with one or…

Stevenson: [Laughs] The one’s that win! No, because they all–it’s amazing working with the weapons guys. Like on Punisher[:War zone] we worked with the Marines and also with some Force Recon guys and they were just…I mean I wanted to make sure we didn’t have those, you know the old Hollywood guns that never ran out of bullets. So I mean–and GI Joe as well–there were mag reloads and all sorts of stuff. You want to do it enough times so that it becomes automatic. Because sometimes, like with Punisher especially, a lot of the people that watch it, maybe they’re going to be the army guys. Who are training and training and training and they’re going to see something like, even your hand position on your weapon, the use of the weapons, the reload, and they’re gonna say ‘Do you know what, that’s we’ve been doing…‘…So they’re not thinking like ‘Ehh he knows nothing.‘ That sort of authenticity.

The weapons training obviously with things like [The Three] Musketeers, thigh-killing training. Because it’s a certain type of sword fighting. Which anybody who goes to the gym I think they dread, ‘And now, lunges!’ Well that’s what it all is. But it’s lunges with intent. I think when you’re working with weaponry, I work harder than when I ever work at a gym. Because it’s fun. And you’re basically working on a choreographed dance as well. So you’re doing all this extra work. At the end of the day, you’re just shaking like jelly. I never– I’m never at the gym like that. But because you’re rendering your hand and you’re learning these set pieces and moves…I mean ultimately the person is the weapon. That’s what you learn throughout all the weapons training, no matter what period it is, the real weapon is the person behind it. And you know, if you get that right, then how you handle the weapons is just second-nature.

How is the dynamic between Blackbeard and the other alpha male characters–Vane and Flint–but also if you go deeper than that with some of the other characters?

Stevenson: Well he does because coming back to Nassau, after such a protracted period away, he’s got his own reasons for coming back in. I think it’s a lot to do with the lack of a son and an heir apparent. Even after eight marriages, eight wives, there’s no son. And the closest thing he has to any of that would be this pirate captain who he mentored, which is Charles Vane. And to see if there is–is there anything left? Is there any relationship? Because in this period in history–because there were nothing like the numbers of people we have on the planet now and a man’s standing and his status and his legend that he leaves behind was the most important thing. If you lost status in life, pffft! That was it. You may as well throw yourself off the top of your rock. So to see if there was any spark of something that you know, could be reignited.

But what happens when he arrives back in Nassau, he sees that–and this is what he says to Rackham and Vane–he looks around and he says ‘I see what you’ve done, you’ve basically done the worst thing ever, you’ve made it prosperous You’ve turned them soft, there’s no pirates around’ Because they’ve all got their money…He basically comes back and holds them right up and says ‘What?!’ And of course, because it’s him, this sets in motion a sort of–it’s a real dressing down. And we’ll see the dynamic as to whether or not–because this is very much a kind of father-son relationship, or you know heir apparent with Vane, and how that plays out. And that’s what I love about…couched in all this world of ships and the huge set pieces and the galleys and a the fights and the battles, and all this sort of stuff, there is this real human condition of father-son, mentor, founding member, one of the original drafters of the pirate charter and walking living sort of legend. That people sort of stop their breath, the last thing they expect to see is this guy walking into a tavern or walking down one of the streets. He has that effect which he’ll use to great effect. And if challenged, he’ll meet it out swiftly…

And then the relationship with Flint is dealt with very well. Like they’re kept at a kind of distance initially because we’re establishing other things and Flint’s away…And then there is a coming together, ultimately, of course, right? And that’s all I can tell you about that. We’ll see!

How about some of the female characters?
Stevenson: How about some of the females? Aren’t they great! How about those girls? [laughing]
I mean, you know, look, he’s from a different era and he has his own, he has a long standing sort of thing with one woman who you get to meet. And where he’s off the island of Nassau and he’s actually on some spit of land or some island somewhere…it’s probably only on his maps where he goes with his crew. Where he–he basically sees these islands as launchpads not as new states or new societies. Next thing you know, he says these pirates will be farming, they’ll be setting up law-courts, they’ll be setting up judicial…and then where are you? He basically lives by example and shames people around him and with the Guthries, he’s got no love lost with the Guthries.

Black Sails season three premieres on Starz Saturday January 23rd at 9pm.

Book Review “The Avengers Storybook Collection”

Age Range: 6 – 8 years
Grade Level: 1 – 3
Series: Storybook Collection
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Marvel Press
Release Date: March 31, 2015

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

I wish I had a book like this when I was a kid. “The Avengers Storybook Collection” is a must have for any parent with young boys or even young fan girls for that matter! There is nothing like getting ready a story filled with heroism, adventure and action just before going to slip. These stories are fun, exciting and feature some of our favorite Marvel superheroes. Even though, my daughter is a little young for this one, she still loves it and already came name every character on the cover!

Official Premise: Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and Falcon are Earth’s Mightiest Marvels-the Avengers! Join them as they work together to battle against sinister Super Villains such as Ultron, Thanos, the Masters of Evil,and more, to keep the Earth safe. Featuring 20 explosive stories of good vs. evil. Avengers assemble!

Let’s hope that this Storybook Collection is the first of many. There are literally an infinite collection of characters that they can include in future collections. This one has 20 stories included with all of the favorites like Iron Man and Captain America but I would love to be able to introduce my daughter to some of the lesser known characters as well. They could even do a female superhero only book OOHHHH OOHHHH or even better a villains only book. Who wouldn’t want to read a new story featuring everyone’s favorite Avenger villain, Loki! Fingers crossed!

Blu-ray Review “Thor: The Dark World”

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgaard, Idris Elba, Christopher Eccleston, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kat Dennings, Rene Russo
Directed By: Alan Taylor
Distributed by: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 112 minutes
Release Date: February 25th 2014

Film: 4 out of 5 Stars
Extras: 5 out of 5 Stars

It’s no secret here at Media Mikes that Thor’s is my personal favorite storyline in Marvel’s movie lineup. The first film in 2011 by Kenneth Brannagh managed to brilliantly balance the Asgardian-out-of-water comedic elements with the weightier family politics at play. It boasted a great cast of established talent including Natalie Portman, Rene Russo and Anthony Hopkins while effectively launching two more stars in Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston. Their on screen fraternal conflict as Thor and Loki respectively was strong enough to jump front and center in 2012’s The Avengers. The Dark World as a follow up to that megahit is slightly less successful in accentuating the appeals of the Mightiest Avenger and often struggles in balancing its tone. Still, with its strong cast of characters intact and imaginative otherworldly battles, the sequel remains a worthy entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Like the 2011 film, The Dark World begins in a prologue detailing an ancient battle between the Asgardians and the film’s baddies, the Dark Elves. Lead by Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), the Dark Elves lost a powerful evil force known as the Aether to Thor’s grandfather who hid this mysterious red goo out of their reach. Ancient feud established, we move forward to Loki, who actually always manages to speak before Thor in his own trilogy, how’s that for a silver tongue? Last seen muzzled by the Avengers in Central Park, Loki is now on trial before Odin. By his mother’s (Russo as Frigga) mercy, Loki is granted life in the dungeons as punishment for the mess he made in New York. His adoptive brother Thor remains next in line for Odin’s throne. Finally we get to Thor, who has just restored peace to the nine realms yet is distracted by his lingering feelings for astrophysicist-turned-love-interest Jane Foster (Portman). He didn’t even think to call on his last visit to Earth. The nerve. For her part, Foster is still invested in intergallactic goings-ons from her new base in London. Her devices lead her to an unfortunate possession by the Aether, necesitating a field trip to Asgard with Thor to both exorcise her and prevent the Dark Elves from regaining their power. Long story short (too late!) there’s a lot going on in the universe.

With so much going on, you might expect a longer film but The Dark World is shortest in runtime in the MCU and suffers a bit for it. Reviewing the blu-ray I could feel myself suddenly resenting having had to endure the excesses of say, The Desolation of Smaug while being so acutely aware of cut scenes here. The fact is in its rush to get to the action and the big battles, The Dark World misses out on the strengths unique to the Thor franchise. Specifically the family dynamics. Thor and Loki at this point have so much history and when they’re forced to team up against the larger elf threat, it’s no surprise that the strongest scenes in the film are between the two brothers. Considering we last saw them pummeling the living daylights out of one another in The Avengers, it is a great relief to see both actors really using their on screen chemistry and in the case of Hiddleston, Loki’s scene-stealing sarcasm, rather than they’re weapons. Their grief over a loss in their familly is palpable but then they’re also capable of fighting like children over who gets to drive the spaceship in one riot of a flight sequence. Hemsworth too has great comedic timing that often is overshadowed by his physical presence when it shouldn’t be. The scenes featuring both brothers have emminently more life to them than any between the heroes and this film’s villains.

Likewise, when Jane Foster is able to get her science on instead of being saddled with the Aether, we’re reminded what made her passionate character so likeable the first time. Her continued friendship with Kat Dennings’ outspoken intern Darcy is even more fun this time around with Dennings giving a pretty realistic response to seeing a god teleport through space. At least, I too would be swearing.

A major upside to this galaxy spanning story is how much the scale of Thor’s world increased since his solo outing. Asgard itself is given an entirely new depth and has been equipped with some magnificent viking-inspired flying machines. There’s also the welcome return of Thor’s fighting companions, the Warriors Three and Sif (Jaimie Alexander’s shield maiden who gets the award for most bad ass entrance in the film). The climatic battle which whips all the players around every corner of the universe–cleverly keeping Earthbound Act-of-Marvel-Movie damage to a minimum this time– provides fun glimpses into realms we’ve both seen previously (hey, Jotunheim!) and might explore in the future. As Thor 3 was recently confirmed, here’s hoping next time the creators do take this opportunity to expand their horizons and realize when it comes to the Asgardians more is more.

EXTRAS: Poor Rene Russo–as with the first film, the majority of her lovely performance as mother to the two warring Princes is relegated here to the deleted scenes. There are approximately eight minutes of them which were mainly cut, we’re informed in commentary, to make the film go faster. Unneccessarily I think, but I’m nevertheless grateful they see the light of day here. And with the amount of additional footage that was splashed all over the film’s marketing campaign in the fall of last year that’s still M.I.A on this set, I have no doubt that’s there’s likely still more in the Marvel vault waiting for its turn in the Marvel Phase Two box set.
Seriously, where’s Loki rocking this look from?

I digress.

As with all the recent Marvel releases, the disk is in fact packed with bonuses. Beyond the deleted scenes, there’s a fun gag reel, commentary with Kevin Feige, Alan Taylor and Tom Hiddleston sharing easter eggs that I even missed on theatrical viewings. Hiddleston also gets a moment to comment on his time spent in Captain America’s suit for a shapeshifting sequence (“it fit like a glove!”) and if you have need to see him looking like Thor, you can also find that screen test on one of the Blu-ray’s featurettes.

Crucially there’s the most substantial Marvel “one-shot” short film to date with “All Hail the King.” We get to catch us up with Ben Kingsley’s Iron Man 3 character in a funny way but also in a way that has much larger implications to the Iron Man story. Also it has a hilarious cameo from a character I had genuinely not expected to see again.

Film Review “Thor: The Dark World”

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman and Tom Hiddleston
Directed by: Alan Taylor
Rated: PG 13
Running time: 1 hour 52 mins
Marvel Entertainment

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

Meet the Dark Elves, a race of beings intent on ruling the world thanks to a weapon they possess call the Aether. Defeated by warriors from Asgard, including Thor (Hemsworth), the Elves’ leader, Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), escapes, intent on striking again. Thinking they are doing the right thing, the warriors try to bury the Aether deep and out of site. Sadly, they buried most of the fun in this film with them.

Oddly paced and slow to start, “Thor: The Dark World” is an overall good film, yet it pales in comparison to the Marvel films that have come before it. Though this film retains the first film’s humor it takes itself too seriously at times. Part of the reason is that the first half of the film is more concerned with Jane (Portman). Underused in the first film it’s as if the producers wanted to get their money’s worth this time out. Along with Jane we get her friend, Darcy (Kat Dennings). This is a good thing. The scenes with Dennings are among the best in the film. She keeps the story moving along. The other plus is Hiddleston as Thor’s older brother, Loki. Bitter at having been overlooked for the throne, Loki is a snake in Norse clothing. Hemsworth is a fine balance of strength and humor and, once the action starts, takes the film over.

If there is a major flaw in the film it is the direction of Alan Taylor, who honed his craft on many HBO series over the years. He only has three feature films to his credit in 18 years, the most recent released a decade ago. Three movies in that time is fine if you’re Terrence Malick. Taylor isn’t. What’s odd is that there is really nothing in his past credits that would warrant him getting this assignment. “The Sopranos?” “Nurse Jackie?” “Mad Men?” Good dramas all, but nothing there suggests the ability to helm a major special effects movie. The fact he is slated to direct the new “Terminator” film is pretty disconcerting.

Pacing aside, the film does deliver some thrills once the action begins. And thrills are what you’re paying your money to see.

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje talks about roles in "Bullet to the Head" and "Thor: The Dark World"

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is best known for his roles in TV series like Mr. Eko on “Lost” and Simon Adebisi on “Oz”. He has one hell of a busy year planned for 2013 with “Bullet to the Head” with Sylvester Stallone, Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World” and a coming-of-age film “The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Adewale about how he gets into characters and his busy year.

Mike Gencarelli: How was it going head-to-head with Sylvester Stallone in “Bullet to the Head”?
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje: Well as you can imagine there was a lot of testosterone, but also a lot of fun. You are working with a legend of that genre, also Walter Hill, who is a legendary director. It was a lot of fun but it was also strictly business. It was bullets to the head…get in there and deliver. Just had a great time overall man!

MG: Give us some background on your character Morel?
AAA: He is an African businessman, who is somewhat corrupt. He has escaped from Africa with huge amount of funds, moved to the United States and landed in New Orleans. He is very smart and also ruthless and his goal is to own most of New Orleans…by any means necessary. He has his stable of henchmen and is also very sophisticated. It is all camouflage for what lies below, which is a ruthless and cold-hearted businessman. He is also conflicted with a crippling disability but he does not allow that to impede him as a formidable force. In fact he uses that to propel him and try harder.

MG: Is there anything in particular you do to prepare for a role like that?
AAA: It is just a matter of having dialogue with the director. A lot of it was on the page but then we added texture and dimension. I chatted with the director and saw what he would like to explore. Also I was given the choice if I wanted to make him crippled or not. I thought it would be an interesting challenge to do so and add more texture to the character. So we went for that. I think as we started to see him on screen we started to see him unravel with different layers. I did have to hobble around on sticks for a good 2-3 weeks before we shot it though in order to get the disability right. Other than that it was really get in there and feel the character. We shot it in very opulent locations in New Orleans and that always adds to your performance.

MG: How did you prepare for such an iconic comic villains playing both Algrim the Strong and Kurse in “Thor: The Dark World”?
AAA: It was a huge opportunity to pull double duty. In order to prepare you obviously go through and read the comics and research the characters history. You also look at the imagery and have discussions with Marvel and the directors to see their vision for the characters. Then the rest is left for the designers who create the costumes, which really then assists in your performance. Specifically for Kurse, it was very much looking at the costume and what I thought it would embody. For instance it had a certain look, so I used that look for his interpretive actions. I found that very useful. So with the horns and everything, I just went with that flow and tried to define a way of moving and fighting that was in the rhythm and the way that he looked. With Algrim, again the aesthetic look and the outfit really factored in as does the location and the set. From the moment you step into that world, you immediately become that character. You make them real. So in a way you have to ground the character in reality that makes it normal for them to be in that world. I believe and hope that we have done that well in this and that the audiences are going to enjoy it.

MG: You were called “The Biggest Badass in Hollywood” (by Huff Post); what keeps you coming back and playing the villain in roles like this?
AAA: What makes me or what makes them keep hiring me? I think it is one in the same thing. I think we both enjoy it. I think the industry knows that I can deliver when playing the villain. I certainly enjoy playing the villain because you have this created likeness to really go anywhere. When you play the hero, there are parameters that you cannot cross. But with the bad guy, there is no such thing and you can do basically what you like. That is a creative freedom and luxury that I love. They also always make the most interesting character for me. The funny thing is though; I never really look at these as bad. I look at them as guys who have agendas and they will do what they need to do in acquire, obtain or accomplish them. So to make the most interesting villain is that you need to see him as an ordinary guy who have a mission.

MG: From action to superheroes we go to the coming-of-age “The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete”, tell us about this project?
AAA: This is a very different type of movie. As you can see we have done all genres across the board from huge Marvel tentpole to iron-packed action. This film really comes down to what I really love, a small independent film. It premiered at Sundance and was shot by George Tillman Jr. It has got Jeffrey Wright, Jennifer Hudson, Anthony Mackie and an absolutely spectacular group of children actors. It is based on the survival of these two children in a hot and tough summer in Brooklyn. I play a cop, on the other side of the law this time, who is trying to keep these straight kids off the streets. It is just one of those endearing stories of survival and friendship. It is very real. I also love shooting in New York during the summer. This one is not about the costumes or effects or anything. It is about heart-to-heart relationships.

Be sure to follow @Adewale on his official twitter page.

DVD Review "Thor: Legend of the Magical Hammer"

Starring: Justin Gregg, Pail Tylak, Nicola Coughlan, Alan Stanford, Liz Lloyd, Paul Tylak
Directors: Oskar Jonasson
Distributed by: Arc Entertainment
Release Date: 01/15/2013
MPAA Rating: PG
Run Time: 83 minutes

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

After the success of “The Avengers”, you have to imagine that there will be tons of copycats trying to cash in on its success. “Thor: Legend of the Magical Hammer” though is a pretty well done CG animated film. The story is very silly and not the sharpest but still fun, especially for kids. This film includes a few firsts This is a Walmart exclusive and is the first full-length animated film to come out of Iceland, thanks to the studio CAOZ. For that being said, it is really well done. The animation is quite impressive, if you can over the way Thor looks. Kids who are fans of superheros should definitely enjoy this.

Official Premise: Thor, the son of the mighty god Odin, battles the evil Ice Queen and her army of vicious giants in this exciting animated adventure! Thor is a village blacksmith who dreams of being a mighty warrior, practicing with a broomstick as his mother laughs at him. When a talking hammer falls from the sky, he realizes he may truly have a way to fulfill his dreams.  Soon after, the Ice Queen kidnaps his mother and the rest of the villagers, and he must reach deep inside himself to unleash his full powers to fight the queen and her army.  Will Thor and his magical hammer be enough to save the world from destruction?

On thing I just need to point out is that the Ice Queen reminded me so much like Izma from Disney’s “The Emperor’s New Groove”, she is decent baddie but no Loki. Arc Entertainment is the distributor and they have yet to cross over into 3D Blu-ray, as they barely release many Blu-ray but this film was made in 3D.  It includes many over-the-top 3D gimmicks, though would have been fun to see but remain unavailable. There are no special features besides a trailer included.  Lastly there is a Vudu digital copy of the film included.