Lots of movies have come out recently. I may have scrounged some time together to see some of them, but I ]haven’t had time to do much of anything else. So, I wanted to put out my thoughts on these movies in rapid-firing action! So, sit down and buckle up!
Much like Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man, Doctor Strange went against Marvel’s usual formulaic approach to super hero movies. Along with introducing the Multiverse and magical realms, Doctor Strange introduced the first fully three-dimensional character since Tony Stark in Iron Man. Doctor Strange’s hero’s journey takes him from a petty, self-involved neurosurgeon to a destitute and desperate broken man to a heroic and selfless individual, ready to literally sacrifice himself an infinite number of times to save the world. Along with having a similar full-hero journey, much of Doctor Strange’s character reminded me of a Tony Stark, even down to his quippy and sarcastic humor (which I didn’t feel necessarily matched with the character’s source material, but was still entertaining). Doctor Strange’s Inception-esque action scenes were the highlight of the movie along with some humorous scenes led by Doctor Strange’s cloak of all “characters.” However, that was really where the film’s shining moments ended. Besides Benedict Cumberbatch, there were no breakout performances, and Mads Mikkelson’s villain was woefully one-sided and shallow. The film does feature what is probably the most creative resolution of any Marvel film, but the film’s plot leading up to that point isn’t too inspired. The plot does establish Baron Mordo as a villain for future Doctor Strange films – a possibility I hope will give Marvel the opportunity to introduce a three-dimensional and inspired villain. The film also featured some unfortunate and unneeded moments, such as some “comedic attempts” and the scene where Strange discovers the mystical realm from a guy playing basketball. (Yeah. Really.)
While Stephen Strange is a very strong character with a fully-realized hero’s journey and Cumberbatch’s acting steals the show, no strong villain or plot keep this movie from being a great Marvel movie.
I give Doctor Strange a grade of….
Arrival really took me by surprise. Thanks to the filmmakers’ deliberate decision to not reveal too much of the plot in advertisements I went into the movie with a refreshing feeling of “I have no idea what this movie is about.” In a few words, the movie features the arrival of a mysterious alien species and the government enlists the help of an accomplished linguist to discern their foreign language. The film is paced wonderfully and the movie’s major reveals are spaced out and done in such a way that you as the audience gets to experience the same sense of wonderment that the characters must feel in those scenes. The movie is suspenseful and thought-provoking, and when the plot’s many threads finally interweave you can only sit back in your theater seat and run your fingers through your hair while wistfully whispering the word “Brilliant…”
I can’t say much more about this movie in fear of ruining it. Suffice it to say, Arrival is one of the most original science fiction movies (and dare I say, movies in general) in a long time. It is the perfect movie for someone who is a fan of science fiction and the English language. It’s also a beautiful tale of the unifying power of communication and working together – a lesson our world needs to hear.
I give Arrival a grade of…
Much like in Frozen, Disney’s newest film Moana introduces a powerful female lead that solves her problems using her own prowess. Yet, unlike Frozen’s Anna, Moana is a unique Disney character in that she has no love interest and is empowered in spite of (or perhaps, because of) it. From the start of the movie, Moana is unquestionably presented as the leader of her village, no husband or otherwise male overseer necessary. As a teenager, she is a powerful and emboldened female that serves as an inspiration to all young girls everywhere. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s stage musical and R&B background shines through in the film’s soundtrack, which is wholly unique, yet inexplicably Disney. (And who knew The Rock could sing?!) I definitely bought and downloaded the soundtrack the same day I saw the movie. One area I think the movie could have improved on to make it really great was at its beginning. The beginning of the film depicting Maui’s conflict with Te Fiti should have been set apart from the normal narrative of the movie using the unique art style seen in the tattoos and tapestries throughout the movie. Doing so would have made Te Fiti’s and Te Ka’s eventual reveals that much more grand. It’s a little thing, but I believe it would have been an artistic choice to both tap into the movie’s Polynesian roots and create a sense of wonderment surrounding the film’s two primary deities.
Moana is a heartwarming tale about self-discovery and the disfiguring transformations that can take place when you allow other people’s perceptions of you to shape how you see yourself. Moana’s strong lead, unique music, and beautiful animation make it an instant classic.
I give Moana a grade of…
What about you? Have you seen any great movies lately? There certainly have been a lot coming out recently and I haven’t even gotten to see all that I wanted to! I hope your 2016 Holiday Season is full of movies, family, and love.
Keep it nerdy, y’all!