MacPsych at the Movies: Doctor Strange

I’ll fully admit that I went to see this film out of a sense of obligation. I’m a massive Marvel Comics fan and have enjoyed nearly all of the movie adaptations they’ve made in the past few years. But I was worried about Doctor Strange, as it represents such a change in tone from it predecessors.

Let’s recap. Whereas Captain America is a war hero, Stephen Strange is an arrogant and selfish neurosurgeon. Whereas Captain American makes the ultimate sacrifice (spoilers?), Stephen Strange turns away needy patients if he doesn’t think he’ll attain a successful outcome – and get the glory that follows.

So he’s not instantly likeable.

And whereas Tony Stark is also arrogant, he lives the millionaire playboy lifestyle and uses incredible technology to battle his enemies. Stephen Strange is cerebral, intelligent, a professional, doesn’t use gadgets and actually wears a cloak. Yes, a cloak.

However…

This step into the world of magic and the mystic arts is handled so well, it really feels like a continuation of the Marvel Universe story – we’re just seeing another chapter unfolding. Yes, he’s a pretty awful person, but as always in these situations, he experiences a disaster, comes out the other side and is a (slightly) better person for it.

I’m not a Harry Potter fan nor do I enjoy fantasy stories. That said, this film had me hooked from the outset. I was very familiar with the Doctor Strange story from the comics, so I was keen to see how they’d adapt it for the screen and a 2016 audience.

In short, very successfully. Benedict Cumberbatch was BORN to play Strange, just as Robert Downey Jr was born to play Tony Stark / Iron Man. The resemblance is uncanny. And while there are some interesting changes to the profiles of other characters (e.g. “The Ancient One”, now played by Tilda Swinton) the characters work.

2726440-tumblr_me900x9mav1qiknbco1_1280

There’s an excellent mix of exposition and back-story, combined with humour, action and some resolution. It’s basically the origin of Doctor Strange, but immediately makes him part of the shared Marvel Universe that also contains Captain America, Thor and the Hulk. It does this really skilfully and no prior knowledge of the Doctor Strange mythos is required.

(Also, you have to stay for two excellent post-credits scenes that set up future films. Honestly, if you’re a Marvel fan, you’ll love them.)

I can really recommend this to any fans of fun, action and adventure. You need not be a comics fan or a fan of magic (I’m not, I’m really not!). In fact, there were moments in “Doctor Strange” where I was transported back to my first screening of “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. It’s that fun and that full of adventure.  And the special effects are very impressive – and quite psychedelic!

I can’t wait to see more of Doctor Strange in future Marvel movies.

And if you’re interested in learning more about the character, check out this wikipedia page or some recent comics. And now, a bonus recent comic appearance of Tony Stark and Doctor Strange – I love how disdainful Strange is of everything Stark represents.

810136bea4ecc21ac1f0a8bc65bf31d3

Coming soon: The Siege at Jadotville

This looks excellent! A new film about the Irish UN force who served in the (then) Congo during the 1960s. It’s a true story about how a tiny Irish force took on a massive attack from mercenaries and local rebels.

From the Irish Times review:

“Few will sit through Richie Smyth’s stirring action film without thinking of Zulu. The 1961 siege at Jadotville in The Congo, during which an Irish battalion resisted repeated attacks from Katangese secessionists, bears comparison with that heroic defence of Rorke’s Drift. The contexts are, however, very different. Adapted from a book by Declan Power, Kevin Brodpin’s script works hard at explaining how a UN force ended up entangled in one of the era’s messier post-colonial disputes.”

I’ll definitely add it to my Netflix queue, but agree that this is the kind of thing that needs to be seen on the big screen. Hopefully somewhere near me will be showing it.

For those interested in the history that lead to Irish soldiers fighting in the heart of Africa in the 1960s, here’s the Wikipedia entry. Veterans of the siege were only this month formally recognised by the Irish Government.

Old man nap time

photo-1466618786657-4df462be674e

Just call me “Nappy McNapFace”.

After my run this morning – after which I felt I could take on the world! – I took a much-needed shower and made myself some lunch. I updated the blog, wasted some time on twitter and booked a cinema ticket.

I then had some comics to read, so curled up on the couch with my iPad and started to catch up on everything in the world of Civil War II. Cut to two hours later and I wake up from a very, very deep sleep, feeling like someone has removed part of my brain. My iPad was thankfully still resting on my chest, but I’d fallen asleep literally three pages into a comic.

Pathetic.

I guess last night’s rubbish sleep – a combination of my standard insomnia and high temperatures here in London – followed by a 15km run around London, was enough to convince my body to take a nap. A shame it was in such a weird position, with my face embedded in a cushion.

I had such a lovely case of “nap face” when I woke up, with some epic creases (more than usual) across my forehead.

It took a while to wake up properly, and by the time I’d kicked my brain into gear, I almost missed the start the film I’d booked. As I’d seen everything else that was showing, I ended up going to see “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” and, while it’s not going to win any Oscars, was pretty funny. In parts. Just what my brain needed to relax. Plus lots of Zac Efron without his shirt on, which was all central to the complex central narrative of the film.

Really.

Now I’m left with the challenge of sleeping tonight. It’s never a good idea for me to take a nap in the afternoon. Aside from waking up like I’ve been in a car crash, it makes it harder to sleep at night. Much harder.

I think I’ll deal with that by staying up late watching “Mr. Robot” and contemplating my own mortality.

Seriously, I must be getting old!

This has me so excited

The new trailer for Rogue One dropped the other day and I’ve watched it over and over since. Such a geek, such a Star Wars fan.

The trailer is so well cut – it’s tantalising and dramatic. Fleeting shots of characters and scenes you just want to know more about. It’s already being examined for clues about the wider story.

I go to the cinema a lot and some of the trailers just tell you the entire story. I always thought trailers were suppose to tease, to make you so excited about the film that you couldn’t wait to get out and see it. The creative team behind this know exactly what they’re doing here!

From Lucasfilm comes the first of the Star Wars standalone films, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” an all-new epic adventure. In a time of conflict, a group of unlikely heroes band together on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star, the Empire’s ultimate weapon of destruction. This key event in the Star Wars timeline brings together ordinary people who choose to do extraordinary things, and in doing so, become part of something greater than themselves. In theaters December 2016.

Roll on December and another series of trips to see a Star Wars film again and again!

A spoiler-free Captain America: Civil War review

Want the shortest version of this? Captain America: Civil War is excellent for fans of comics, super heroes and action films.

However, if you don’t know what S.H.I.E.L.D. is or how it’s different from Captain America’s shield, you may find it hard to keep up with this one. Indeed, if you can’t accept that it’s perfectly reasonable for two World War II soldiers to have experienced different forms of suspended animation and still be able to smash down doors and leap through walls, then maybe you should give it a miss.

But I hope you don’t as it’s tremendous fun. Continue reading “A spoiler-free Captain America: Civil War review”

Spectre? Meh.

I love a good James Bond movie. I’ve seem them all, multiple times. I’m a tad obsessed, actually. I’ve been known to have heated arguments about the merits of the various Bonds, their weapons and gadgets and even the soundtracks. So I was really looking forward to finally seeing Spectre this weekend.

It was… just okay. It was brilliant in parts, slightly okay for the most part. Not all that memorable and some quite creaky performances. You could almost tell Daniel Craig has had enough.

Some great references to the older films (no spoilers, I promise – but you’ll see them if you keep your eyes open), a wrapping-up of the Daniel Craig Bond “story” so far, combined with a very ambiguous ending, mean I think it might be a while before we next see Bond on the big screen. And it’ll almost certainly be a different actor in the lead role.

It was definitely better than Quantum of Solace, but not a patch on Skyfall or Casino Royale. Not a terrible movie, but not a great one either. Which is a shame.

(I just hope I don’t leave the next Star Wars instalment with the same sense of ‘meh’).

Probably the worst part of the entire experience this evening was the Sam Smith theme tune. It puts new meaning into the word ‘dirge’. I don’t get why he’s so popular. His falsetto screeching is painful and the song itself was obviously written over a single cup of tea.

Really letting the side down when it comes to Bond theme tunes. Even Madonna’s effort sounds good by comparison.

Bottom line: if you’re a Bond fanatic, go and see this in the cinema. Brace yourself for some mild disappointment. If you don’t know your Q from your M, wait until it’s out on DVD.

Oh. And if you were the Chinese gentleman sitting across the aisle from me, shouting into your mobile phone and rustling at least a half-dozen plastic bags during tonight’s film: I hope your genitals get ripped from your body in a very nasty industrial accident.

Thoughts on the new Fantastic Four trailer

After two distinctly average attempts to put the Fantastic Four on the big screen, they’re back for one more try. And this trailer indicates they’re not going for the shiny shiny happy tone of the last couple – it has a pretty dark tone to it.

Hard to tell at this point – with such little to go on – what this will turn out like. (Though I’m sure that hasn’t stopped millions of geeks worldwide stating their considered opinion on the film mere seconds after watching the teaser trailer).

While the original story had Reed Richards and chums fly themselves into space, this looks more like they get caught in some kind of scientific experiment gone wrong. Either way, we get to see a little bit of Johnny Storm’s ‘Flame On!’ routine and what looks like Ben Grimm appearing from a pile of rubble as ‘The Thing’.

I’ll definitely give it a go, though I wasn’t a massive fan of the two previous iterations. I really enjoy seeing what the studios do with these long standing characters and how they introduce them to geeks and non-fans alike.

But in the Marvel heroes films league, I still think the Avengers films are beating the pants off the X-Men, Spider-Man and Fantastic Four franchises to date. I want to see them making more, quality comics-based films, not simply take a long-established franchise, rip out the ‘difficult bits’ and throw it up on the screen to maximise viewing figures and merchandise sales.

I think Marvel Studios did a great job introducing the Marvel Universe by tying together the Iron Man, Thor and Avengers films so far. Not to mention Captain America. It’s just a shame that legal wrangling prevents the studios from bringing all these characters under one umbrella – they’ve already demonstrated that moviegoers like the notion of a joined-up fictional ‘universe’.

Why not make it more inclusive?

Regardless of what happens to the Richards family after this film, Marvel has plenty lined up to keep us busy for the next few years.

Which makes this particular geek extremely happy indeed.

Review: Taken 3

Now. Let’s get this out of the way quickly.

If you have any thoughts about going to see this turkey, let me put you out of your misery: don’t bother. It’s easily the worst film I’ve seen in the last 12 months (and I’ve seen the Mrs. Brown’s Boys debacle!).

I didn’t go to see Taken 3 expecting to see epic cinema or deep story-telling or complex character exposition. What I did expect was some popcorn action stuff, with Liam Neeson running around beating up the bad guys. And using his gruff voice to sound threatening, while surviving explosions and gun fire that Bruce Willis could only dream of.

It. Was. Just. Awful.

Shockingly clunky dialogue, plot holes as big as Uranus (see what I did there?) and the least convincing set of bad guys since…. I don’t know when. Spoilers below, if you can be bothered to continue reading.

Once again, Neeson’s (truly unlucky) character is chasing down bad guys, but this time – and here’s where it gets complicated – he’s also being chased by the police. Because they think he killed his wife.

Sound familiar?

What unfolded was a collection of badly edited fight scenes and truly unbelievable escapes. I realised I can believe it when people survive flying through a black hole, but I can’t believe it when Liam Neeson evades SO MANY BULLETS, ALL THE TIME.

I cannot express to you how many bullets are fired in this film, how many of them directly at Neeson and how many (actually all of them) he jumps past.

In its favour, it featured Famke Janssen, who was the only vaguely likeable character in the whole thing. And (spoilers!) she’s not in it for the whole thing. Bet she doesn’t regret that Jean Grey role now, eh?

Forrest Whitaker plays the cop on Neeson’s tail throughout, who also somehow manages to lose him at every turn. Possibly because he spends a good portion of the film in a) a helicopter or b) his office. Alternatively, it’s because his police force is one of the most inept in the entire history of cinema. You can tell Whittaker trying desperately to make him into a complex character, but he just comes across as a wise-ass. With an inappropriate smile.

And despite the hellish violence, death, destruction and mayhem… he shakes Neeson’s hand at the end and lets him just walk away?

I watched it to the end, hoping for some resolution or other. But it merely set it up for a sure-to-be-made Taken 4.

I’m out. Goodnight.