Thursday, May 19, 2011

SuperSoundtracks #2: Terrax the Tamer and KMFDM

Stories about the Heralds of Galactus are always interesting reads. Some have been exiled to Earth, others fallen hopelessly in love with their employer, and still others have gone off and done some pretty awful things within the larger Marvel Universe. In this, the second edition of Super-Soundtracks, we’re going to discuss a former Herald – a nasty, brutish yet sometimes honourable fellow named Terrax the Tamer.

(Galactus discusses his previous employees in FF #211)

Terrax the Tamer first appeared in Fantastic Four #211 (1979) and was created by Marv Wolfman and John Byrne. In the story, the FF find themselves on a quest for a herald for Galactus in yet another attempt to Earth. At first, Terrax is named 'Tyros' and is a nasty city-state dictator with both a mutant-like power to manipulate stone and a less than amicable personality. When this comes to the attention of Galactus (via our protagonists) he is drafted into the service of Big G and given the Power Cosmic.

(Terrax The Tamer is born in FF #211)

Like most Heralds, Terrax eventually rebels and goes freelance. He would return for a number of stories including FF #237, where he assists the Four against the Sphinx, ROM #37 where he would do battle with the Galadorian and Silver Surfer #73 (The Heralds Ordeal) where he helps the Surfer against Galactus and Morg the Executioner.

Terrax the Tamer is mostly malevolent and even when he does the honourable thing (and teams with the Surfer or FF) it's usually done for self interest. So in keeping with these characteristics, the track WGTB has chosen as Terrax’s theme is Godlike by the German Industrial-Metal band, KMFDM. The driving beat, heavy guitar (sampled from a Black Sabbath track) and the brutish, nihilistic and destructive lyrics match our character to a tee. Moreover, and perhaps more appropriately, ‘godlike' is what one becomes when they get they acquire the Power Cosmic so the title fits perfectly. He’s not the most memorable foe to have faced the Fantastic Four or even the most memorable Herald of Galactus, but that’s what makes him a perfect candidate for a Super Soundtrack!

Here it is: Godlike by KMFDM for Terrax the Tamer.

(DISCLAIMER: WGTB’s Legal Department would like to remind you -- DO NOT play this industrial metal song in your workplace. You’ll come across looking a little... maladjusted.)

Monday, May 2, 2011

"Well, I guess that’s worth a look": A Review of THOR

Director: Kenneth Branagh

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman

We have to admit: WGTB had been looking forward to THOR for a long, long time. Remember the leaked Comic-Con trailer? Amazing. It set the bar high and that was a good thing. Also, knowing Kenneth Branagh was directing was good too. We certainly believed a veteran Shakespearean performer might be just the person to take this comic book movie to the silver screen. Well, this past Sunday, WGTB took time to see the film and here are our thoughts.

(Warning: Spoilers Below)

Thor is primarily about the relationships between three gods: the namesake, his brother Loki, and their father, Odin. From the beginning it is clear they are competing – not just for their father’s love, but his kingdom too. When they grow up, Thor is the warrior everyone respects and appears to be the heir-apparent. When subterfuge from the ancient enemy creates a stir, however, Thor and his friends disobey Odin’s orders of non-violence and take the fight to the enemy’s realm. When this goes badly, Odin exiles Thor to Earth, where he starts his voyage back to redemption. While on earth he meets a beautiful and intelligent woman, makes new allies, and sets the stage for a later return.

Notwithstanding some obvious plot holes such as non-punishment for Thor’s accomplices, or the strange fact that Norse gods seem to steer clear of Northern Europe and enjoy sunning themselves in New Mexico, WGTB would recommend this film.

The Norse visuals, including the costumes, are stunning and surpass the standard set by other comic book films. Asgard looks amazing and the cosmos as viewed from it is was remarkable. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for what should have been a much easier task – the New Mexico town. These have an underwhelming ‘back-lot’ look and resembles a 1912 Ghost Town (albeit with obvious product-placements and corporate billboards) rather than a modern American city. If this was a directorial homage to Westerns, then perhaps Branagh can be forgiven. However, WGTB does not think so.

The acting was acceptable too. Chris Hemsworth (Thor) was able to carry the film; Anthony Hopkins (Odin) was worth seeing; as was Colm Feore as the menacing Laufey, King of the Frost Giants. It might have been due to fatigue, but Natalie Portman (Jane Foster) seemed flat and one dimensional. Stellan SkarsgĂ„rd (Erik Selvig) was great (as usual) and the hint towards his future involvement in the Avengers franchaise was welcome. WGTB could have done completely without the silly antics of Kat Denning’s character -- not because she’s a bad actress, but simply because the attempt at comic relief was unnecessary. Tom Hiddleston, however, was WGTB’s clear favourite and was a very capable Loki, so obviously taking Branagh’s expertise with Shakespeare’s Iago, and making the trickster of the comic-books in a menacing, manipulative yet sympathetic villan. WGTB really thinks the new Loki works and agrees with this direction. Simply put, the movie could not have been pulled off with just a ‘God of Mischief’ as the principal antagonist -- it just wouldn’t have held the audience.

Marvel Studios also included those elements that the Fanboys crave and that was fun. We had our first encounter with Hawkeye and possibility even Luke Cage. The post-credit scene was great too, and we finally don’t have to wait a year to see what happens. Oh, and for those of you who don’t know – NEVER LEAVE A MARVEL FILM UNTIL THE END OF THE CREDITS. They always sneak in one final scene. So did it work? Yes, it was a good but not excellent movie and WGTB would give it 3.5 out of 5 stars. It has set up a likable Thor for the 2012 Avengers film, but will leave Robert Downey Jr. and possibly even Chris Evans in the driver’s seat for that one – which is a good thing. Thor is showing in cinemas across the UK now and will start showing in North American theatres on May 6th.