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January 1, 2017

Movie: Dr Strange (2016)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 1:25 pm

imageLet me make a confession first : I went with some misgivings to this movie. First off, Dr Strange is not a major comic book here. I know that he had some dedicated fan following (which comic book hero does not?) but he is not as famous as the Spiderman, Superman, Batman trio. Even the movie makers seem to have turned to him after exhausting every other character – maybe with the exception of even more obscure characters like Plastic Man or She-Ra.  Even Wonder Woman came before him.

 

But sheer movie making can make a huge difference and change my mind and this movie has done exactly that. In fact, it has done this so effectively that I now consider this movie one of my favourites of recent times, even on par with that all time new wonder, Frozen.

The story starts spectacularly, with the battle between Kaecilius, a sorcerer, who steals some pages from a very powerful book chained to a shelf and The Ancient One, who pursues him. The style and the battles, and even the ‘weapons’ used by the Ancient Ones are breathtaking. The first scene sets such a high pace that the next few scenes were a major disappointment. The only other movie I can think of where the first scene is totally unbelievable is that all time classic ‘The Matrix’. Remember the heroine jumping from one tall building to another and the pursuers saying ‘But this is impossible!’?

The next few scenes were disappointing to me because I am hasty to judge and I judged wrong. I thought that the movie was going to go slow after that. It is about a doctor Dr Strange, a famous neurosurgeon who gets into an accident. The neurosurgeon was too ordinary and “normal”. I should have waited. It takes off, and you find how much of a perfect match is the man to the role.

I love how the story has been updated for the times. I have not read the comic books and so do not know what Dr. Strange’s original occupation was, but I am not sure it was a neurosurgeon and also am sure  that he would not be distracted by his cellphone when the accident happened as cell phones did not exist them. (In the TV movie of the same topic made earlier in 1978, Dr Strange is a psychiatry resident – close enough.)

Dr Christine Palmer, his colleague and it seems, a budding romantic interest, saves him but his hands have become useless. He is obsesses with getting his hands back so that he can be that famous and rich neurosurgeon again, he meets a man called Jonathan, who completely recovered from a paralysis from which  the doctors had given up on saving him  and is now well enough to play basketball. On his advice, he goes to Kathmandu, Nepal, in search of the woman who helped Jonathan.

He meets her after showing his stubborn tenaciousness and is slowly absorbed into her world. The story is brilliant, and in not taking itself seriously – with several seriously comic moments in the midst of amazingly tense storytelling (reminds one of the same trick they pulled with Olaf in Frozen). The scene where he is injured and comes as astral projection is an example. Christine, shocked to see his ‘ghost’ near his comatose body asking “What are you doing?”. He: “Using astral projection to help you save me”. Christine “Are you dead?” He : “No, but I soon will be, if you don’t follow my instructions”. And who can forget the fight between the two astral projections as she is focusing on saving him? Astounding.

In addition, the opening of the portals, the way it is portrayed, seems fresh and an entirely new approach to visual effects. It has become the trademark of the man, and I have no doubt that he will join the pantheon of heroes in   Avengers.

 

Right up to the ending, where he confronts the infinitely more powerful Dormammu who is bent on destroying the world and how he wins using his brains and “some accessories” is brilliantly told.

 

Before that, the scenes where everything goes backward in time while three of the heroes and a villain walk calmly forward in time is also a new concept. ( I realize it may not be that difficult to do with special effects of today but for the concept alone, it gets my full admiration)

 

Even tiny touches like the never smiling Wong trying to constantly admonish Dr Strange or how the cloak likes him enough to choose Strange as its new ‘owner’ are all superbly woven together.

 

A great movie, a very good entertainer. Definitely worth a 9/ 10

–  – Krishna

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October 16, 2015

Movie: Ant-Man (2015)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 3:10 pm

imageAnt man? Superhero the size of an ant? Are you kidding me?

Look at the cast. Paul Rudd? The one famous for threatening to legally change his name to  “Crapbag” in the final Friends season? And paired with him is the lost heroine Evangeline Lilly?

Weird as it may seem, this thing works! Sure, there are corny scenes where Ant Man gives a nickname one of his army of ants, a flying ant, and weeps when it dies. But overall, it is a fun movie to watch.

When Dr Hank Pym (Michael Douglass) has invented a shrinking suit and wants a person to try it on, he lands on an unlikely candidate: an ex convicted felon Scott Lang (Paul Rudd). He quit in disgust from his post at SHIELD due to a disagreement with his deputy Hank Stanley, who is trying to copy his suit to use for military purposes, which he is against. His own daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly) stays on in an apparent betrayal of her own father’s principles.

Hank is not so clever and has several funny episodes trying to shrink a sheep.

Scott is lured into “stealing” the “treasure” in a safe by Hank, and finds nothing but a suit sitting there. Disgusted, he tries on the suit and discovers the power.

The rest of the movie is a fun romp of the good vs evil fight, which is a lot of fun to watch, as I said. There is a yellow jacket suit that Hank is designing that seems to be much more powerful than the ant suit, but earmarked to be used for evil purposes.

There is also the side story of Scott’s love for his daughter and his wife’s and her new boyfriend’s disgust over Scott’s wayward lifestyle.

There are hilarious scenes of the shrinking gone in reverse, where a giant toy train and a giant toy tank figure nicely in the movie, not to mention a giant ant.

There is the interesting idea of how he controls an entire colony of ants to do his bidding and how he recruits them all in his fight against the evil.

There are scenes where he experiences the world in ant size, with everyday objects grown to giant proportions. The scene where he first experiments with the suit in a bathtub is fantastic, as is the scene where he runs along the top of a gun, which was moments ago pointed at him.

The story does not matter: it is all a jumble of improbable superhero stuff. The movie is well done, and has a slightly self-deprecating sense of humour running through it. The slow attraction of Hope and Scott is done well and a very cinematic threat from a supernatural Yellow Jacket man (Hank) threatening Scott’s family is cliché but cute.

It gets a surprisingly high 6/10

–  – Krishna

May 28, 2015

Movie : Avengers – The Age of Ultron (2015)


imageThe first Avengers that came out in 2012 was very good. As a sequel, this thing is confusing and, frankly, a letdown. They have tried too hard and it kind of leaves you over saturated with the plot, dialogs, and even special effects.

The trailers are phenomenal and Ultron in the trailers comes out awesome. I could not wait to see the movie, especially when rating websites gave it really high rating. Well, I do not seem to see what they see, but I came away very disappointed.

The Ultron story is based on the comic book story that came out as a series long ago, They have made changes in this movie because in the comic book for example, Ultron takes over Iron Man’s suit with him still inside it and the movie is different.

The story is simple. Ultron is an experiment by a Central European scientist (a fictitious country called Sokovia) named Strucker. He also has other mutant creations like the brother and sister duo of Quicksilver (who can move faster than the eye can see) and Scarlet Witch who can manipulate minds, even those of superheroes.

The usual assortment of Avengers goes to stop him and discovers Ultron’s code and Iron Man (Stark) wants to see how to control it and use it for good. But Ultron, being sentient, defeats Stark’s  Artificial Intelligence program JARVIS and takes over Iron Man’s whole lab. And makes copies of itself using machine parts. Very cool visual.

They fight to conquer it but it seems to be out of control, spreading to the Internet and being able to replicate at will all over the place.

Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans and others are there, as are the additions Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch for instance. Samuel L Jackson also makes an appearance in his usual role of Nick Fury. But the magic is missing. Read on.

And then it gets weirder. First of all, even this story is weird. The gadgetry goes overboard first. All over the place they have halographic screens that they move across thin air like the previous movies. Second, to show that JARVIS is defeated, they show Ultron as a blue network in air, JARVIS as the orange network and the blue “eats” orange. I know the director has to do something so that the audience knows what is going on, but this comes across as kind of tacky.

The dialogs are insipid. Their fighting, running, and then, incredibly having a quarrel among themselves and figuring out how idyllic life in a small town (Hawkeye’s private life) can be.

The human angle, right? But does not come across as natural. Is it me or does even Scarlet Johansson (Black Widow) comes across as tired or jaded?

Also you know how the Iron Man in the original movie kicked ass and just dominated the superhero club? How he had the best lines to himself? Here he comes and goes, as listlessly as the others have become.

And when Ultron, with all that invincible power decides that he “want to get into a human body” you wonder ‘Why? What is in it for you?’. No proper explanation. How can you conquer him? Give a human body to JARVIS of course!

Oh brother! All in all a confusing jumble and you come out of it with your head spinning, slightly bored at times, and with a great feeling of let down.

The visuals are good, as always. The humour is there in places, and they all try to wisecrack in the midst of disaster, but the spark that we found in the first movie seems to be surely missing in this one.

I will say a  4/10

– – Krishna

November 27, 2013

Movie: Thor – The Dark World (2013)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 11:25 pm

imagesBased on the success of Thor and the fad for turning Marvel comics to animated movies, it is no wonder that Thor 2 was released.

This starts with a different super villain. This time it is Dark Elf Malekith, with the help of Kursed, who look like genetically engineered warriors. Odin smashed them and the most potent force called Aether (“Ether?”) which is safely stored in a place where it will “never get out”. But this is the Marvel world and it does get out. Also Malekith has not died, simply frozen, to be unfrozen later in time for this sequel.

Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston, is as enchanting as ever in this sequel. In fact, Loki is even more devious and interesting in this movie than the first one.  He starts a prisoner, imprisoned by Odin for his War Crimes on Earth. The prisoners – a wide assortment of creatures, all evil – are all imprisoned in what looks like glass cages but really force fields.

Chris Hemsworth reprises his Thor role and I am sure many of the ladies go there to see him mainly! (Or, I hear, to see Loki).

Dr Jane Foster, played by Natalie Portman, who is Thor’s lady love in the first movie from whom he was separated “forever” (I mean the Marvel forever, not the real forever) drowns her loneliness in research and finds a portal to another world. She accidentally releases the Aether, and also unfreezes the evil Elf Malekith.

Jane has the Aether inside her and is taken to Asgarth by Thor. While she is there, Malekith comes with his army, takes Jane prisoner and disappears. Knowing that only Loki can take him to Malekith, Thor releases him from his prison against Odin’s wishes and takes him to confront Malekith.

The rest of the story talks about the rescue and the destruction of Malekith.

The story is fun, with Loki’s treachery and double twists coming one after the other and also super villains producing even more super villains like the assistant of Malekith becoming consumed by a part of Aether and becoming virtually indestructible.

There are touching scenes where Loki saves Thor’s life and then some scenes of the ultimate sacrifice by one of the central characters.

There is a twist at the very end that leaves you scratching your head wondering what happened to one of the central characters.

But it preserves the spirit of the first movie and is entertaining.

I think that this movie is to be enjoyed, not questioned – after all it is a Marvel comic adaptation and it does the job well, I think.

 

I would say a 6/10

 

 

–        – Krishna

June 12, 2013

Movie : Iron Man 3 (2013)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 8:16 pm

imagesThis is the third installment of the franchise. It appears as if, like M Night Shyamalan’s movies, this series is also on a downward trajectory, each succeeding movie worse than its predecessor. The first iron man was brilliant, the second was very watchable but paled in comparison to the first, and this one has a lot of clichés that bring it down another level.

Now, first, there is this disappointed disciple turned super villain. How many times has it been done? (From Incredibles onwards, where it was brilliantly portrayed) to (do I remember right?) one of the Spiderman movies in the series right? So when you see the avid fan Aldrich Killian bitterly disappointed after Tony Stark (the industrialist who is Iron Man, played by Robert Downey Jr) stands him up, you know something is going to happen out of this. When it does, you are underwhelmed. The villain is played by Guy Pearce, known for his role as the King in King’s Speech.

You need to take it to the next level, right? In a franchise, every new movie has to have a new gimmick that was not there in previous movies. This time, it is the new model 42 of the iron suit. Its unique feature is that it can fly over to wrap around him from a remote location. The initial failed trial of this is a very funny scene in the movie.

The other interesting scene is when Iron Man crash lands after escaping the complete destruction of his home (unseen where everyone believes him dead – another cliché of superhero movies) he hooks up with a boy who is eager to learn and is patient with him, throwing off his usual arrogance and also as a penance for his being arrogant to Aldrich before, I guess. These are touching and funny scenes in the movie, even though, with another hat on, you can see tons of clichés riding on these ones too.

The other interesting thing is the Super Super villain, above even Aldrich, called Mandarin – the international terrorist. (Played in a very unusual role by Ben Kingsley; if I tell you more, it will be giving away one of the twists in the movie). The twist about Mandarin is a cute one, and definitely catches you unawares.

Purists may crib – and I do too, with them – that in this movie Iron Man really doesn’t do anything except call his techie prowess to his help whenever needed. In the climax scenes, it is his technological wizardry that conquers the day – not him personally. Is it really Superhero stuff?

And, Oh, there is Don Cheadle too, as an able assistant to Iron Man. Robin to his Batman, so to speak.

Well due to the so many repeats, clichés and let downs, I will give it a 6/10.

— Krishna

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