Ex Machina Has Some company
Arrival (2016): A linguist is recruited by the military to assist in translating alien communications.
Wow. Two weeks and two perfect 10s. Hey, remember when this summer sucked for the movie industry? Hard to believe we're in the same year. Arrival is a captivating, engaging science fiction story complete with strong acting, great sound design, wonderful editing, and even a strong score. Helmed by director Denis Villeneuve (director of Sicario and Prisoners) and led by a great performance from Amy Adams, (who had a busy week between this and Noctornal Animals) Arrival left me speechless. I was on the edge of my seat for almost every second of the 116 minute masterpiece, and the big twist at the end was actually believable. I know, big change right? So what made this film so good?
Well, at its forefront is the story. While this story has a major twist towards the end of the film, I found myself not trying to figure out what the twist was because before it came a very believable and grounded film. Very rare do you have such a winning combination of drama, realism, and science fiction. It is far too easy for a movie to lose me early on in it's rationale of how humans respond to something, whether it be artificial intelligence or alien life or whatever the sci-fi film is addressing, but when it doesn't it's almost guranteed to be one of my favorite films of the year. I think one of the big reasons why it felt so realistic is because of the grand scale of the event. You really feel like the entire globe is trying to figure this out and not just Amy Adams in the middle of nowhere, Montana. And the globe respondes the way you would expect the globe to respond. And the countries that go out on a limb are exactly the countries you would expect to go out on a limb. These global tensions play a big role in the third act of this film as well as the twist itself, which as I said, works. It works really really well. I don't want to spoil anything for you, obviously, so I'll just leave it with this: analyzing and understanding the twist is EASILY worth the price of admission alone.
So what else does this film do right? Well I'll first highlight the sound. While it doesn't compete with something like Hacksaw Ridge, I give it as much credit as I do because of how subtle it is. While there is the obvious sound achievement in creating a verbal language not from this planet and doing so convincingly, but there's also a lot of sound cues I enjoyed elsewhere: the muting and highlighting of certain character's voices at points, the choices of alarms, and others. I think the sound team deserves a lot of credit for going above and beyond. I'll also highlight the score, by Johann Johansson, as it was a very not-from-this-world score that fit in perfectly with the rest of the movie. I think Johansson took a few musical cues from John Williams highlighy underrated Close Encounters of the Third Kind score , but that's just me. Finally, the editing here was seamless, as editor Joe Walker did a marvelous job with the extremely tall task that he's asked to do to help explain the twist.
I really can't find any faults with this film. Even as I sit here and analyze the hell out of it, I can't do it. That is a truly marvelous feat for a film to have this intricate a story. I gave Ex Machina a perfect 10 last year too, but even its story is not as good as Arrival. I cannot stress this enough: go see it. Expect to hear it again as I talk about my favorite movies of 2016, because it is definitely going to be a strong contendor for my number one movie of the year.
The Critique: A gripping and engaging sci-fi narrative combined with a strong performance from Amy Adams make this an easy contender for the best movie of 2016.
The Recommendation: A must-watch for everyone, regardless of whether you like sci-fi or not.
The Verdict: 10/10 Perfect
Short and Semi-Sweet
Sully (2016): The story of Chesley Sullenberger, an American pilot who became a hero after landing his damaged plane on the Hudson River in order to save the flight's passengers and crew.
Ahhhhh another classic definition of "it's fine." I still haven't really mastered how to get past the classic "it's fine" trope, but ultimately at the end of the day that's what Sully is: fine. While the event itself is dramatic, and it's shot well, there's still a lot of movie outside of it, and I wasn't particularly engrossed by it. I don't know. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood when I watched this, but I really felt like there was a lot of.....embelishing to attempt to make this story more dramatic than it actually was. That said, it's still an average film, and there's noithing to be disappointed in that.
On one side, you have the main event: the plain crash. The sequence is well shot by director Clint Eastwood, and he does a great job giving us a few passanger backstories to care about as it takes place. But even beyond those few, nearly every passanger on the plane is given a moment to convey their emotions at one point or another, and that really added to the scene. Additionally, all throughout the sequence Eastwood did a GREAT job highlighting the people of New York City: from an air traffic controller who pretty much stole the entire sequence, (played by Patch Darragh-and I'm not kidding....this was probably the best performance of anyone in the film and it came from a guy who's struggling to find work) to helicopter pilots, boat operators, and first responders. Eastwood excelled at highlighting their contributions to "The Miracle on the Hudson."
While Eastwood does revisit this crash sequence several times, the rest of this movie really failed to draw me in, and I think it starts with Tom Hanks. He really didn't seem to give this performance his all, which is very unusual. However when I think about this movie, the first performance that jumps out is Patch Darragh's performance, and that should not be the case. Eckhart easily outperformaed Hanks, and that's certainly not something I ever expected to say. Additionally, the rest of this film is very simple. Eastwood has always been a minimalist in his filmmaking style, but he's always had strong performances from his leads. He simply doesn't get that here, and it brings down the rest of the movie with it. I also have to pick on the length. It comes in at a short 96 minutes, and it definitely could've benefited from another 20 minutes or so. I say that not because I necessarily cared about the film, but rather because there's no epilogue. The movie is at it's climax at minute 93, and it doesn't give you any time for closure. I found myself saying, "that's it?" When the film abruptly ended, and that definitely brought down the overall experience. I'm used to saying that as I play video games, not watch film!
Finally, I have to (again) talk about the women in this film. I know, I'm a broken record, but there are basically two women in this film and they are both pretty much wasted. Laura Linney is given at least a few things to do, but her character can still just be summed up as "the wife." The one that really got me, though, was Anna Gunn. It was heartbreaking to see such a successful actress, who tore the house down in Breaking Bad, delegated to a role with just a few throwaway speaking lines. Her involvement in this film was nothing more than for recognizability, and it really showcases the sexism of Hollywood. Bryan Cranston and Anna Gunn were two of the three most important characters in Breaking Bad, yet while one has gone on to have a hugely successful post-BB career, the other has been delegated to 3 speaking-role positions. And a glance at her IMDB page tells you that she's not got a whole lot going on on the horizon either. Hell, even Aaron Paul, who, as much as I love him, is NOWHERE near as good an actor as Anna Gunn, is getting more work than her. Maybe Gunn should've taken Paul's role in Need for Speed. Probably would've been a better movie with her at the helm. But I digress.
Go see it if you like Clint Eastwood, but otherwise there are definitely better things out there right now to check out.
The Critique: Despite a thrilling and dramatic event it's centered around, Sully fails to impress thanks to a lackluster performance from Tom Hanks and a criminally short run time.
The Recommendation: There are better things to see out there right now.
Rewatchability: Moderately Low
The Verdict: 5/10 Average
Can we get an Oscar nomination for Patch Darragh's role? Please?
By: Peter Kosanovich
Moana (2016): In Ancient Polynesia, when a terrible curse incurred by Maui reaches an impetuous Chieftain's daughter's island, she answers the Ocean's call to seek out the demigod to set things right.
Over the past few years Disney has been releasing hit after hit with no sign of slowing down anytime soon. Coming out of their Renaissance at the turn of the century, Disney hit a lull until the 2009 release of The Princess and the Frog, kicking off what some refer to as the Disney Revival that has featured films such as Frozen, Big Hero 6, and Zootopia.
Moana, directed by Disney veterans Ron Clements and John Musker (The Little Mermaid and The Princess and the Frog), continues with this revival. It also continues the studio’s recent push for diversity and inclusivity throughout their films, mainly The Princess and the Frog, by depicting a Polynesian culture infused with Magic and folklore. The film follows the titular Moana, voiced by the infectious Auli’i Cravalho, as she searches for Maui, a demi-god with the abilities to help her save her village from destruction.
Unlike previous Disney Princess movies, Moana is unique in that there is no romantic plot or sub-plot – it is a straightforward hero’s journey, as expressed by Clements and Musker in numerous interviews. Moana is a princess, the village chief’s daughter, but does not act the role and in fact argues throughout the movie that she is not a princess, or at least Disney’s traditional version of one; there is some wonderful meta-humor directed at the helpless princess with an animal sidekick model that Disney so often utilizes. She has a great sense of wonder and adventure, but has been confined to her island home all her life due to her father and village law that they cannot sail past the reef surrounding the island. “No one goes past the reef!” her father yells at her at one point. Following a brief series of events regarding the well-being of the island, Moana is forced to disobey her father and seek out Maui, voiced by the ever-charming Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. The two must then embark on a journey to save Moana’s island from monsters, demons, and unknown dangers.
But, in true Disney fashion, we cannot forget the music! Moana’s score, co-written by Hamilton’s Lin Manuel-Miranda, evokes a joyful, yet determined, sense of wonder and adventure – this is balanced with traditional, if only occasionally island-stereotypical instrumentation, giving everything a sense of levity. Each song keeps the momentum going, driving the story forward or providing solid exposition, never having a throwaway simply to fill time. The film’s first song, performed by Moana’s father, provides the backdrop for the village’s island life, establishing the culture while discouraging our heroine’s desire to cast off and explore the ocean – everything they need is on the island, why would they leave? Dwayne Johnson’s Maui pulls off some very Hamilton-esque rhymes in the rap-sung “You’re Welcome,” establishing the character as very prideful and attention-seeking. Even “Shiny,” performed by Flight of the Conchords’ Jermaine Clement, serves as both a new obstacle for Maui and Moana as well as strengthening their relationship to overcome the trials ahead. Recurring through the film are variations of the theme for “How Far I’ll Go,” acting as Moana’s anthem (Frozen’s “Let It Go"), allowing Moana to focus herself and find the strength the complete her journey, while also providing that spark for her wanderlust and the effect the ocean has on her through the lyric “It calls me.” It also centers as one of the film’s primary musical motifs, having variations appropriate for the scene or circumstances presented. It would not surprise me in the slightest if Lin Manuel-Miranda received award attention for Best Original Score and/or Best Original Song.
An added gem of the movie is its combination of 3D computer animation and traditional hand-drawn animation. While the majority of the movie is very clearly 3D computer animation, the character of Maui is adorned with numerous Polynesian and Oceanic stylized tattoos, all of which were added through traditional hand-drawn animation. This is made all the more impressive as the tattoos are sentient have the ability to move around Maui’s body and interact with him and the rest of the movie world. It was so refreshing to see Disney return to its roots in hand-drawn animation for the first time since The Princess and the Frog.
Overall this was a wonderful movie! Highly reminiscent of the films released during the Disney Renaissance, while still keeping with modern trends of the current Revival. A much more headstrong “princess” learning to be more independent and self-reliant, while still understanding when to ask for help. Moana shines at every level, from Clements and Musker’s writing, to the fantastic performances from Cravalho and Johnson, to the highly memorable score by Lin Manuel-Miranda.
The Critique: A wonderful movie that breaks the mold of Disney's traditional princess. It explores the power and equality of women, without ever subverting it's male characters in the process. It revels in the leads empathy towards the world, while still providing a rich world to explore and get lost in.
The Recommendation: Yes! To everyone!
Rewatchability: Most definitely! I could watch this regularly.
The Verdict: I’m so bad at giving a number rating, I always find it hard. What I will say though, is that it is better than Frozen. More genuine and less formulaic. Take that as you will, but the movie is so very good. (10/10)
JOSEPH: Well it looks like I'll have to see this now!
Come for a story about peace, stay for the war sequences
Hacksaw Ridge (2016):WWII American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss, who served during the Battle of Okinawa, refuses to kill people, and becomes the first man in American history to win the Medal of Honor without firing a shot.
Wait, Mel Gibson directed this? I'm just as surprised as you are. Well, even though Gibson is not the most sane person on the planet, I've always tried to seperate the man from his work, and when you do that here you find yourself with a pretty darn good film. While there are definitely some problems in the story sequences, and a few of the action sequences go a little overboard, overall this is a great film with several extremely moving sequences. So, let's jump into it shall we?
First off, what does this film get right? Let's talk about the big one: the action sequences. These action sequences are already being compared to Saving Private Ryan, which still serves as the pinnacle for wartime action sequences, and for good reason. These sequences are incredible, and certainly worth the price of admission alone. Gibson uses minimum CGI to make these sequences look as brutal as possible. While there were a few points where Gibson went overboard and made things unnecessarily brutal, (did we really need to see the Japanese Seppuku at the end of the film?) overall the sequences were simply excellent. On top of the thrilling war sequences, you had one of the better performances I've seen so far this year from Andrew Garfield. While this film has a relatively weak supporting cast, this allows Garfield to really shine, as he brings a wide range of emotions to this complicated role. This is easily the best performance of his young career. While 2016 is shaping up to be a strong year for actors, I would not be surprised to see a nomination for Garfield next year.
However, despite the brilliant performance from Andrew Garfield, you have a very lackluster performance from Hugo Weaving to offset it. Easily the weakest part of the film, Weaving's portrayal as the father, Tom Doss, was both poorly written and executed. The British Hugo Weaving's Virginian accent left much to be desired, and the lackluster character arc certainly didn't help. Additionally, Teresa Palmer, who was excellent in Lights Out, was completely wasted in yet another role that can be described as "the wife." This story line was definitely rushed, but I am willing to forgive this since the movie had to move quickly through the backstory to get to the actual war sequences. This movie makes use of every second of its 139 minute runtime, though it cerrtainly felt more like 180 minutes. (which in this case is a good thing)
Ultimately, while I've highlighted more of the negatives than the positives, that's because at the end of the day this is a great film. During the climax of the film, I was very emotionally moved, and then when you add on top of it some phenomenal action sequences and a memorable performance from your lead you certainly have a movie that will be talked about in this year's Oscar season. I would definit4ely recommend checking this one out!
The Critique: Despite some shortcomings, Hacksaw Ridge is a great film thanks to some of the most brutal war sequences ever seen on film, as well as a great performance from its lead.
The Recommendation: If you like WWII films, it's a must-see. If you like Andrew Garfield, it's a must-see. If you're not a fan of either, this film might be able to change your mind.
The Verdict: 8/10 Great
Image Credit: http://static.srcdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/hacksaw-ridge-2016-andrew-garfield.jpg
Quiet but powerful
Moonlight (2016): A timeless story of human connection and self-discovery, Moonlight chronicles the life of a young black man from childhood to adulthood as he struggles to find his place in the world while growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami.
Wow. So I had absurdly high expectations for this movie. It came out a few weeks ago and even before it did there was a lot of buzz about this film being one of the best of the year. So basically in order for this film to meet my expectations, it had to be perfect. Well......it met my expectations. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you my first 10 of 2016.
Moonlight is a perfect film. It tells the harrowing and heartbreaking story of Chiron, a gay black man growing up in drug-ridden 1980s Miami. This story is split between 3 time periods, which include Chiron as a young child, (where he goes by Little) Chiron as a teenager, and Chiron as a grown man. (Where he goes by Black) Each period features a different actor playing Chiron, which is a challenging task in and of itself, but is handled beautifully by Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and former athlete Trevante Rhodes. I was particularly moved by child-actor Alex Hibbert, who did an incredible job conveying a wide array of emotions without saying anything. Rhodes did this well too. In addition to these three actors, you had some of the best supporting performances of the year from Mahershala Ali, Janelle Monae, and the massively underappreciated Naomie Harris. Chiron's closest friend, Kevin, is also played by three different actors, Jaden Piner, Jharrel Jerome, and Andre Holland. In short, Moonlight featured some of the best acting you'll see this year, and that wasn't even the best part of this film.
The best part of this film was undoubtedly the cinematography. The film opens with a beautiful long take with several handoffs throughout the three-ish minute cut. But that's just the beginning. Director Barry Jenkins and cinematographer James Laxton masterfully display various degrees of emotion and story telling through the lens of the camera, featuring brutal close ups and simple tracking shots. While there are a few more long takes scattered throughout the film, most of the cinematography is so powerful in how simple it is. The ending of this film, which is easily the best ending of any filim this year, is as effective as it is in how it is shot. It is simple and quiet, yet it emotionally wrecks you with one simple wideshot. I found myself sitting in my chair still processing the film well after the credits started rolling, and you most certainly will as well. It may not win an Oscar because it doesn't do anything particularly noteworthy, but this is easily some of the best cinematography I have ever seen, and I hope one day I can write an essay about it.
On top of masterful cinematography and acting, the story is also told exceptionally well. Kudos to Jenkins (who also wrote this film, which is based off a play called In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue by Tarell McCraney) for writing a quiet and powerful 111 minute film. I also must highlight the the score. I sincerely hope that this score is nominated for an Oscar, because it is easily my favorite score of the year. If you can't tell yet the overall theme of this film is that it is powerfully simple, and this theme extends to the score as well. I also believe that this score is based off one of my favorite covers of all-time, the Scala & Kolacny Brothers cover of Radiohead's Creep.
It takes a lot for me to say a film is perfect, but Moonlight is the very definition of a perfection. Its elegance lies in its simplicity, despite the extraordinary difficulty that comes with having three different time periods in one film. I cannot recommend this film enough: sure, it's a deep watch, and sure it will wreck you emotionally, but it's worth it. There are easy nominations for cinematography, directing, score, (hopefully) and picture in this film's future, so at the very least you should watch it to see why it's nominated for so many Oscars. It's certainly going to be tough to top this one.
The Critique: Utter perfection, Moonlight delivers a deeply moving and powerful story through a simple and elegant movie-telling style. Hands down the best film of the year so far.
The Recommendation: Easy: a must-see.
The Verdict: 10/10 Perfect.
Oscar Talk: As I said previously, this film is all but assured nominations in the directing, cinematography, and picture categories at the Oscars this year. Heck I think there's a pretty darn good chance this film wins Best Picture. Also, here's to hoping this film is nominated for Best Score too!
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016): The adventures of writer Newt Scamander in New York's secret community of witches and wizards seventy years before Harry Potter reads his book in school.
I. Love. This. Movie. I've honestly been getting a little tired this year with big budget films. Almost all of them have been lackluster at best and straight-up awful at worst. However, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is the revitalizing reminder I so desperately needed that big budget movies do still have the capability to be great. Well done, guys. Let's dive in!
So, first off, what does the movie do right? Besides a lot. First off, the film had a lot to live up to going back into the Harry Potter universe. There's no doubt J.K. Rowling has struggled to recapture the magic of the main saga of Harry Potter since The Deathly Hallows was released back in 2007. But she has certainly found it with Fantastic Beasts. This story feels like it belongs in the Harry Potter universe, despite actually taking place in America. (And not without controversy surrounding this decision) The dialogue feels like Harry Potter, the creatures feel like Harry Potter, the settings feel like Harry Potter, the imagination feels like Harry Potter. Right from the opening moments of the film, where we are greated with a wonderfully edited magical newspaper montage, (complete with the trademarked "alive" pictures) I felt like I was watching a Harry Potter movie. This rigorous and painstaking attention to detail throughout the 133 minute film played a big role in allowing me to get sucked in and carried away.
In addition to wonderful set design and great writing from J.K. Rowling herself, you had some of the best acting I've seen yet in a film this year. Eddie Redmayne, one of (if not the) best actors in Hollywood right now, continues his hot streak with another fantastic performance as Mr. Scamander. No doubt this new franchise has its poster child, and this was blaringly obvious from the onset of this film. He was fun, charming, mysterious, and quirky, delivering a performance that you may very well see again in my Third Annual Awesome Actor Awards. Redmayne also had a strong supporting cast around him, featuring great and equally memorable performances from Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, (where did this performance come from???? This is the guy who stared in the terrible Balls of Fury back in 2007) and Alison Sudol. I really appreciated that outside of Redmayne this core supporting cast was composed of relative unknowns, as there's no doubt in my mind that every one of them will be overnight superstars because of this film.
Finally, you had fantastic visual effects. David Yates directed every Harry Potter movie starting with Order of the Pheonix, but I kind of got the feeling watching this that only now has CGI technology caught up with what he wanted the Harry Potter universe to look like back in the 2000's. It was already hard enough going back to watch the special effects of Philospher's Stone (released in 2001) and it will only get harder with the release of Fantastic Beasts. But there's no doubt the special effects, likely the front-runners for the Academy Awards this year, helped build the Harry Potter universe and add to the magic that is Fantastic Beasts.
That said, this film is not perfect. Sadly Fantastic Beasts suffers from the same problems that many modern-day superhero movies do: it has a lackluster and forgettable villain. In fact, the main storyline involving the villain is nothing more than just a placeholder, and it leads to a laughably unsatisfactory ending that sets up future films. There is one very recognizable actor (or actress, to keep you in suspense) that shows up right at the end and delivers exactly two lines, and it signified to me a distributor-mandated requirement to "get people excited for the sequel." As if anything with the Harry Potter name on it isn't going to make a billion dollars. It was sadly a major opportunity wasted at the hands (in all likelihood) of Warner Brothers. Fortunately though this really didn't take away from the overall film too much because I think this film was more about world building and finding these mystical beasts than it was about having a strong villain. However, if the villain does turn out to be great and have a major role in future installments, it may be hard to watch this film in the future and not feel like it's doing nothing more than sequel-baiting.
Oh! I forgot to mention cinematography. The cinematography was fantastic all throughout this film, delivering the same sweeping shots fans came to know and love from Yates's previous Harry Potter installments.....with one major exception. The final sequence was a little hard to follow. There was simply too much going on, and the editing was too harsh and the cinematography too chaotic for me to know where everything was in correlation to everything else, and it left me rather discombobulated. But this is a relatively small complaint in an overall great film.
Ultimately, Fantastic Beasts is a STRONG addition to the Harry Potter franchise. It does a great job establishing the world and lore of Harry Potter, and future installments will definitely be better because of it. I went into this movie skeptical, but you don't have to. Set those expectations high, wizards. Fantastic Beasts will certainly meet them. Now will someone PLEASE take me to Harry Potter world?
The Critique: Fantastic Beasts finally recaptures the magic J.K. Rowling has been searching for since she concluded her original saga and reboots the Harry Potter franchise in a big way with one of the better films of the year so far.
The Recommendation: It will live up to your expectations. See it day one with confidence.
The Verdict: 8/10 Great.
Doctor Strange (2016): A former neurosurgeon embarks on a journey of healing only to be drawn into the world of the mystic arts.
This is a fun movie. Doctor Strange introduces a new and creative element into the Marvel universe that I never thought would work way back in the early days of Phase 1 in magic. Somehow, it does work. While once again there's very little mention of the rest of the universe, this time around it kind of makes sense because of the inclusion of multiverses and the ability to alter time. At least in Doctor Strange's world they can effectively explain how they can level a major city and yet have no one from the rest of this universe notice. That said, this film is far from perfect. However if you're just looking to turn the brain off and have a fun time at a movie, you will be more than satisfied with Doctor Strange.
So, let's talk about what the film gets right. First off, it is damn good to see Benedict Cumberbatch in this universe now. He is great, as usual, as the lead, and the MCU is better off now that he's involved. The supporting cast is strong too. There's some well-deserved criticism surrounding the casting of Tilda Swinton, but Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, and Mads Mikkelsen are all strong in the supporting cast. (Though Mikkelsen is not a super memorable villain sadly) Rachel McAdams is in this too, but once again she fills a role that can be simply described as "the love interest." Deep sigh.
So, in my mind, there are two reasons why Marvel films are more fun to watch than DC films, and both of these reasons are massively amplified in this film. One is the humor. There are great one-liners and humorous asides all throughout the film, and it keeps the overall vibe of Doctor Strange lighthearted and fun. While it's not on the level as something like Guardians of the Galaxy, it also doesn't have to be. The humor is just meant to be a quick break from the overal plot and it allows the viewers to take a quick (and needed) breath before jumping back into this otherwise pretty heavy-handed Marvel film. The other major reason is the color palette. Marvel has long since had a vastly better color palette than DC, (it helps that Zack Snyder isn't involved with these films) but the color palette is amplified significantly in Doctor Strange, and as a result the movie looks absolutely gorgeous. Yes CGI also had a lot to do with the look of the film, but I would also argue that it still wouldn't look anywhere near as good without the diverse color palette. I mean, look at the picture I chose for this review! Do you think that was an accidental choice? Yes, there's good CGI there, but the colors are certainly what sells that shot. No way would DC be able to....conjure a film like this. (Ah? See what I did there?)
That said, this film is not perfect. There are a lot of corners cut in this film to get from point A to point B. Yes I know most Marvel films cut corners, but it was very tough for me to come to terms with just how quickly Doctor Strange comes to understand magic. He goes from a complete novice to master of the arts in just a few short scenes and in what looked like about 30 minutes of time in the film. It was a little ridiculous, but not enough to diminish the fun. The villain was also pretty weak. Mads Mikkelsen did the best he could, but the primary reason this villain was so underwhelming is due to very lackluster writing. His motivations made very little sense, and sadly he wasn't much more than bad simply because he needed to be bad. This is an overarching problem for many of the Marvel films, and it certainly continues here.
However, at the end of the day, Doctor Strange gets the job done. It is a fun time, even if it is an admittidly shallow experience. But thanks to some good acting and solid directing from Scott Derrickson (The Day the Earth Stood Still, Sinister, Deliver Us from Evil) this film ultimately falls square into the "good" category. It's a fun watch, but not much more than that.
The Critique: A solid performance from Benedict Cumberbatch as a unique new hero makes Doctor Strange a fun time, despite its shortcomings.
The Recommendation: It's a Marvel movie. Who isn't going to see this?
Rewatchability: Moderately High
The Verdict: 7/10 Good
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