Paging Doctor Mister Strange. Your Origin Story Is Here

Doctor Strange 4.4/5

I’m not sure how often I’ve mentioned it in a review here, but I really hate that all movies now have to be a minimum of two hours. When movies drag out it is super lame. What ever happened to the 90 minute movie?

What does this have to do with anything? Well, Marvel went and made themselves a two hour movie that felt like a 90 minute fast paced, tripping balls, action movie and it rocked. I’m positive that the 1h55m run time listed on IMDB is a lie.

Benedict Cumberbatch’s American accent was not distracting. He was also good at being Doctor Strange because Doctor Strange is an asshole, self-centered, boastful, and a bit of a dickbag. He nailed it.

The supporting cast was interesting too.

  • Mordo was more interesting here than any time I’ve read him in the comics. He isn’t just the foil to Doctor Strange in the traditional mirror villain way most comic villains are
  • Wong taking more from the recent Way of the Weird inspiration as an army general was well served and executed. It sets up well for the future films if they continue down the WotW comic story.
  • The Ancient One and her monologues never took too long or felt too… “I’m so ancient and wise” which is so easy to do with the Grandmaster character. I liked how she wouldn’t take more than two or three sentences to ever make her point.

Was the villain a little underdeveloped? I suppose. But he was what he was and they didn’t try to do more. If I was more into spoilers I would go into more here. It’s hard to kinda get into what I want to say without letting it all hang out.

The tie-ins to the greater MCU? Fine. A shot of Avengers Tower with downtown New York? Good, in fact I would have loved to have seen the Oscorp tower too. Off hand mention of the Avengers? Cool. Blah blah Infinity Stones? Yeah duh.

I also liked things that were designed to be more character moments too. Complications around The Oath. The roller coaster of his status. Utilitarian vs Individualism was especially fun. I like to thing about the “What Ifs?” in a movie a lot. Like what if the character took the right path and not the left one. Make the renegade choice and and not be a paragon.

The action was well shot and smart. It was “magical” and manipulative. Creative and the use of the environment sets this apart from shoot-bang-kick-smash that most of the Marvel movies do.

The climax was great, smart and interesting on a few levels. I would have liked a little more fire, though (and you’ll understand that once you see it).

The trippy kaleidoscope effects were worth the price of admission. Same with the bright colours and tints and blurs and whatever else. I’m not one who does, but people who partake in certain psychedelics would have a blast about 30 minutes in.

The mid-credits scene was nice. I’m always of two minds on these. Part of me likes when these things are kept almost entirely to their self, but then the part of me who wants to see a 5 hour film of nothing but comic book crossover porn just loves it.

The end-credits scene plays into what we’ve seen from the character and sets up the sequel and maybe a small portion of Infinity War (if you make great leaps of imagination with fan theory that I do).

Would I like to have seen a little more doctor-ing? Sure enough. More Rachel McAdams being a Canadian sweetheart? Yeah. Some more cult time? Sure!

But at the same time, I really enjoy a movie that doesn’t bugger about too much and just keeps things going.

I will see this again. And probably again. Then once more. At least.

Thanks for reading! 🙂

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Ranking the Modern Marvel Movies, 6-1

UPDATED WITH GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY CLICK HERE

Into the best of the best. And quite honestly these movies are more or less interchangeable at the top.

6. X-men: Days of Future Past

Plot holes, shmot holes. It was so great as a turbonerd to see the entire cast, except Nightcrawler, all together. It also replaces all the poo taste left in your mouth from X3 and Origins: Wolverine. Hitting the rest button in such a way is really risky, but they did it in a very satisfying and interesting way while still leaving the door open for both sets of X-casts. I love timeline stories. Enjoyed how it made Wolverine less of THE super hero and more of a dude and put a lot of focus on the rest of the cast. The great layering of social commentary that is so important to Xmen was handled well and the scale/scope was really given its due.

5. X2

For one whole year we had the gold standard for comic book movies. Now, we just have the benchmark for every Xmen film for eternity to aspire towards. I don’t think I can pick anything out in this movie that wasn’t excellent. Nightcrawler’s implementation was perfect. Still might be Hugh Jackman’s best Wolverine performance to date. Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart could not have possibly done any better in their roles. And Brian Singer was able to nail the subtext/social commentary while balancing it with the action and avoiding some annoying and preachy movie with special effects. The expanded cast of mutants was great to see and even though many had only a scene or two, it was worth it and not at all cluttered. What a joy to watch.

4. Iron Man

This and Batman Begins are the holy grail of super hero origin stories. Just nailed it. One of the best parts is that the relationship with the villain is established early in the movie versus “meeting” them halfway through. This film launched Marvel into the universe they are in now and has launched Tony Stark as a character much the same way that Jack Sparrow became as big/bigger than the films. There is excellent chemistry between characters and they trade witticisms like real people versus comedy characters. Iron Man is as perfectly cast as any movie on this list. Robert Downey Jr nails the rockstar flippancy of Tony Stark, as well as the character arc from playboy to responsible playboy. Lastly, Iron Man is basically the only Avengers era movie where the hero kills and it isn’t cheap. That is an accomplishment in super hero fiction.  Jeff Bridges was an excellent cigar munching fatcat. The ending serves as an excellent contrast of motives. Best of all? They got the suit right. Nothing could have saved this if the suit was wrong. A++

3. Spider Man 2

Stop smashing your keyboard that this is not #1. From here up, its literally a case of 1a, 1b ad 1c. This stole the mantle from X2 as the gold standard and took almost a decade to topple/be met. It has every element from the comics that makes Spider Man so great. The angst, variety of emotions, goofiness, melodrama, romance, and intensity and has it all spun (like a web!) together expertly. Every scene is a perfect compliment to every other scene and fully reached and surpassed the potential that anyone could have forseen for the super hero “genre” of movies. The only thing, and this is minor, is that Kirsten Dunst still just isn’t up to par with the rest of the movie but she still holds her own well. Toby McGuire perfectly captured Peter Parker in this movie in a way I’m unconvinced Andrew Garfield ever will. I haven’t even touched on Doc Oc yet, which was masterfully done. The train scene, pictured, is my favourite scene from any Spider Man movie. The perfect Spider Man movie.

2. The Avengers

The fact that this movie didn’t crash and burn is unbelievable. Just think about the task at hand here, then realize that they pulled it off and the only crap scenes in the entire movie are when awkward dialogue about “red in my ledger” is brought up. The rest? Flawless, especially the smaller character dynamics that only someone familiar with the cartoons/comics would recognize. Such as the various bromances, who has animosity with who, character pairings, etc. It hits so well on so many little things. Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk steals the show and satiates a lot of the hunger for a solo Hulk film. I never understood a lot of the hype behind Joss Whedon but with this film I got it. The little things are done as well as the big things and the character interaction all seems so natural. Its long, but it never feels as long as it really is and everything in the movie, and other bits from other films, come around in a nice full circle here to make a completely satisfying and exhilarating experience.

1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

One of the things that is so impressive about this movie is how different it feels compared to The Avengers, Thor: TDW and Iron Man 3. There is a lot more plot and considering how heavy it is into espionage and thriller, versus CGI action movie, it had to be that way. You’ve got double and triple crosses, Nazi’s, a boatload of assassins and politics. You’re also taking a guy who’s only powers are incredible fitness, a shield and punching dudes really really hard and taking him so far and away from the ground-level hero that you’d expect the execution to fall apart. Except it doesn’t. The action is a great blend of CGI action (Falcon) and dude-punch-dude (Cap/Widow). Evans delivers Captain America so well, and the rest of the cast supports him and the movie in their unique way. Lastly, it established Cap as a moral compass globally and not just as America man fighting for America and the American Way for all of America’s interests of protecting and promoting America.

Marvel movies 28-18

Marvel movies 17-7

 

Ranking the Modern Marvel Movies, 28-18

Gonna rank these bad boys since I’ve seen them all over the last 6 months. Except both Ghost Rider movies, but I heard I didn’t miss anything. And well, you didn’t miss anything with most of these either.

28. Fantastic Four

This movie sucks. They turned Marvel’s First Family into a silly sitcom family. Instead of fighting bad guys, they basically spend the entire movie bickering amongst each other. Its a shame, because Doctor Doom is arguably the greatest comic book villain of all time and he’s just marginalized by everything. The unreleased F4 movie from like 1991 is significantly better.

27. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

This movie sucks, but just a bit less because its less sitcom and more terribly done action movie. They actually do superhero stuff and save the world. Doctor Doom is bungled again. Galactus is a… cloud? Why is Reed Richards using his stretching ability to wheel ladies at a nightclub? Blargh, I hope Fox fixes it next time or just give it back to Marvel.

26. Elektra

When I went to HMV to get all the movies I didn’t have or couldn’t get on Netflix, I almost forgot this one existed until I Googled before leaving. Everything is forgettable and I don’t really even know what happened. I wonder how they got this approved after Daredevil.

25. Daredevil

This should have worked better. Daredevil is a great street-level superhero and especially in a time before Iron Man and the Avengers, this could have worked. But, its just not right. Ben Affleck didn’t work here, but I think it was more Fox trying to have their way with the material and “adapt” it for “regular” people. Granted, Michael Clarke Duncan and Colin Farrell do pretty well as villains, but things just aren’t right. All this time and I still can’t figure it out as far as what specifically doesn’t click, but its not good.

24. Punisher

I like the Punisher. I really do. He’s like comic book Max Payne or The Hitman. Like if Batman just gunned everyone down. He should be an interesting, violent, sorta-crazy vigilante, but he was just a boring, goofy caricature without the desire for gunfire and blood he should have. And seriously, getting back at John Travolta by getting him a parking ticket for parking too close to a fire hydrant? This is a dude who is like the angriest, bestest dude at killing in the world with guns, and that’s vengeance?

23. Spiderman 3

I have so many reasons for hating this movie. All the dumb, goofy scenes like dancing and crying. Harry Osborne going nuts. Sandman’s whole “story”. Completely neutering Venom. But most of all, being so bad they rebooted it shortly after into a completely average series of films. This movie sucks.

22. X-MenOrigins: Wolverine

F–k. This movie did a lot of stuff I like with all sorts of mutants and some really cool ideas and Gambit but then everything got dumb and the execution was… well it was poo. The CGI sucks. There are 3 scenes its awful. First, when he’s looking at his claws in the mirror. Second, when he was destroying the fire escape. Third, the whole scene with Patrick Stewart and all the kids running towards him at the end. I want to know who came up with memory bullets, and “The Deadpool”, and Will.I.Am, and everything. Where did Gambit get a plane?

21. X-Men: The Last Stand

The only reason this is higher is because they killed Cyclops who totally sucks but that was only the first of two good things. The second good thing is how many mutants we got to see: Colossus, Shadowcat, Juggernaut, etc. Now onto the bad, such as everything. Its such a mess. The biggest mess. Of all messes. Plot, characters, dialogue, structure, camera work. There is a third good thing though and its honestly amazing how Magneto and Professor X have awful lines, but Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart deliver them so well they become mediocre. There is also all the action you could ever want to see too, but it can only be so entertaining before it becomes visual noise.

20. The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Another steaming pile of crap. I don’t know where to begin. I guess I’ll start with the good, which is Emma Stone and Emma Stone wearing skirts all movie. Why did we need like 4 villains? Electro sucks. His death makes no sense. Why did he wear boxers and a battery meter? The new Green Goblin is one of the dumbest things I’ve seen in comics. And the plane scene was utterly pointless. And the parents story-line was horribly unsatisfying. And the whole thing just felt like 4 or 5 episodes of a Spiderman TV show played back-to-back and not at all like a movie. Andrew Garfield was up and down and overall meh again. The biggest sin of all is that this movie is “launching” us into the Spider Man Movie Universe. The most pointless and unnecessary movie universe of all movie universes.

19. Hulk

I wanted to like this more. Its really ambitious and is shot almost like a motion comic. Almost a literal comic adaptation. Or even taking a lot of the scenes from the TV show and making them into a movie. But it just doesn’t have any of the “it” factor to be really good. I think it comes down to an issue with the Hulk himself. Hulk is more of an antihero. He doesn’t do well as a hero, because once he turns green he just destroys everything. He doesn’t really have much intelligence as the Hulk which almost makes the action scenes sort of mindless. I think more of it falls on Eric Bana and trying to make Bruce Banner interesting.

18. Punisher Warzone

Punisher - War Zone Now, this movie isn’t terrible as a movie. Guns, explosions, wacky, good camera work. But it never really felt like the Punisher to me for whatever reason, and I just don’t quite know why that is specifically. Felt more like The Expendables before The Expendables. There is all the violence and gore and mess you’d expect from an R rated Punisher, but it didn’t fit. Its been like 10 years and I still can’t pin point exactly what puts me off.

Marvel movies 17-8

Marvel movies 6-1

Video Games Don’t Kill People

tdb_108_video_games_kill_people_by_shadowmaginis-d4ybhxx I was watching With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story the other day and there was an great segment of the documentary devoted to the heat that the comic book industry faced during the 50’s because it was comic books that were ruining and corrupting young people. The only proof presented was shoddy – 100/100 juvenile delinquents read comic books, which today would be like asking junior high boys if they played video games – and at the time it gave an excuse and a scapegoat for poor parenting.

“You’re not a bad parent, its those comic books ruining your kids!” – direct quote from the documentary.

Fast forward to 15 or 20 years ago around Columbine.

“You’re not a bad parent, its that heavy metal ruining your kids!”

And nowadays,

“You’re not a bad parent, its those video games ruining your kids!”

So where does that leave us? Maybe the issues of troubled youth and mental instability aren’t because of a specific form of multimedia culture but the lack of a proper upbringing. I like comics and movies and music and video games a whole lot. I’ve never shot anyone in the name of demonic music/movies/video games. I also had parents that were very stern with me on what was okay and what was not. Not very long ago after the shooting in Connecticut a major news outlet reported that “According to a friend of the shooter, his favourite weapon in a video game was the assault rifle!” Then the article continued that since he played a video game with an assault rifle that it made him do this atrocity (paraphrased). Neat. Sick reporting bro. I prefer shotguns in most shooting games. I also like to throw fire balls in RPG’s and perform fatalities in fighting games. Not once have I fired a shotgun at a human, tried to manipulate fire in my hand or rip someone in half. video-games-kill Maybe theses issues go beyond multimedia and into far more difficult avenues of society? But those lack the easy canned outrage that old ass senators, who’ve never held a controller in their life, can conjure up. Much like the ones before them blamed heavy metal. And the ones before them blamed comic books. Much easier to blame things you have no experience with. Its like wrestling and steroids. Any time a wrestler dies, STEROIDS! Not alcoholism, drug abuse, mental illness, etc. STEROIDS! Why? It is easy. It ruined baseball too so demonize anywhere it might be. Don’t mention that caffeine abuse has all the same negative side effects of steroids. Its STEROIDS! because of lazy reporting. Do you have a source? No. Ah whatever. STEROIDS. Take the easy way out. There is an argument to be made about a culture of violence in today’s society. But that culture doesn’t start and end with video games. Ugh.