The Reviews are In: Dr. Strange

maxresdefaultThere’s a moment during Marvel’s Dr. Strange when the titular Sorcerer Supreme, while discussing the (spoiler) sometimes dubious motivations of The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) with Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Mordo, thinks for a moment and says, “She’s… complicated.”

Complicated is a pretty good word for Dr. Strange, too. It’s characters are layered, it’s action set pieces are frickin breathtaking, and it boasts a level of political and social awareness and I, for one, am coming to expect from Marvel. But first things first. Let’s reign it in for a sec and talk about the Cumberbatch of it all. If you’re not a fan of England’s finest import doctor-strange-1since Posh, Scary, Baby, Sporty, and Ginger, you’re either not female or not a fan of marine mammals. If such is the case, this might not be the post for you. So… scoot. Yep. Go watch the new XXX trailer on repeat.

Are they gone? Oh good. Now that it’s just us Cumberbitches, let’s get to it.

Even as someone who expects only the very best from Benedict Cumberbatch, I found his performance impressive. His interpretation of Stephen Strange (a  Marvel Comics deep cut) is part Dr. House, part Tony Stark, and part Hilary Swank from The Next Karate Kid. It’s a zag for Cumberbatch, who’s characters tend to be varying degrees of austere. Dr. Stephen Strange is a celebrated neurosurgeon who loses everything when a car accident causes permanent nerve damage to his hands. He wanders the globe in search of a cure, only to stumble upon a secret order of sorcerer ninjas in Kathmandu who take him in and teach him their ways. He’s thrust into a world of magic, inter-dimensional evil, and Danish bad boys. That last one, of course, refers to Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), zealot follower of a malevolent force hell-bent on forcing the Earth into submission.

Dr. Strange doesn’t subvert superhero tropes by any means, but because the source doctor-strange-benedict-cumberbatch-rachel-mcadams-copertinamaterial is so unknown and the film itself so visually arresting, I sort of didn’t care. We still had an unfailingly loyal girlfriend (Rachel McAdams), a conflicted BFF (Ejiofor), and a reluctant teacher (Swinton). No, what made this movie interesting wasn’t it’s humor or complex characters or it’s new, mystical approach to superheroism, but it’s uncanny timing.

Stephen is given a choice between two opposing, but equally fanatical, factions. One is lead by a woman forced to make difficult, and often morally compromising, decisions that she believes will facilitate the greater good. The other is driven by a radical who, while claiming to be acting in the best interest of the world, actually seeks to acquire eternal life and make the human race as miserable as he is himself. Sound familiar?

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And THAT is what I love about the superhero genre, and why it will never bore me. Because almost without trying, they manage to reflect our own experiences back at us, in a way that encourages and rewards bravery and self-sacrifice in the face of overwhelming tyranny. Also, the muscles.

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I really like the muscles.

Whitney Weldon

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Choice Picks: If You Don’t Like These Movies, We Probably Can’t be Friends

Making friends as an adult can be fraught with drama and disappointment. I can’t count the number of times I’ve gotten excited about a burgeoning friendship, only to find that the person’s favorite show is Criminal Minds or (heaven forbid)  Angel. It’s a struggle to which we can all relate. So to guard myself from forming platonic attachments I’d live to regret, I developed this friendship litmus test. The idea is that I expose this potential pal to the movies that are, essentially, celluloid chunks of my very soul, and if their response is less than enthusiastic, I cut ’em loose. It sounds mean, but I’m really just saving everyone’s time. Let’s dig in.

super-85. Super 8 (2011)

Super 8 is pretty much everything I ever wanted in a movie: 70’s nostalgia, aliens, Kyle Chandler being a dad, 12-year-olds swearing. This movie came out during the same summer that brought us Bridesmaids, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, and X-Men: First Class, and for me, it eclipsed all of them. When I FORCE a friend to watch this movie, I pay close attention to their face during the scene where Joel Courtney sacrifices his dead mother’s locket to help a wayward alien get back home; if they are not weeping without restraint, I don’t see much of a future for us.

4. Wayne’s Worldwaynes-world-2-20090512040018349-000

Approximately 90 percent of everything that comes out of my mouth is a direct quote from this movie. Last Christmas, my mother handed me a gift and my knee-jerk response was “If this is a severed head, I’m going to be very upset”. That is a true story. So I’m not saying that people who don’t like this movie aren’t cool (out loud), but if you don’t know this film inside and out, there will probably be an insurmountable language barrier between us. Alas.

1450660-7_evil_ex_boyfriends_scott_pilgrim_vs_the_world3. Scott Pilgrim V. The World

This is a fairly recent addition to the list. I coerced a friend into watching this only last February and TO MY HORROR this schlemiel fell asleep half way through. When questioned, their response was “it was kind of stupid”. I have never been so personally offended by a critique of another persons work in my life. Too irate for words. Scott Pilgrim is a lot of things, and stupid is not one of them. This is one of the densest scripts ever to be committed to film; the jokes are so smart and packed in so tightly that most of them are missed on the first viewing. Haters can kindly step to the left. Right off a cliff.

2. The OrphanageBest-Movie-Ghosts-Demons-Tomas-The-Orphanage

This movie serves a duel purpose. One, it tells me what kind horror viewer a person is. Do they shriek in my ear? Do they claw at me during the scary parts? Can they conduct themselves with composure befitting a grown-up when the old lady in the goggle glasses pops out of nowhere? Two, is this the kind of person who whines about subtitles? Not that I’m one of those Art-House-Foreign-Film Elitists, but come on. It’s fifth grade level reading. Suck it up.

Unbreakable1. Unbreakable

I caught this movie while channel surfing after school one afternoon and decided, at the tender age of 11, that this was about as good as a movie gets. Its a non-comic based superhero movie about a man (Bruce Willis) who realizes that he can’t be hurt. It’s dark and terse and such a slow burn. If a friend trusts me enough to sit through 45 minutes of character development and backstory to reach this beautiful pay-off, I can see us going the distance. In friendship terms.

Whitney

GIF Reactions to the Marvel Phase 3 Announcements

In case you live under a rock or are maybe just less obsessed with any news coming out of Marvel HQ than I am, you may not have heard about Marvel’s presentation today.  Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige took the stage at Hollywood’s El Capitan Theater and gave us, yeah, some news that we have been expecting for a while, but it still set the nerd world into a tizzy.  So much of a tizzy, that I don’t have words so I’m going to rely on GIFs.

First up,

1adoctor

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Now just officially cast Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange and we’ll be in business.

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Strange will be delving more into the supernatural than the other films from the studio and is yet another more out of left field pick for Marvel. I cannot wait. Just remember that only 3 months ago most of us were saying, “Guardians of the what?”

Speaking of that, they moved up the Guardians 2 release date to May 5, 2017.  Who else can’t wait?

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So.  That’s awesome.

Now, for one of our oldies, but goodies…

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And not only is Thor back, but his devious brother, Loki AKA Tom “Yes Please” Hiddleston.

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They announced that Thor’s story would take a dramatic turn post Ultron, so I’m excited to see what happens with Hemsworth and Co.

Moving on to one of their bigger announcements…

1ablackpanther

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This one has been long speculated by Marvel diehards due to little Easter egg hints throughout the previous films (for example, Captain America’s shield is made of Vibranium, an alloy native to Black Panther’s nation of Wakanda) and it sounds like there are more allusions to come in Ultron.

Also, they later announced that 42′s Chadwick Boseman will be taking on the title role and I don’t think they could have made a better choice. Boseman is a great actor and I am excited to see him in something other than a biopic.

Fans have long been clamoring for more diversity from this cinematic universe, so following Black Panther will be…

1acaptainmarvel

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Who runs the world? My guess will be Carol Danvers. No casting announcement was made but I have faith that she will kick ass.

If nothing else, it is exciting to see such a change-up with the Avengers.  Whether Captain Marvel and Black Panther end up being additions or eventual replacements, they should be fun additions to the team.

1aainhumans

I have just met you i love you

I admittedly don’t know a lot about the Inhumans, but I’m still excited. What I DO know is that they are the test subjects of Kree’s attempts to create a sort of super race, so this will obviously be more in the universe of Guardians, which for me just means epic amounts of awesome. Also, we have some pretty solid proof that Marvel does good “team” movies.

1acivilwar

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I knew this was coming but TWO PARTS!  While many will see this as a gimmick to get more money, I don’t care. Gimme more. Heck, split both of those and make it four movies.

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The “Infinity” subtitle implies that the big bad here will be Thanos and it will be the culmination of the infinity stones story line (so probably an appearance by the Guardians universe, as well).

After trying to fake out the fans with a misleading Cap 3 subtitle, Fiege revealed the real title card.

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In other words Cap Vs. Iron Man.

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We all knew this was coming but it will be pretty awesome to see this discord between Cap and Iron Man. Two words: Ep. IC.

Now the only problem is the waiting.

Difficult life

Ellen