No spoilers – so read on!
For Marvel fans, Doctor Strange brings a distinctive new chapter to the Marvel Universe. And for this fan, it brings life to a favorite comic book hero. Perhaps one of the most powerful Marvel characters, Doctor Strange merges science, mystical magic and spirituality.
Born Stephen Vincent Strange, the doctor in his earlier career was considered one of the top neurosurgeons in the world. Played brilliantly by Benedict Cumberbatch, Strange’s success was partly due to his over inflated ego and keen intellect. As with many Marvel heroes, Doctor Strange undergoes a metamorphosis after a career ending accident that left his hands unable to perform surgery.
In his desperation to heal his hands, the doctor forgoes the usual paths of science and medicine to seek the help of mystics. The location of where Strange finds his powers is a bit vague. Comic book lore indicates a hidden land high in the Himalayas. The filmmakers decided to keep the location more centered in urban area of Nepal. This fit well with the other urban locations where the story delved.
Cumberbatch proves himself worthy of this role. Providing a nice balance of playfulness and intensity that often was shown throughout Doctor Strange comic book history. What was a great surprise and treat was the casting of Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One. Often shown as an older man of some Asian background, this casting was a refreshing take on the character. The only actress that could pull it off with such bravado is Swinton. As always her measured and ethereal charisma brought the Ancient Ones character a feeling of great depth. Swinton always leaves the audience wanting more.
Without Cumberbatch and Swinton’s pivotal performances, the film would have felt uneven and flat. The addition of incredible technical and innovative CGI is what gives Doctor Strange that distinctive appeal all fans have been hoping to experience. Lastly, Chiwetel Ejiofo with his stoic, unbending performance as Baron Mordo casts a vision of what is to come with Doctor Strange.
Overall, Doctor Strange begins a wondrous chapter in the Marvel Universe. Delving into the notion what many perceive as mysticism and magic is actually how the universe exists.
Doctor Strange review in IMAX 3D by benMUSA
Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen and Benedict Wong
#DOCTOR STRANGE #BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH #TILDA SWINTON #CHIWETEL #CHIWETEL EJIOFO #ANCIENT ONE #MARVEL #MORDO #MAGIC #MYSTICISM #EYE OF AGAMOTTO #DARMANU #REVIEW
No spoilers – so read on!
Nostalgic exuberance best describes the latest chapter in the Star Wars saga. From the beginning director JJ Abrams throws the audience back to their childhood. When Star Wars presented hope and wonder that influenced numerous generations.
The opening scene harks to the original film – creating an eerie foreboding. SW fans sense the dark side still has a strong presence in the galaxy. Even though the Emperor and Vader have perished, the First Order has risen to take hold of the power vacuum. The legendary actor, Max von Sydow, reminds us the Force is out of balance and warns Resistance pilot, Poe Dameron. A new character introduced by Abrams while interspersing old favorites. There is no heavy handiness to his method of reintroducing favorite characters – organic and inorganic. Viewers will appreciate the comedic comradery of stormtrooper Fin (John Boyega) and the fiercely independent Rae(Daisy Ridley). Both have somber pasts that offer only vague insights to the last 30 years. It tantalizes the audience and reminds fans what has happened to Luke, Leia, Han and Chewbacca?
With all the action and nostalgia, Episode 7′s story focuses clearly on this fan’s primary question, the influential role of the Force throughout the galaxy. “The Force Awakens” begins seeding this question in the minds of the audience. Essentially, how can a dying “faith” as stated in Episode 4 (the original Star Wars) come back from the brink of extinction? What role does it play 30 years after Episode 6, “Return of the Jedi.”
Masterfully, Abrams shows us the wonder and terror of the Force throughout Episode 7. Like First Order warrior and leader, Kylo Ren (played by Adam Driver), the audience is unsure of the present situation. Although Kylo Ren is a menacing master of the dark force, his lightsaber unsheathed shows the shakiness of his path. Looking closely the audience can see the serrated edges of his lightsaber. Nothing like the clean perfect lines of his predecessors and their light sabers. Episode 7 is introducing fans to a whole new aspect of the Force.
With the latest CGI technology balanced with amazing real life-size sets, the technical crew of this film is truly the shining stars. In some ways they steal many scenes. “The Force Awakens” sends the audience to spectacular terrains and harsh landscapes without the need of supercomputers crunching vast data. The landscapes, like John William’s virtuoso score, set the emotional pitch throughout the film.
The Force is everywhere; it surrounds us and binds us. Episode 7 shows us again how it can be a sense of hope and wonder.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Episode 7) review in IMAX 3D by benMUSA
Starring Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill,Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong'o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Max von Sydow
#HARRISON FORD #MARK HAMILL #CARRIE FISHER #ADAM DRIVER #DAISY RIDLEY #JOHN BOYEGA #OSCAR ISAAC #LUPITA NYONG'O #J.J. ABRAMS #GEORGE LUCAS #STAR WARS #THE FORCE AWAKENS
The hard-hitting comedic punch of Melissa McCarthy and Paul Feig is brilliantly show-cased in their latest film, “Spy.” Once again director and writer Paul Feig creates a masterful backdrop to display McCarthy’s delightful improvisational talents. A top-billing she deserves and should have earned after her Oscar-nominated role in “Bridesmaids.”
The fun doesn’t end with McCarthy. The supporting cast of Jude Law, Rose Byrne, Jason Statham, Allison Janney and Miranda Hart make “Spy” a well-rounded farce.
Feig’s setting for “Spy” is a tongue in cheek acknowledgement to 007. McCarthy plays CIA desk-jockey, Susan Cooper. A bright, cyber tactician who graduated at the top of her class; unfortunately, her docile demeanor has sabotaged her ability to get any “real-world” assignments. Even though on the field Cooper happens to be lethal, just ask her last instructor. The video clip of her graduating obstacle test is stomach wrenchingly funny and disturbing. With the cautionary blessing of her boss, played by Allison Janney, Cooper ventures onto her first mission to thwart the sale of a nuclear bomb.
In her way is Statham’s character who tries to sabotage her attempts to get intel and stop the sale. Statham plays a disheartened CIA spy who doesn’t believe Cooper is capable of completing her mission. Many times Statham steals the scene with his rantings and ravings as the toughest spy while he follows McCarthy throughout Europe.
Rose Byrne as the arms dealer and femme fatale, Raina Boyanov becomes the bunt of many hilarious improvisational jokes when she meets and befriends McCarthy. Byrne’s eccentric hairstyles and McCarthy’s grim wigs almost take on their own persona in many scenes. Yet it doesn’t stop Bryne or McCarthy from delivering delicious zingers at each other.
“Spy” has a great cast and script that allows the masterful improv, McCarthy, to shine throughout the film. She gracefully plays the straight man to let her supporting cast sparkle. This role shows her evolving as an actress and developing as a multi-faceted comedian. “Spy” is definitely another notch in McCarthy’s comedic black belt.
Spy (2015) film review by benMUSA
Starring Melissa McCarthy, Jude Law, Rose Byrne, Jason Statham, Allison Janney and Miranda Hart.
#MELISSA MCCARTHY #JUDE LAW #ROSE BYRNE #JASON STATHAM #ALLISON JANNEY #MIRANDA HART #SPY #SPOOFS #PAUL FEIG #COMEDY #SLAPSTICK #FOUL HUMOUR
My mind still lingers on Dr. Maya Angelou's passing. With every tear, I glimpse into her past. The grief pushes me back into my youth. When I was trying to find my own voice, my own identity. Without her eloquence, my awareness would have been buried deep in the shadows of my fears.
Dr. Angelou taught me how brave James Baldwin fought for equality. She taught me how honest Malcolm X struggled for acceptance. These were her friends. They helped her find those precious words that still flow deeply in the pit of my soul. Her voice made me realize I was part of something far greater then this linear world. That it just takes one compassionate soul to change humanity’s perception and attitude.
The classic story of Sleeping Beauty has been told for decades. The tale was never about Princess Aurora. This retelling shows a different perspective. How the faerie sorcerous, Maleficent, rose to power. That she wasn’t all we perceive, but someone who made regrettable decisions. Instead of hiding and embracing all the darkness that enveloped her, Maleficent rose to embrace a path of compassion.
The viewer sees the wonder of Maleficent’s world - the Moors. Where pixies, tree soldiers, and other faerie folk live together protecting the Moors from the intrusion of man’s kingdom beyond their home. The film sets a serious, elegantly rendered tone from the beginning. Showing how Maleficent has grown alone in her world. Both parents died at a young age. She has grown independent and strong in her abilities. Becoming the natural leader of the Moors, but that suddenly changes when she meets a young human, Stefan. Their growing relationship and failings creates the story of Sleeping Beauty. The anguish of Maleficent’s relationship is the center, the focal point of this film.
No one else could possibly create empathy in such a dark character then Angelina Jolie. She embodies Maleficent, balancing that fine line of cruelty and compassion. Her smile freezes the whole theatre screen with a delicate, sultry pain. You understand how the betrayal of her first love invokes a deep anger. Jolie shows us even in the pain of such betrayal, everyone has the ability to see the goodness of others. To remind ourselves hope never fades completely.
Reviewed by benMUSA
#ANGELINA JOLIE #MALEFICENT #DISNEY #FILM #REVIEW #SLEEPING BEAUTY #PIXIES #FAERIE #FANTASY
Attack on Titan draws on the darkest parts of humanity. In this hopelessness, the viewer is compelled to look even deeper with each character as they are beautifully revealed. Attack on Titan is not a simple story or an answer to humanity’s failings. It is a destructive and horrific tale that harshly reveals society’s perverse gluttonous consumption of all that it holds so dearly.
Set in an alternate universe in the year 845, humanity is on the brink of extinction. Giants, some 15 meters tall, suddenly appear everywhere and began to devour all humans. There is no reason for these Titans’ unending hunger, nor an understanding of their ability to continuously regenerate. Only a spot on the nape of the neck seems to be the weak point of these marauding, sexless killers. With a hardened skin that is difficult to penetrate, the Titans seem unstoppable. So humanity retreats to a mega city comprised of 3 circular 50 meter walls that protect different social classes: Wall Maria, Wall Rose and the innermost Wall Sina.
After 100 years of peace within the confines of the mega city, the series introduces young Eren Yeager who lives behind the outer most wall – Maria. With his adopted sister, Eren witnesses a colossal Titan that towers over Wall Maria. With one kick the Titan punches a hole through the wall that protects his village. Waves of Titans move through his village consuming any human in their path. Just barely escaping and witnessing close ones devoured, Eren swears to kill every Titan. He joins the military who have developed a means to combat the Titans - the Vertical Maneuvering Equipment (VME). Weaponry using a strap-on high velocity pull system that is attached to titanium blades. A trigger on the handles activates the pulley system. Using the VME greatly taxes the muscles and ligaments and only an elite group can truly master fighting from a three – dimensional perspective.
From the first episode, you empathize with Eren’s frustrations. He feels the limitations the walls placed on humanity. He yearns to travel and join the Military’s Scout division. To find answers to why the Titans exist and why they left humanity alone for so long. After the destruction of his village, Eren’s questions take root in the series’ central plot. With each decision and revelation, the plot thickens and dips into murder, mystery, thriller and political intrigue.
Attack on Titan leaves you frustrated and disillusioned with the weight of Eren’s duty to protect humanity. You feel his anxiousness and fear of the unknown. At times you are terrified that any moment humanity could be wiped out. With the passionate soundtrack by Hiroyuki Sawano, the intense action scenes are greatly amplified and truly showcase the wonderful animation by Wit Studio and Production I.G. “Attack of Titan” is a superb and stimulating anime series. Like the VME – it reveals multi-dimensions of humanity’s darkest sins and enlightened hopes.
Reviewed by benMUSA
#DARK #FANTASY #TRAGEDY #ADULT THEMES #VIOLENT #DYSTOPIAN #STEAMPUNK #VICTORIAN #ANIME #SERIES #ATTACK ON TITAN #SHINGEKI NO KYOJIN #HAJIME ISAYAMA #SHŌNEN #TETSURŌ ARAKI #YASUKO KOBAYASHI #HIROYUKI SAWANO #WIT STUDIO #PRODUCTION I.G #REVIEW
The second part to “The Hobbit - The Desolation of Smaug" is a riveting film. This film is a definite must see in 3D at high film rate (48 per second compared to 24).
Tolkien’s book is a lightweight compared to the Lord of the Ring series he created. Director Peter Jackson is able to delve into Tolkien’s Middle Earth using the extensive appendices Tolkien wrote for “Return of the King.”
Hobit 2 has a heaviness about it - like a brooding, tensive animal. Your eye is only momentarily drawn to the vast CGI detail that expands the universe we were introduced in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. At the moment when you feel that fantastical wonder of Middle Earth, you are whipped back into the action that almost makes you feel you are part of the story.
Peter Jackson does take liberties introducing a female character into a story that only had male leads. But this is not a heavy handed approach. The female character, Tauriel, is the moral compass. Although purists would argue it's unnecessary, I would disagree. Tauriel draws out the Elvish culture in finer detail. Although they are a powerful and enlightened race, they are not immune to the petty problems every society deals with such as selfishness, a sense of entitlement and even a caste system.
"The Desolation of Smaug" answers many questions for this fan. It helps embellish and enhance the story of the One Ring and what became of the Necromancer - the Dark Lord Sauron.
Reviewed by benMUSA
#the hobbit#lord of the rings#tolkien#peter jackson#review