Monthly Archives: January 2017

Movie Review: Doctor Strange

strange

Benedict Cumberbatch brings Doctor Strange to the big screen with his superpowers and fire magic.

I’ll admit I had my review of Doctor Strange started back when I saw it in November: Election Day to be exact. The reason for its late publish has a lot to do with my lack of ambition. Paying attention to my hit statistics and seeing how 2016 gave me my lowest annual hit stats since 2011 kept me from publishing. However the recent upswing of hits in January rejuvenated my blogging energy and I can finally publish my review!

Dr. Strange is not a new Marvel superhero. He first appeared in a 1963 addition of Strange Tales created to bring a different type of character and themes of mysticism to comics. It wasn’t completely welcome during its early years as some people thought those at Marvel comics must be on some kind of drugs. Dr. Strange would continue to have his own comic series for decades until the early 2000’s. Then he was placed as a supporting character in comic books of The Amazing Spider-Man and The Avengers. Dr. Strange has been able to reclaim his own at the start of this decade.

Marvel faced a huge task in bringing a superhero most people are unfamiliar with and making them a household name. They’ve done it before, with The Guardians Of The Galaxy being the most recent example. However it’s still a case of hit-and-miss as last year Ant-Man didn’t get the success most were hoping for. 2016 has been a good but complex year for the Marvel studios. Their latest X-Men movie didn’t go off so well. Captain America: Civil War was a hit but it didn’t have the same muscle as past Captain America movies. Deadpool was a big hit, especially as an R-rated movie about an anti-hero, but Marvel still wants to excel in creating superheroes, especially in a family-friendly format.

Now in order to make Doctor Strange come alive on the big screen, Marvel had to create the right story. This is the first Doctor Strange movie so the origin is a definite must. Also a must is Stephen Strange’s personality as the surgeon who lives for the fame but is given a reality check after the car accident and subsequent adoption of a superhero persona. In addition, morals are necessary for superhero movies. It’s like my brother-in-law said today’s people are tired out with life. People want entertainment that gives us heroes to look up. I agree. Despite the onslaught of Deadpool, Suicide Squad and Sausage Party, people welcome heroes and are comfortable with seeing morals redeemed. It’s not like the 90’s where we all has an insatiable appetite for entertainment that was ruthless, obnoxious and appeared to be an artistic middle-finger.

However there were two major things needed to make Doctor Strange take off. The first was Benedict Cumberbatch had to make the character of Doctor Strange work. Cumberbatch had to be able to portray Doctor Strange’s pre-accident arrogance well and to make his change in personality transfer successfully. Cumberbatch was very good in portraying the character. The other major thing needed most for this movie is top-of-the-line visual effects. Already Doctor Strange’s unique superpowers mostly involve the use of pyrotechnics. They had to look like the magic they are. The shifts from one world to the next would also require top-of-the-line visual effects. If you saw the movie yourself, I’m sure you would also be dazzled by the effects of the film from the pyrotechnics to the various worlds to the freezing of time.

Although Cumberbatch’s acting and the visual effects were the highlights of the movie, it had a lot of other ingredients responsible for its success. Scott Derrickson did a very good job of directing. Derrickson has developed a reputation with directing and writing sci-fi movies in the past and he was the right man for the job here. The script he co-wrote with Jon Spaihts and C. Robert Cargill also had to be very good because this was one superhero movie that was not too heavy on the action and placed more emphasis on the story, putting the thriller emphasis more on the slow intensity of the moment. It even included some humor which Marvel likes to include in the first movie of one of their superheroes. They succeeded in accomplishing that. The supporting acting performances like Chiwetel Ejiofor as the mentoring Karl Mordo, Benedict Wong as a non-stereotypical Asian martial arts master, Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One also mentoring Strange, and Rachel McAdams as Christine Palmer, the woman who gives Stephen Strange his reality check, also added to the strength to the story. The music from Michael Giacchino also fit the film and its various moments well.

Doctor Strange was released at the right time. It was released in November when movie crowds are starting to grow again right after the end of the summer season. Usually November is the biggest movie month outside the summer. People are used to settling back to their routines and they can now go out for enjoyment. Dr. Strange won its opening weekend with a draw of $88 million and remained on top for another week despite challenges from Trolls and Arrival. Even after facing rivalry from the following weeks with new releases like Fantastic Beasts and Moana, Doctor Strange did strong spending seven weeks in the box office Top 10 and grossing $231.6 million in North America and almost $665 million worldwide. As the Oscar nominations have approached, its visual effects were nominated. If you remember the effects, you too would think they were some of the best of the year.

As for a possible Doctor Strange sequel, Derrickson talked of a sequel even a month before its release. He mentioned he had fun with the character. The success of it is the perfect green light for a future sequel.

Doctor Strange is the biggest debut movie for a superhero since the Guardians Of The Galaxy. In a year that was a bit of a struggle for Marvel, it delivered in entertainment and thrills.

My Predictions For The 2016 Academy Award Nominees

Chocolate Oscar

I know I haven’t been blogging as much as I normally have. You may have noticed I didn’t post predictions for the Golden Globes this year. Heck, I’ve even delayed publishing my review of Doctor Strange! It’s not just about my busy schedule but my lack of hits to my blog in 2016: the least since 2011. However since I’ve been getting more hits to my blog this January, it gives me the energy to publish my next blog.

Of course I wouldn’t miss out on predicting the Oscar nominations. I have been paying attention to the race and seen some of the heavily favored films. The race looks exciting and it’s hard to tell who will win. La La Land looks like the best bet but there have been surprises before, like Spotlight trouncing The Revenant last year. And speaking of last year, I believe the #OscarsSoWhite row has paid off as the Academy has seen a lot of diversity in this year’s new inductees, which I will reflect on in a blog in a week or two, and there appears to be four or five non-white actors heavily favored to be nominated. Cheryl Boone Isaacs even said she’ll have the Academy lead by example.

Anyways without further ado, I have my predictions. To start off, here are my predictions for the nominations on Tuesday:

BEST PICTURE

  • Arrival
  • Fences
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • Hell Or High Water
  • Hidden Figures
  • La La Land
  • Lion
  • Manchester By The Sea
  • Moonlight
  • Sully

BEST DIRECTOR

  • Damien Chazelle, La La Land
  • Garth Davis, Lion
  • Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
  • Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester By The Sea
  • Denis Villeneuve, Arrival

BEST ACTOR

  • Casey Affleck, Manchester By The Sea
  • Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
  • Ryan Gosling, La La Land
  • Viggo Mortenson, Captain Fantastic
  • Denzel Washington, Fences

BEST ACTRESS

  • Amy Adams, Arrival
  •  Emily Blunt, The Girl On The Train
  • Natalie Portman, Jackie
  • Emma Stone, La La Land
  • Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

  • Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
  • Jeff Bridges, Hell Or High Water
  • Hugh Grant, Florence Foster Jenkins
  • Lucas Hedges, Manchester By The Sea
  • Dev Patel, Lion

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

  • Viola Davis, Fences
  • Naomie Harris, Moonlight
  • Nicole Kidman, Lion
  •  Janelle Monae, Hidden Figures
  • Michelle Williams, Manchester By The Sea

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

  • Damien Chazelle, La La Land
  • Yorgos Lanthimos and Efyhimis Filipou, The Lobster
  • Paul Laverty, I, Daniel Blake
  • Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester By The Sea
  • Jeff Nichols, Loving

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

  • Luke Davies, Lion
  • Tom Ford, Nocturnal Animals
  • Barry Jenkins And Terell Alvin McCraney, Moonlight
  • Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi, Hidden Figures
  • August Wilson, Fences

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

  • Finding Dory
  • Kubo And The Two Strings
  • Moana
  • The Red Turtle
  • Zootopia

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

  • Greg Fraser, Lion
  • James Laxton, Moonlight
  • Rodrigo Prieto, Silence
  • Linus Sandgren, La La Land
  • Bradford Young, Arrival

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

  • Colleen Atwood, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them
  • Consolata Boyle, Florence Foster Jenkins
  • Madeline Fontaine, Jackie
  • Mary Zophres, Hail Caesar!
  • Mary Zophres, La La Land

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

  • The Eagle Huntress
  • Life, Animated
  • OJ: Made In America
  • Tower
  • Weiner

BEST FILM EDITING

  • Julian Clarke, Deadpool
  • Tom Cross, La La Land
  • John Gilbert, Hacksaw Ridge
  • Jennifer Lame, Manchester By The Sea
  • Nat Sanders and Joi McMillon, Moonlight

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

  • It’s Only The End Of The World (Canada)
  • A Man Called Ove (Sweden)
  • The Salesman (Iran)
  • Tanna (Australia)
  • Toni Erdmann (Germany)

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

  • Nicholas Britwell, Moonlight
  • Justin Hurwitz, La La Land
  • Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka, Lion
  • John Williams, The BFG
  • Hans Zimmer, Pharrel Williams and Benjamin Walfisch, Hidden Figures

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

  • ‘Can’t Stop The Feeling’, Trolls
  • ‘City Of Stars’, La La Land
  • ‘Faith’, Sing
  • ‘Heathens’, Suicide Squad
  • ‘How Far I’ll Go’, Moana

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

  • Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them
  • Hail Caesar!
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • La La Land
  • Rogue One

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

  • Arrival
  • Captain America: Civil War
  • Doctor Strange
  • The Jungle Book
  • Rogue One

Those are my predictions for nominations. I also include predictions for possible upsetters for my main predictions. They could upset some of my favorites and get nominated instead. Without further ado, here is my list for the most likely upsetters:

BEST PICTURE

  • Loving
  • Deadpool
  • Elle

BEST DIRECTOR

  • Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge
  • Denzel Washington, Fences

BEST ACTOR

  • Tom Hanks, Sully
  • Joel Edgerton, Loving

BEST ACTRESS

  • Isabelle Huppert, Elle
  • Ruth Negga, Loving

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

  • Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Nocturnal Animals
  • Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

  • Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
  • Greta Gerwig, 20th Century Women

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

  • Taylor Sheridan, Hell Or High Water

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

  • Eric Heisserer, Arrival
  • Jay Cocks and Martin Scorsese, Silence

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

  • My Life As a Zucchini
  • Miss Hokusai

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

  • Seamus McGarvey, Nocturnal Animals

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

  • Marion Boyce and Margot Wilson, The Dressmaker
  • Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh, Love & Friendship

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

  • 13th

BEST FILM EDITING

  • Joe Walker, Arrival
  • Jake Roberts, Hell Or High Water

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

  • Abel Korzeniowski, Nocturnal Animals

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

  •  ‘Try Everything’, Zootopia
  •  ‘Just Like Fire’, Alice Through Looking Glass

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

  • Arrival
  • Jackie

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS:

  • Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them

So did my predictions come true? Which of my upsetter predictions caused the biggest shocker? Or which nominations from left-field happened? We’ll find out Tuesdayj morning.