REVIEW: DOCTOR STRANGE (2016)

 

CAST

Benedict Cumberbatch (Star Trek Into Darkness)
Chiwetel Ejiofor (Serenity)
Rachel McAdams (Sherlock Holmes)
Benedict Wong (The Martian)
Michael Stuhlbarg (Men In Black 3)
Benjamin Bratt (Traffic)
Scott Adkins (Zero Dark Thirty)
Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal)
Tilda Swinton (Burn After Reading)
Chris Hemsworth (The Huntsman: Winter’s War)
Stan Lee (Chuck)
Amy Landecker (Dan In Real Life)

In Kathmandu, Nepal, the sorcerer Kaecilius and his zealots enter the secret compound Kamar-Taj and behead its librarian. From the ancient and mystical texts, they steal a ritual from a book belonging to the Ancient One, a sorcerer who has lived for an unknown time and taught all at Kamar-Taj, including Kaecilius, in the ways of the mystic arts. The Ancient One pursues the traitors, but Kaecilius escapes with the pages and some of his followers.In New York City, Stephen Strange, an acclaimed but arrogant neurosurgeon, loses the use of his hands in a car accident. Fellow surgeon and former lover Christine Palmer tries to help him move on, but Strange, firmly believing he can regain use of his hands, instead uses all his resources pursuing experimental surgeries in vain. After learning of Jonathan Pangborn, a paraplegic who mysteriously was able to walk again, Strange seeks him out, and is directed to Kamar-Taj. There, Strange is taken in by another sorcerer under the Ancient One, Mordo. The Ancient One shows Strange her power, revealing the astral plane and other dimensions such as the Mirror Dimension. Amazed, Strange begs her to teach him, and she eventually agrees despite his arrogance, which reminds her of Kaecilius.Strange begins his tutelage under the Ancient One and Mordo, and learns from the ancient books in the library, now presided over by the master Wong. Strange learns that Earth is protected from other dimensions by a spell formed from three buildings called Sanctums, found in New York City, London, and Hong Kong. The task of the sorcerers is to protect the Sanctums, though Pangborn chose to forgo this responsibility in favor of channelling mystical energy into walking again. Strange advances quickly over several months, even secretly reading from the text Kaecilius stole from and learning to bend time with the mystical Eye of Agamotto. Mordo and Wong warn Strange against breaking the laws of nature, comparing his arrogant yearning for power to that of Kaecilius, who believes, after the deaths of his loved ones, that everyone should have eternal life.Kaecilius and his followers use the stolen pages to begin summoning the powerful Dormammu of the Dark Dimension, where time does not exist and all can live forever. This destroys the London Sanctum, and sends Strange from Kamar-Taj to the New York Sanctum. The zealots then attack there, where Strange holds them off with the mystical Cloak of Levitation until Mordo and the Ancient One arrive. Strange and Mordo become disillusioned with the Ancient One after Kaecilius reveals that her long life has come from her own use of Dormammu’s power. Kaecilius mortally wounds the Ancient One, and escapes to Hong Kong. The Ancient One tells Strange that he, too, will have to break the rules, to balance Mordo’s steadfast nature. She then dies, despite the best efforts of Strange and a bewildered Palmer. Strange and Mordo arrive in Hong Kong to find Wong dead and the Sanctum destroyed, with the Dark Dimension already engulfing Earth. Strange uses the Eye to turn back time and save Wong, before creating an infinite time loop inside the Dark Dimension that traps himself and Dormammu in the same moment forever. After killing Strange many times to no avail, Dormammu reluctantly agrees to leave Earth if Strange undoes the time loop, taking Kaecilius and the zealots with him.Disgusted by Strange and the Ancient One’s disregard for the consequences of defying nature, Mordo departs. Strange returns the Eye, which Wong calls an Infinity Stone, to Kamar-Taj, and then takes up residence in the New York Sanctum to continue his studies. In a mid-credits scene, Strange decides to help Thor, who has brought his brother Loki to Earth to search for their father Odin. In a post-credits scene, Mordo confronts Pangborn and takes the energy he uses to walk, stating that Earth has “too many sorcerers”.The Marvel Cinematic Universe shines again with manipulative sorcery and cognitive storytelling as this may be the strangest addition but still delivers some kick-ass entertainment.

 

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REVIEW: DR. STRANGE (1978)

CAST

Peter Hooten (Orca)
Clyde Kusatsu (Paradise Road)
Jessica Walter (Archer)
Anne-Marie Martin (Runaway)
Philip Sterling (Another World)
John Mills (Bean)
Sarah Rush (Battlestar Galactica)
Michael Ansara (The Message)

In Hell, where The Nameless One must transfer his position and powers to his successor. Le Fay has three days either to defeat the wizard or kill his successor. Le Fay possesses a young woman named Clea Lake and uses her as a weapon against Thomas Lindmer, who is the “Sorcerer Supreme”. She pushes him off a bridge, and he appears to die, before slowly getting up and healing an injury with magic. His friend, Wong, cares for him and locates Clea Lake for him. Lake, suffering from the psychic aftereffects of the possession and haunted in her dreams by le Fay, ends up under the care of psychiatrist Dr. Stephen Strange at the psychiatric hospital. Strange is the heir to his father’s potential to become Lindmer’s disciple and the next Sorcerer Supreme. Strange bears his father’s magical ring as a sign of this, and he has already sensed something wrong and shared Lake’s nightmare about the previous day’s events, but does not recognize what is going on.
Lindmer contacts Strange at the hospital and tells him that Clea cannot be helped with only medicine. Strange takes Lindmer’s card and is intrigued by the fact that Lindmer’s card bears the same symbol as his ring. Le Fay possesses a cat and tries to have it enter Lindmer’s house, but the magical barriers repel it. The head of the department sedates Clea against Dr. Strange’s directions, causing her to fall asleep, and then seemingly into a coma. Unable to revive her, Dr. Strange goes to visit Lindmer. Le Fay has the chance to kill Strange, but hesitates and he survives. Lindmer tells Strange that his ignorance is a form of protection, and asks him whether he wants to know the truth or remain in ignorance. Strange demands to know the truth, and Lindmer says that he knows about how Strange’s parents died when he was eighteen. He says Strange is special, and that his parents died protecting him. He says there are different realms, and that Lake is trapped in them and only Strange can save her. Strange is dispatched to the astral plane and confronts the demon Balzaroth, who has been sent by Morgan to stop Strange’s rescue of Clea and then succeeds in returning her to the physical world.
The demon questions le Fay about sparing Strange. She confesses to being attracted to him, and the demon threatens to make her suffer eternity as an old woman. She vows that she will not fail. Strange checks on Lake, and agrees to dinner with her later. He goes to see Lindmer and refuses to accept the reality of magic despite having seen it himself. As he leaves, he tries to remove the ring and finds he cannot, but he lets the cat into the house. The cat transforms into le Fay and defeats Wong, seemingly killing him. She then defeats Lindmer, but she cannot kill him in the earthly realm, so she summons Asmodeus to transport him to the demon realms.
Dr. Strange visits Clea, but le Fay interrupts. She promises Strange that Clea will be unharmed if he comes with her to the demon realms, and he does. Once there, he appears to be under her command. She offers him love, wealth, power, and knowledge. She attempts to seduce him, and on the verge of doing so, asks him to remove the ring. He says that only Lindmer can remove it, but she insists that he can do it if he tries. He refuses and defies her. She attacks him, but he defeats her, rescuing Lindmer, and returning them both to the earthly realm and reviving Wong. The demon transforms le Fay into an old hag.  Lindmer explains to Dr. Strange that he must choose whether to remain mortal, or to become the Sorcerer Supreme, forgoing ignorance, offspring, or an easy death, but promises that he will have love. Strange chooses to protect humanity, and Lindmer’s power is transferred to him. Wong then warns him that, while he now has Lindmer’s powers, he does not yet have the knowledge or the wisdom to use them correctly, and that, if he is not extremely careful, he can harm himself or others. Strange then takes Lindmer, rendered unconscious by the transfer, into his arms, and then takes him to his bedroom to recover from the ordeal. Dr. Strange is then shown at the hospital, where many patients have been discharged. He leaves with Clea, who seems to have no memory of what happened, other than as a bad dream. Le Fay is shown on television, young again, posing as a self-help guru. Clea fails to recognize her. Strange agrees to meet Clea later, and the film closes with him playing a trick on a street magician, turning the flowers the magician was going to produce using sleight-of-hand into a dove.Image result for dr strange 1978Having watched the movie again recently, it was nice to see the innocence in the movie. I can see how the occult theme may have been offensive at the time. But with the spot on performances, tight direction and nicely toned humor. Worth watching especially with the big screen version now incinemas.

REVIEW: SPIDER-MAN (1994) – SEASON 1-5

 

 

CAST

Christopher Daniel Barnes (The Little Mermaid)
Edward Asner (Elf)
Linda Gary (He-Man)
Rodney Saulsberry (The Animatrix)
Jennifer Hale (Wreck-It Ralph)
Gary Imhoff (The Green Mile)
Sara Ballantine (Batman Year One)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Liz Georges (As Told By Ginger)
Hank Azaria (The Smurfs)
Joseph Campanella (Ben)
Patrick Labyorteaux (Yes Man)
Maxwell Caulfield (Alien Intruder)
Neil Ross (Rambo)
Roscoe Lee Brown (Babe)
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (Batman: TAS)
Dawnn Lewis (Futurama)
Martin Landau (Ed Wood)
Gregg Berger (Transformers)
Don Stark (That 70s Show)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
George Buza (Mutant X)
Cedric Smith (Earth: Final Conflict)
Norm Spencer (Rescue Heroes)
Catherine Disher (Forever Knight)
Alison Sealy-Smith (You Kill Me)
Alyson Court (Beetlejuice TV)
Chris Potter (Heartland)
Malcolm McDowell (Star Trek Generations)
J.D. Hall (Undercover Brother)
Peter Mark Richman (Friday the 13th – Part 8)
George Takei (Star Trek)
John Vernon (Batman: TAS)
Courtney Peldon (Frozen)
Edward Albert (Power Rangers Time Force)
Robert Hays (Airplane)
Barbara Goodson (Power Rangers)
James Avery (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 80s)
Tony Jay (Lois & Clark)
Dorian Harewood (Earth: Final Conflict)
Jack Angel (A.I.)
Jeff Corey (Conan The Destroyer)
Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek)
Richard Moll (Scary Movie 2)
David Warner (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II)
Mira Furlan (Lost)
Earl Boen (The Terminator)
David Hayter (X-Men)
Roy Dotrice (Hercules: TLJ)
Paul Winfield (Star Trek II)
Majel Barrett (Star Trek)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)

The set itself is well presented, although the artwork is a little cheap, and clearly done in a way as to mimic the style of the 90s series. Anyone who has the recent X-Men Season releases will be familiar with this. Unlike those, this one also has a slipcase. A booklet with episode synopses is also included.

Spider-Man has season-long arcs, which when viewed in succession make for great television. Christopher Barnes is brilliant as Spider-Man (especially in those fleeting moments of extreme rage), and the guests were memorable too, particularly Rob Paulsen’s oafish Hydro Man and Jennifer Hale as Felicia Hardy/ Black Cat.

The music was great too, but while Spider-Man relied on several repeated  cues,  Another thing about Spider-Man is that even after all these years I find myself being surprised by some of the plot twists, which were even more abundant upon first viewing. Thankfully, John Semper (creative head of the show) was bold enough to change much of the original stories to make them worth animating in the first place. What else? A minor triumph, but the colouring on this cartoon is the best of any I’ve ever seen. A simple praise. While the show lost its way during the muddled fourth year it had some great episodes in the last series, with one of the greatest resolution-with-cliffhanger endings in animation history. A rare treat in that its much, much better than you remember it.

Some of the best episodes were – the three-parter, “The Alien Costume”- a marvellous introduction for the ultimately underused Venom (a deliciously insane Hank Azaria)- and the two-part “Hobgoblin” are among the best in the show’s five-year run. “Night of the Lizard”, a pilot of sorts, is interesting in that there’s an awful lot more effort put into the animation than in later episodes, as is often the case.

Animation from the 1990s doesn’t come much better than this, and Marvel have yet to top it.

REVIEW: DOCTOR STRANGE (2007)

 

CAST (VOICES)

Bryce Johnson (Son of Zorn)
Paul Nakauchi (Beware The Batman)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Michael Yama (Click)
Susan Spano (Eugene)
Jonathan Adams (Bones)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs0
Josh Keaton (Green Lantern: TAS)
Tara Strong (Sabrina Down Under)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)

The story is as archetypical and straightforward as any such comic-book concoction. The arrogant, emotionally closed-off Dr. Strange is offered an equally strange glimpse behind the world’s secret, magical curtain only moments before a car accident renders his surgically-perfect hands nearly useless. All seems lost before a mysterious figure points him toward a monastery in Tibet where, it is said, his hands can be healed. Of course, no Tibetan monastery is complete without an ancient band of magical warriors, their powerful-but-elderly leader, a traitorous rogue, a dangerously demonic threat and, of course, a high-octane training montage or two. And before Strange can even write a prescription – he’s been selected as the group’s newest apprentice (and soon-to-be leader) and tasked with thwarting the return of the great demon – Dormammu.


The rest plays out as expected, featuring epic battles against giant creatures with mystical runes and colorful spells, and a handful of well-imagined sword fights. Most surprising, perhaps, is the effectiveness of these action sequences – beautifully choreographed and emotionally resonant as the film pulls few punches in killing its characters after first endearing you to them. There’s a greater depth here than similar movies usually attain, and the subtle blending of solid character work, inspired action and expert filmmaking allow Doctor Strange to rise above the ordinary direct-to-DVD animated adaptation.

The film, however, is not without its flaws – which largely stem from the restraints of the source material. The middle section of the film sags where it should prove most interesting, and the viewer is never fully made to believe that Strange finds any particular awe – as any honest man would – at the magic which all too quickly surges from his fingertips. Rather, he takes up the mantle of “hero” without much resistance, doubt or fascination – a function, really, of the storytelling format, but in a film which succeeds so well in the creation of its supporting characters, one expects more from the man at its center.


But taken as it is – a “hero’s journey,” comic-book, magic-filled adventure film – Doctor Strange is certainly capable of curing the worse disease of all boredom. So take up your cloak, fire off a few incantations and check out this magical DVD.