• Tag Archives Don Payne
  • Canister X Movie Review #87: Thor (2011)

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    Thor (2011)
    Written by Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz and Don Payne
    Directed by Kenneth Branagh
    Runtime 115 min.
    5 out of 5

    Long ago Odin (Anthony Hopkins) led Asgard to victory against the Jotunheim Frost Giants and captured the source of their power, the Casket of Ancient Warriors. Over a thousand years later, Odin is about to crown his son, Thor (Chris Hemsworth), as King of Asgard, but the coronation ceremony is interrupted when the Front Giants find a way into the weapons vault and try to steal back the Casket. Fortunately, it wasn’t stolen as the giants fell before they could take it. Wanting to make an example of them, Thor and some of his loyal companions travel to Jotunheim against his father’s wishes and start a war with the giants. Odin rescues them but not without grave consequences: upon returning to Asgard, Thor is banished to Earth for his actions, powerless and alone. Only his hammer, Mjolnir, is sent with him, but now with an enchantment that only the worthy can wield it—and Thor is not.

    On Earth, Thor meets Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), an astrophysicist who was there along with her mentor, Dr. Erik Selvig, the night Thor came through the wormhole.

    Meanwhile, Thor’s brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), finds out that his own heritage is not what he was told and, upon finding out his true origin, seeks to ensure his brother never returns to Asgard so he could become the king instead.

    While on Earth, Thor must learn what it means to be humble, care for others, and thus earn his place as the proper king of Asgard, all in time to stop his brother from leading the Frost Giants into Asgard and destroying Odin’s kingdom.


    This flick was Marvel’s fourth film in its Phase One plan leading up to The Avengers.

    I love this movie. It’s down-to-earth, fun, has a good story and enough action to keep things exciting but not so much that it bogs down the entire movie.

    Up until this flick, Thor was basically an unknown character to the movie-going public, and Thor does its job on giving the character a rich history, making you care about him, and making you cheer him on on his path to redemption.

    The scenes on Asgard were breathtaking—heavenly, even—the size and scope of the city enough to inspire awe. The stuff on Earth, well, it’s just the stuff on Earth and this is the first I’ve personally seen the realms of fantasy and reality merge so well. There was a bit of that in the Harry Potter movies, but those kids never went to another world where it’s fantasy-type stuff 24/7.

    The special effects were awesome and, to me, were a kind of unintentional preview to an exciting live action Superman movie, with Thor being the one in the red cape this time. The flying sequences were powerful, the strength, the lightning blasts—all good stuff, and with The Avengers on the horizon, the climatic fight scene between Thor and the Destroyer was well-paced and well done, saving Thor’s best for the ensemble film to come a year later.

    The relationship between Thor and Loki was done especially well because most siblings feel that their parents favor one above the other. There’s always going to be some sibling rivalry, jealousy and competitiveness. This flick nailed that, in my opinion, especially on Loki’s side of things. I mean, at times you can’t help but feel bad for the guy and sympathize with his motives (that’s the mark of a good villain, by the way).

    Thor is a sweet introduction to the character, sets him up really well for The Avengers, and this reviewer can’t wait to check out Thor: The Dark World and see how the Mighty Thor grows as a hero and as Asgard’s king.

  • Canister X Movie Review #60: My Super Ex-girlfriend (2006)

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    My Super Ex-girlfriend (2006)
    Written by Don Payne
    Directed by Ivan Reitman
    Runtime 95 min.
    4 out of 5

    What would you do if you found out the woman you were seeing was actually a superhero? It’s exactly what happens to Matt Saunders (Luke Wilson) when he discovers his shy but very controlling girlfriend, Jenny Johnson (Uma Thurman), is really G-Girl. Aside from being able to fly, bend steel bars with her bare hands, shoot lasers from her eyes and a host of other classic powers, she’s also every guy’s nightmare girlfriend and soon Matt can’t take it anymore and breaks up with her. While he tries to get on with his life—which is way easier thanks to Hannah (Anna Farris), a pretty blonde in his office with whom he’s got good chemistry—Jenny’s not having so easy a time and makes his life a living hell, barraging him with super trouble and threats that only a super ex-girlfriend can bring. Meanwhile, G-Girl’s arch nemesis, Professor Bedlam (Eddie Izzard), has his own plans for G-Girl and seeks to strip her of her powers once and for all.

    It’s good times, lots of laughs and loads of nods to the metahuman genre in this superhero romance comedy that you’re sure to love.


    I’m not big on romantic comedies. You’ve seen one, you’ve pretty much seen them all. However, there are exceptions and, for me, putting a new twist on them is the way to get this viewer’s attention. If you make that twist superheroes, you’ve definitely caught my eye and My Super Ex-girlfriend does just that. While superhero romance is explored in the comics, it’s never intentionally explored on the big screen. While modern day superhero movies do have romantic elements or a romantic subplot, it’s never in the foreground—until now. By adding a comedic element, you take the risk of ruining the genre by making it too tongue-in-cheek or campy. Not so in this flick. Sure, there are a few silly moments, but on the whole, the genre is still treated with respect and taken seriously in the context of the film.

    Uma Thurman is one of my favorite actresses. She’s extremely versatile and is quite the chameleon. Seeing her both as the sleek and strong G-Girl and then as her Clark Kent-ish opposite Jenny Johnson shows she can play both sides of the same coin. More so, she also—whether intentionally or not, I don’t know—knows how to stand the coin on edge, and that is portray that hero while not in their public civilian identity but also not in their super one as well. It’s the side of a superhero character you don’t often see and, interestingly, it’s this side of the Jenny/G-Girl character that makes up most of the screen time in this flick. As a writer of superheroes myself (see The Axiom-man Saga), it’s this side of the hero that most intrigues me because it’s the side where they’re just being themselves without having to put on a show for the public heroically or in disguise.

    Luke Wilson—he’s Luke Wilson. At least out of all the movies I’ve seen him in, he’s, well, Luke Wilson, the soft-spoken awkward nice guy with a bit of wit. Such a character worked well to play opposite Jenny Johnson’s crazed tendencies. Sort of the whole straight-man side of the comedy duo equation.

    This movie is special in that it stands out amongst superhero comedies because it takes itself seriously while still being funny, and is able to make you suspend all disbelief for its hour-and-a-half runtime.

    If you’re looking for something lighthearted, but something super, My Super Ex-girlfriend should be at the top of your list.

  • Canister X Movie Review #30: Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)

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    Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)
    Written by Don Payne and Mark Frost
    Directed by Tim Story
    Runtime 92 min.
    4 out of 5

    Galactus, a giant planet-eating alien, is heading for Earth and he sends the Silver Surfer to scout things out. When the Fantastic Four meet this herald of destruction, all bets are off and it’s a race to save the planet before Galactus can consume it.


    What a great follow up to 2005’s Fantastic Four. I remember when news hit that the Silver Surfer would be involved and that Galactus would be the bad guy I was beside myself with fanboy joy. And that trailer? Man, sweet stuff and totally got me stoked. Did this movie live up to the hype? Not completely, but that’s not to say it was a terrible movie. It was every bit as good as its predecessor, but more exciting thanks to the Silver Surfer zipping around on his board and the Fantastic Four trying to track him down. That scene where the Human Torch meets the Surfer and the two quickly have it out? Yeah, sweet stuff.

    This flick played up all the stuff that made the first one good, which was the family dynamic of the Fantastic Four, the bitter evilness of Dr. Doom, and then upped the ante by bringing in Galactus. Unfortunately, Galactus—while just fine as a concept—failed to deliver in terms of execution as comic book fans were really hoping for the giant space man with the purple helmet instead of the big haze of cloud we got. Some would argue that a big man that’s larger than planet Earth wouldn’t translate to film and a space cloud works better, but I disagree because Galactus is an all-powerful alien, can change size and could work as is if written well.

    I totally dug Laurence Fishburne as the voice of the Silver Surfer. The guy can say anything and it’ll sound cool (i.e. see his dialogue as Morpheus in The Matrix and its sequels; the words themselves are ridiculous but he makes them sound awesome).

    The story arc as suggested at in this flick would’ve better been the stuff of a trilogy, starting off with the Silver Surfer’s origin, how he got involved with Galactus, even a demo of him going ahead of his master to a planet other than Earth, the destruction of that planet then going to Earth, meeting the FF, and the whole planet getting ready to fend off this literally giant threat. So I feel we got the Reader’s Digest version of such a story in this movie. It still works, but it could’ve been expanded upon.

    As always, the SFX were great and they tidied up Mr. Fantastic’s stretching abilities so they weren’t as cartoony as in the first movie.

    I totally would’ve been up for them to make a third movie, but with Marvel’s Phase One plan no doubt in the works at the time this flick was released, we’re basically going to get a Fantastic Four reboot at some point in the future, probably sooner rather than later.

    I’ll be there because I liked these movies and am eager to see how things will progress from here and if it’ll be an all-out reboot complete with origin story, or if they’ll sort of unofficially acknowledge these movies that came before.