Movie Review: Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle (2018)

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Summary: A human child raised by wolves must face off against a menacing tiger named Shere Khan, as well as his own origins.
Pros:
Cast and Characters. The voice over cast is extremely good. I didn’t know who was in the movie before I watched it so I wasn’t really placing anyone. I then noticed Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett and Benedict Cumberbatch were in the movie and then I figured out who they were lol.
  • Rohan Chand as Mowgli. First of all, this kid is adorable. Extremely. I thought he did very well in the movie. There were a few times where it wasn’t coming through exactly like in the emotional moments but overall, I thought he managed to push through it. I like the moments where he’s quiet and he’s just watching because he has very expressive eyes. Some of my favorite moments was when he just got into the man village and he was learning everything, the camera would just watch him as he watched and learned and it was really beautiful. I also thought he did very well with reacting to the animals around him, showing his fear, his anger and the emotional bits. As I said, it didn’t always hit but I thought he did very well. He was very sympathetic.
  • Christian Bale as Bagheera. He is a black panther who finds Mowgli after his family was killed and takes him to the wolves. He becomes one of Mowgli’s mentors and friends. We also learn from him that he was born in human custody. Bagheera is kind and caring and while he believes in Mowgli, he’s also worried about him when it comes to living in the jungle with Shere Khan on the loose. Bagheera often makes choices that would protect Mowgli even if it seems harsh at the time. I knew I recognized his voice when I first started watching the movie, I think Christian Bale is great at voice overs (Howl’s Moving Castle anyone?) and his voice is so soft with honey like tones in the movie that it really works. There’s a great scene where Mowgli and Bagheera are talking about Bagheera’s history and it was a moving scene.
  • Benedict Cumberbatch as Shere Khan. He is a crippled Bengal tiger and Mowgli’s arch-enemy. He’s ruthless and will do anything to get what he wants. I think with him being crippled (his front right paw is like bent back so he can’t walk on the pad of his paw). Benedict Cumbersnatch is good at voice acting, he’s played many a villain in motion capture. I thought the voice he put on for the character was sinister.
Supporting Characters. There are a lot of side characters, some whose names I didn’t retain but there are a few who might not constantly be in the film but they have important roles.
  • Cate Blanchett as Kaa. She is a python and a seer. She is the main narrator of the film and it seems that she is on Mowgli’s side. We see her mainly twice, once where she saves Mowgli and then another time when he goes to her and she shows him some important information. I guess she could be a “mentor” but she’s not around enough for me to really say that. Cate Blanchett is always a win and her voice is amazing as always.
  • Andy Serkis as Baloo. He’s not the Baloo we know from the Disney movies, but a grisly, drill sergeant teacher. His face has a lot of scars showing his life, which was cool, but he looked a little odd. We did get to see him fight a few times which was cool. I don’t think he and Mowgli had a relationship that rivaled what we’ve seen before but the role he played, where he encouraged Mowgli to be at his best. One of my favorite parts was during the Running and he freaked out on Bagheera because of what he did. Andy Serkis is always great in motion capture and he’s great here too.
Dark and Gritty. I’ve never read the book, it’s on my list and I don’t know the tone of the story but this is very different from the Disney versions which director Andy Serkis made clear. For one thing, Baloo is this grisly mentor instead of a happy-go-lucky friend. Also, with the hunter and how Mowgli ends up deciding between the village and the jungle that was pretty intense. The monkey scene as well, there isn’t a King Louis but the monkeys end up knocking him out while dragging him to their hideout, and Shere Khan leaves this giant scar down Mowgli’s arm… I mean it’s also a little bloody. I quite enjoyed it though. I also think there was a little more at stake here in that Shere Khan was doing things that would break jungle law. The Hunter storyline in general and what we learn about Bagheera.
Bagheera and Mowgli. I didn’t want to compare this to Disney’s The Jungle Book (2015) but in this case I kind of have too. In both Disney versions, one of the biggest praises is the friendship that Mowgli has with both Bagheera and Baloo. Obviously, they are on two different levels with Baloo being the fun-loving friend and Bagheera being the protective one, but this movie does it a little differently. Baloo and Mowgli aren’t really friends at all, but he and Bagheera are and I thought the relationship they had was beautiful. Bagheera truly cared about him and did everything he could to protect him even if it came off in the wrong way. The scene by the cage, that is one of my favorite scenes.
The Man-Village. This might be a little spoilery, but meh lol. I really enjoyed the scenes in the man village. Mowgli wakes up in a cage and just watches everything around him and we see how some of the people react to him as he is a little jungle baby. Then when we finally see him out and about in the village, there’s a great scene between him and Frida Pinto as she washes him and teaches him the ways of the village. There’s not a lot of dialogue that goes on while he’s there, mostly because he doesn’t understand their language (though I wonder since he understands the animals, can other humans understand them or how that works. I mean, it’s fine but I’m curious). Then they have a Festival of Colors and I want to go so bad lol, but it was great and to see him fall into it and enjoy himself. It was great. I really liked all of that stuff.
Cons:
Shere Khan’s Motives. I guess he doesn’t really need any but I’ve always thought the idea of him killing humans just to kill them was lame. I mean, sure, it’s a villain move, but he’s so hellbent on getting Mowgli because he missed him the first time without an actual cause? It doesn’t make for a very interesting villain personally. He keeps doing things that breaks the law of the jungle… but why? He didn’t necessarily need to say why, but it would have been nice to discover that.
A Little Too Dark. There were a lot of times in the movie where I couldn’t see what was going on. I shouldn’t have to adjust my TV’s brightness for the movie to be seen. It was really annoying a few times so I just had to shrug it off.
Weird CGI. I don’t think all of the animals looked that great. It was cool that they had scars and battle wounds ya know, they’ve lived in the jungle but some of them looked scary and not in a good way. I think particularly the wolves and Baloo didn’t look great.
Rushed In the Last Act. I prefer the first half definitely because I thought it was pretty well paced but the last half flew through the story. I liked the stuff in the village, especially when he was in the cage, but once he finds that stuff with Lockwood, it just goes so fast that it feels so different from the first half. His standoff with Shere Khan was so quick I was like… meh.
Overall, I quite enjoyed Mowgli: Legend of the Jungleand I tried not to compare it to Disney’s version in 2015 and yes, it’s very different. I thought most of the characters were interesting, particularly Mowgli, Shere Khan and Bagheera. All of the motion capture and voice over acting was handled really well and I thought Christian Bale really portrayed the character of Bagheera in an interesting, compelling and sympathetic way. I will also give Rohan Chand his props for playing Mowgli. This is his first leading role and I thought he handled himself really well, he’s really great to watch. I enjoyed the dark and gritty tone in that it felt like there were actual things at stake, the hunter storyline, the kind of frightening images and of course the monkey stuff lol. I also really loved the storyline between Bagheera and Mowgli, they seemed a lot closer in this version and it allowed them to have a different kind of relationship that was really emotional. The man village scene was beautiful, without the dialogue it really helps just watch Mowgli grow immersed. Now, I did have a problem with how dark the movie looked in that I couldn’t tell what was going on. The CGI wasn’t always the best. The last act was extremely rushed  after what I thought was nice pacing in the first two acts. Also, Shere Khan’s motives were kind of meh. I get it but meh. But it’s worth the watch if you love The Jungle Book.
Rating: 3.59 out of 5 stars.
Have you seen Netflix’s Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle? If not, you should check it out, it’s worth the watch especially if you love The Jungle Book. If you have seen it, let me know your thoughts down below and let’s discuss!
Thanks for reading and be sure to like and follow this blog for more movie reviews!
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Movie Review: Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

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Summary: The Avengers and their allies must be willing to sacrifice all in an attempt to defeat the powerful Thanos before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts an end to the universe.
Pros:
Cast and Characters. All of the characters we have met are pretty much in this film so it’s a lot. I feel like I have to talk about most of them. Some definitely have way more to do than others but they’re all important in their ways.
  • Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark / Iron Man. We find Tony in a different place in this movie, it’s been two years since Civil War and he and Pepper are talking about the future. However, Tony feels a threat coming and he wants to do whatever he can to protect Earth. But he still is a bit hung up on past things and sometimes can’t get out of his own way, as per usual. Throughout this movie, Tony is trying to be a leader, trying to work with everyone he comes into contact with and I think he has to learn that things don’t always out the way 
  • Chris Evans as Steve Rogers / Captain America. Following the events of Civil War, Steve is a fugitive and the leader of a faction of the Avengers. Steve is always as unshakable as he always has been. When he gets the call about Thanos, he shows up and immediately gets into action, especially with the hope of not sacrificing anyone. If Steve can save you, he’ll do it. If he can throw himself on the grenade for you, he’ll do it and he does that here. I think it’s easy to tell that he’s a little different. After everything that’s happened, he’s seen a lot and he definitely seemed to be in a more “somber” place, not that Steve is ever really that upbeat, but he just seems different. I love his look, with the beard and the longer hair. I also loved how his uniform still had an air of his old uniform, but with darker colors because his whole story was him questioning everything he knew and loved. I think Chris Evans is fantastic as Steve and I’m going to be very sad when Marvel Studios finishes with our main heroes’ stories and we move on because Steve has just been this pillar for me. Chris Evans manages to keep Steve likable while also making sure his values, morals and ideals are never shaken. He’s a true leader. I’d follow him anywhere.
  • Chris Hemsworth as Thor. His story picks up right after Thor: Ragnarok which is an interesting place because he has super emotional motivations considering where we left off in that movie. He wants to protect his people, including his brother (where’s Valkyrie by the way?) and throughout the movie, he just wants to find a way to harness his power. He lost his hammer in the last movie, so now he’s on a mission to do something to help against Thanos. I’m so glad they allowed Hemsworth to really do some humor as Thor because he’s funny and I think Thor deserves to be a balance between funny and serious. I love his new look, I love all of his interactions with everyone, he always has great chemistry with the people around him.
  • Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner / Hulk. In this film, Banner starts off as The Hulk with Thor and Loki in the beginning. Heimdall uses his power to send him back to Earth, and Banner spends a lot of the movie trying to reintegrate with the Avengers since Hulk left in Age of Ultron. He keeps trying to tell everyone how dangerous Thanos is and I think the biggest thing is that we’re starting to see… is there that much of a difference between Bruce and Hulk these days? We really get to see more of Bruce in this one, see him become an Avenger over his giant counterpart. I love Mark Ruffalo, I think he’s a great actor and I very much enjoy him go between playing Bruce and playing Hulk.
  • Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow. She ends up being with Steve, despite being against him in Civil War, and not ending up with him in the end. She must have found them. She’s changed her look (I don’t care for the blonde) and she’s like Steve’s right hand, which I like because I do like the fact that they have such a great friendship. I don’t think she does much until the fight on Wakanda, where she kind of teams up with Okoye which is awesome in many ways. I’ve never been a ScarJo fan but she’s fine in this role. She does also have good chemistry with her coworkers as well. 
  • Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange. Doctor Strange gets involved when Bruce falls into the New York sanctum. He also has the Time Stone so obviously he’s a target. Strange definitely is a bit more humble coming from his first film, but he’s still a bit of douche. Which is why his scenes with Tony were so great. Cumberbatch and Downey Jr. worked really well together. The thing about Strange is that his goal to protect the time stone and he doesn’t care about who gets in the way of him doing that. His character arc in the film I think is the most noticeable. Cumberbatch is still fine in the role, I think his American accent was better this time around but I really liked Strange a lot more in this then I did previously.
  • Tom Holland as Peter Parker / Spider-Man. Peter is back and I love him still. He’s a kid so it’s great to see him reacting to things and especially with him being kind of new to this, he throws himself head first (which is why I want him to really interact with Steve, he’s so much like him) and is willing to do whatever he can to help. He’s following Tony and Strange’s lead but he always pulls his weight. Tom Holland is great still, and he has a great emotional scene at the end that really got me.
Supporting Characters. I definitely thought there was a distinction between the characters we saw the most and the ones who would be considered “supporting”. I mean, everyone is good so if I don’t really go into detail about everyone, it’s kind of for a reason.
  • Don Cheadle as James “Rhodey” Rhodes / War Machine. The last time we saw him was in Civil War, where he was paralyzed. Tony creates an apparatus so he can walk again but it’s easy to tell that he’s a bit reluctant to put on his suit again after what happened. However, he also seems to be regretting the side he chose in Civil War, mostly since he was only on that side because he’s Tony’s best friend. I’m sure Tony feels responsible for his injury but they hardly interact in this movie, since Rhodey is with Steve most of the time. But I think he definitely is regretting things. Cheadle is fine as always, he has a commanding presence as Rhodey but I don’t think he has a lot to do in the film.
  • Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa / Black Panther. Picks up right after his movie, he’s the king of Wakanda. He’s housing Bucky Barnes, and Steve takes his team to Wakanda with the hope of Shuri being able to help remove the Mind Stone from Vision. T’Challa welcomes them and I think he and Steve could also have a great friendship. I also liked that while on Wakanda, everyone took the lead from him. Chadwick is great as always in this role. He’s regal, kingly, and he looks good while doing it lol.
  • Paul Bettany as Vision. He has the Mind Stone in his head so he’s definitely a target as well and important. He’s with Wanda and they’re attacked by Thanos’ lackeys for his stone. They fight but are overwhelmed, Steve, Sam and Natasha show up and Vision has definitely become way more human so he’s willing to sacrifice his life but Steve believes everyone can be saved. Vision is willing to do what he can to live, but at the same time, save the others. Paul Bettany is great as Vision because you can clearly see the conflict he’s feeling when it comes to wanting to be with Wanda but also not wanting to be a part of destroying the world.   He’s really hopeful in this, he definitely doesn’t feel like an untouchable android.
  • Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch. I believe she is the youngest of Steve’s faction of Avengers. She can harness magic and she’s really powerful. I really hope they allow her even more to use her magic to its full ability because in the comics, Wanda can warp reality. But anyway, her goal is to save Vision without him dying because of love. I like Olsen in the role, I just wonder if they got rid of the accent because at times it was very faint and other times it definitely seemed like it was gone completely. She’s also great at emotional moments.
  • Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes. I LOVE Bucky, I just wish he was in these movies more but whatever. He’s been on Wakanda, living life, getting better and his hair’s all healthy and stuff lol. He’s the White Wolf lol. Once he’s told that he’s needed, he gets his new arm and gets right back in the fold. Sebastian Stan is also always good and he’s great as Bucky. Give him more to do!
  • Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson / Falcon. A member of Steve’s faction of Avengers, he doesn’t have much to do other than being a wingman (lol pun intended) and to fight from the air. I love Sam though and I hope he gets more to do later on.
  • Tom Hiddleston as Loki. He’s always great as Loki, so memorable and he has some great stuff right at the beginning. We’ve really seen Loki fluctuate through the last 10 years and I think he’s still an interesting character. Tom definitely understands him and made him not only a memorable and one of the MCU’s best villains, but also someone who can be a hero when he needs to be.
  • Zoe Saldana as Gamora. She is a Guardian but also Thanos’ daughter. We know that she has daddy issues period but this film really allows that to take shape in how she’s reacting to everything. Gamora knew this day would come and I think part of her hoped that he wouldn’t go through it, while the other part of her wants him to try to fail. Zoe Saldana had a lot of emotional moments in this movie and she does well. I really felt it.
  • Karen Gillan as Nebula. I guess she’s a member of the Guardians now, at least loosely lol. She is also an adopted daughter of Thanos but she doesn’t seem to be the favorite, or even one he truly cares about. However, her and Gamora have gotten closer thanks to Vol. 2 which Thanos exploits that relationship. I enjoy Nebula, she’s very entertaining and it’s interesting to see the opposite side of Thanos’ relationship with his daughters. I haven’t really seen Karen Gillan in anything but these movies, but I think Nebula is a bit sad in how her life seems to be, which works. Makes you feel bad for her even though she can have an attitude lol.
  • Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer. I normally find Drax annoying, however he was funny in this, I loved his “invisible” scene. It was really funny. He seeks vengeance against Thanos for killing his family. He can get a little “tunnel vision” because of that but his relationship with the other Guardians is great. They all have a great relationship period. Dave Bautista is fun when Drax isn’t being annoying.
  • Vin Diesel as Groot. Of course Groot is like a teenager in this film, so he has a bit of an attitude. His teeth even look like he has braces lol. Like you want to pop him for just the tone. He spends a lot of the time on a video game just so unbothered about everything happening around him, till he has to rise up and take initiative and it was so beautiful. Vin Diesel is still great as the voice. It’s fun watching him do behind the scenes of the voice and how he just does different things even if all Groot says is “I am Groot”. 
  • Bradley Cooper as Rocket. A genetically engineered raccoon-based bounty hunter and mercenary, and is a master of weapons and battle tactics. I love Rocket, he’s my favorite of the Guardians and he decides, along with Groot, to travel with Thor and he gets to play Captain while Thor is thinking about the events at the beginning of the movie. Bradley Cooper is still great as the voice, he manages to put a lot of emotion into Rocket’s voice and Sean Gunn does great with his motion capture.
  • Chris Pratt as Peter Quill / Star-Lord. He is the leader of the Guardians. Quill starts off the movie with his group and they run into Thor. The Guardians split up among different missions and Quill goes through some things on his mission. He has to deal with what’s happening with Gamora and how she’s revealing things to him. He also does something really stupid that I’m still mad at him for. I don’t know if it was part of a plan or not, but still stupid. Chris Pratt is fine at Quill, I actually enjoyed seeing him bounce off of Downey Jr., Holland, and Cumberbatch. He also has good chemistry with Saldana.
The Villain. So Thanos gets his own section from our heroes because he deserves it. For a character that’s been teased for years and movies, I think he lives up to his hype. He’s threatening, he’s big, he’s scary and ironically he does have emotional moments. Thanos isn’t just trying to be a bad guy, in his mind, what he’s doing is for the good of the universe. I mean, it’s selfish because he think it’s his mission, he’s really doing it for himself. I think he’s a complicated villain. Josh Brolin does a great job with him as well. His movements and facial expressions for Thanos I thought were handled very well. Even though I HATE HIM, he’s fantastic.
I cried. So it’s emotional. I can’t say that everyone will cry, nor will you cry all at the same places of the movie. I think it depends on the person and on whether or you’re a crier. I’m a crier. However, I felt an array of emotions during this film. The first 20 minutes had me in my feelings, my friend had to constantly calm me down throughout the movie because I was so upset. Something else happened, I like that character so I was upset but I wasn’t like how I was in the first 20 minutes. Then… the big one, the ending. I know all about people’s contracts, and the movie lineup so it’s easy to sooth one’s feelings but in the emotions and turmoil of the movie, that stuff packs a wallop and I felt all of that. Upset. The theater was dead quiet, and I think I definitely heard sniffling, not just coming from me. After I see it again, and hopefully do a Spoiler Talk (those are so hard to do lol), I can go into more detail but everything they wanted me to feel, I felt it. I’m sure there will be people who will scoff at the emotions the movie wants you to feel, and that’s fine, but for me, I felt all of that. Anger, sadness, hope, confusion. All of it.
I laughed. I think Infinity War, has a great balance of humor and somber tones. It’s very funny which can’t helped considering the cast and the humorous characters. There will be a lot of laughter throughout and different kinds, so, if you don’t find Drax funny, which I normally don’t because he annoys me, you’ll see Peter Parker say or do something that is funny. It definitely varies from humor types and I loved that.
The Beautiful Visuals. Marvel Studios has been building up to this for ten years (Which I love the 10 in the Studios of their logo) and it definitely shows. Tony has a new suit and the way he uses it, it’s definitely his best suit yet. Also, Spider-Man’s Iron Spider suit, that thing was awesome, definitely reminiscent of that suit in the comics. There are a few parts where certain things happen, ugh spoilers lol, but there’s a scene on Knowhere that was pretty cool where the effects are used for Drax and Mantis and I was shocked because that was so different! Then of course I thought Thanos looked really good and real on-screen. There’s a really cool scene with Nebula, I mean it’s not cool for her, but it was cool to look at. Plus, the characters using their powers, or their weapons, or whatever, it’s all handled so well that you don’t get lost in who is doing what. You know it’s Steve running all super fast alongside Black Panther. Or that it’s Peter swinging around with his webs, or Doctor Strange using his sorcery to fight and warp dimensions. *Sighs* It’s so beautiful.
The use of Sounds/Music. What I mean by this is usually Marvel films start out with an upbeat, or some type of familiar music when the logo is on-screen. This movie starts out so ominous that it puts right into the head space of this film from the jump. I knew what I was getting myself into but I knew it was going to be a hard one. There are moments throughout where the music swells and you’re excited, or when you go to a location, for example Wakanda and drums are being played. Stuff like that. They’ve done so much world building that you know where you’re going when you hear the music. Plus, the music at the end… wow.
Cons:
The Story Narrative. So, I think the story was a bit weak. I mean, I get it. But it’s really just action moving forward more than the plot moving forward. Yes, the movie about our heroes saving the world from Thanos, while it’s also about Thanos, who probably can be considered the main character of the movie. We learn a lot about him, but it just feels like our heroes are just popping up, being introduced in the movie and teaming up. Compared to The Avengers, which I think has a more solid storyline, I think this movie kind of lacks a clear narrative. It’s not like it’s not there, I just think it’s weak. There’s so much being juggled that I think the story gets left behind, especially when we cut to different characters and what they’re doing.
Stakes. There were times where I was unsure what or who was going to happen, or whatever. They want you to feel like everyone is in danger, and while that’s true sometimes, I think it shies away from taking some bigger risks that it could have, and probably should have taken.
Overall, I loved this movie. My problems with it did not prevent me from enjoying it and having a great time watching it. I was very emotional from the beginning and remained in a heightened state of stress throughout the rest of the film. I think all of the characters we have come to know and love were all great in their own right. I do wish we got to see more of certain characters but there was a lot to cover and I think they did well. It was funny, the movie knew how to balance the humor with the emotion and I think the writing was handled in a mature way that didn’t make the humor seem juvenile. However, I did cry. It’s very emotional throughout the movie and the ending packs a wallop I think. I also loved the visuals, we got to revisit Wakanda which is just as beautiful (even though we didn’t see a lot of it) as it was in the movie, and all of the visuals were handled in a way that I’m sure would be great to see it in IMAX. Thanos was a great villain. He really came in and effed everything up which made me hate him, but I also liked him. I also think the way music was integrated in the film. It’s always important to have an engaging soundtrack and I think the movie does that. Plus, the way it took sound away so it was only the visuals, made me stress out even more. On the other hand, I did notice a few things, I thought the story was a bit weak and it just felt like a series of actions more than an actual plot flowing throughout the movie. The stakes   are high but at the same time it doesn’t always feel organic. I think things would have been different if the ending was just a tad different, it might have been a bit more emotional. HOWEVER I love this movie and it destroyed me. I’m still upset about it now lol but it’s a great movie.
Rating: 4 out 5 stars.
Have you seen Avengers: Infinity War? What did you think about it? Let me know in the comments below and don’t forget to like and follow this blog for more reviews!

Doctor Strange (2016)

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You guys, I already love Marvel Studios and I generally love all of their films. There may be a few that fall flat compared to others but I don’t necessarily think any of their films were missteps. I don’t know much about Doctor Strange from the comics, I know of his involvements in certain large arcs, and I know a little about his origins but again, I am not an expert on this character from the comics so this review is strictly about the film. I may mention some of the controversy the movie faced in the beginnings but who knows what might happen.
Summary: Dr. Stephen Strange’s (Benedict Cumberbatch) life changes after a car accident robs him of the use of his hands. When traditional medicine fails him, he looks for healing, and hope, in a mysterious enclave. He quickly learns that the enclave is at the front line of a battle against unseen dark forces bent on destroying reality. Before long, Strange is forced to choose between his life of fortune and status or leave it all behind to defend the world as the most powerful sorcerer in existence.
Pros: 
Cast and Characters: For the most part, I enjoyed all of the characters. Some obviously received more development than others but I think Scott Derrikson managed to make sure everyone received a nice amount of development.
  • Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange. To be honest, I remember thinking ‘wow, that’s some pretty good casting because he kind of looks like the comic book dude’, I think Cumberbatch is a great actor and I knew he would be fine in the role. In the beginning of the film, Strange is pretty much an arrogant douchebag who just happens to be brilliant at what he does. He’s such a snob that you can’t help but to laugh at the audacity at the things he says to people, but he’s so brilliant that you want to like him. Think Tony Stark just… maybe less likable. When he has his car accident, the nerves in his hands are ruined so he cannot perform surgeries anymore, he tries everything he logically can to fix them. So when he’s desperate Cumberbatch really knows how to push into those emotions, he manages to easily portray an arrogant jerk, with his delivery, putting on American accent helps with that too, but he seamlessly delivers humorous lines, and can really portray despair with just his face. Stephen’s growth as a man is handled well and coupled with the writing and the acting, it’s believable.
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor as Mordo. I do believe in the comics he’s a villain but here, he is a student of the Ancient One, he is one of her firmest believers and he’s great at what he does. He also takes the position as Strange’s “trainer” at times. It’s easy to tell there is a great respect between Mordo and The Ancient One and a growing respect between Mordo and Strange but I think what the film does with this character is interesting. I think Ejiofor is an excellent actor and the way he portrays emotions with his eyes, just kills me. When his character is emotional, or feels pain, or is angry, you know that he really gets it. Mordo is an interesting and “ambiguous” character as Ejiofor himself cites and I think his return will be a very interesting one. I do wish he had more to do though.
  • Rachel McAdams as Christine Palmer. I looooove Rachel McAdams, I think she is such a great actress. Her character here reminds me of Rosario Dawson’s character in the Netflix Marvel shows… just underused. She is a surgeon alongside Strange, but unlike him, she is kind and compassionate and while the two had a fling in the past, she seems to still care, and while it seems that he does, he’s a jerk about it. McAdams maintains a sweetness about her in this character, as well as someone who is just tired of Strange’s crap even if she wants to put up with it to be helpful. She’s by his side when he’s in his accident and it’s just so cute. She’s also very funny, without giving moments away, there are some great comedic moments with her in the beginning of the third act of the film. So, I think this is more praise for the actress than the actual character.
  • Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One. Now, there was a lot of controversy around this character, in this film, she is a Celtic woman whereas in the comics he’s a Tibetan monk and while I don’t mind the gender switch, I think it would have been nice to maintain a Tibetan origin considering where the character lives, the beliefs and practices of the character. I understand the reasons, they didn’t want to fall into the Asian stereotypes of “Dragon lady” with an older Asian woman, or “sexual” with a younger woman, but I still think that was a cop out.
    • With that said, I think Tilda Swinton is an excellent excellent actress and I really did like her in the role, she can easily be wise, enigmatic and funny as this character is. She is intimidating with the way she stares into the camera, she’s looking into your soul! But she can easily provoke a feeling of wanting to follow her, to understand her teachings and be her student. I think the fact that she can just disappear into her characters shows her strength as an actress. That’s all I can say about this character without spoiling her.
  • Mads Mikkelsen as Kaecilius. This actor freaks me out, he seems to always play these kind of “villainous” or “scary” types of characters. His character was a Master who learned from The Ancient One but he basically defected. The best way to describe his character is similar to Saruman’s character from Lord of the Rings, where he is a villain but he’s there to help move the story and characters to facing their Sauron (I saw that analogy in an article lol). His makeup was really cool and he was a cool dude in general. That’s all. Praise for the actor more so the character.
  • Benedict Wong as Wong. I like that dude but ya know underused.
The Cinematography. Oh boy this film looks amazing. I can’t even. I think this is a film that you should definitely see in IMAX 3D if you can because it would probably be so worth it. I saw it Standard which is fine too but if you can, pay extra. The way the camera films the locations, how it pans over Kathmandu, Nepal, so beautiful. There is a steady shot where the sun is setting or rising and it was so beautiful. It’s very crisp.
The CGI/Graphics. Oh man, due to the fact that this movie dabbles in sorcery and magic, in a way the other MCU films haven’t, it allows for a different approach to things. When Strange first goes to find out how to save his hands, there’s a whole scene where the Ancient One talks to him while he’s experiencing things and it’s… quite amazing. Plus, the design on the magic/sorcery itself is pretty cool.
Strange’s Cape. Without giving too much away, Doctor Strange is easily recognizable due to his clothing, especially his maroon… red? lol cape. It’s very similar to how Carpet from Aladdin was presented. It’s great, hilarious and I want one.
The Humor. I can’t say it’s one of the funniest, because I mean Tony is pretty hilarious but Strange is funny in his own way and the way the dialogue is delivered here helps. Scenes with the cape, with facial expressions from the characters, The Ancient One has some great humorous moments, even the villains. So, I think everyone will laugh, or at least get a nice chuckle out of this film. It’s pretty lighthearted honestly.
Cons:
The Ancient One. I still feel like she should have been Asian. It was jarring to see this pale Celtic woman in that world, in that position. Unlike other casting changes, I think this one actually does affect who the character is, what they represent and the location. I don’t think things would have fallen into stereotypical ideals with casting an Asian woman.
Christine Palmer. While I think Rachael McAdams is great, which she is, her character is in the same way as Jane Porter in the Thor films. Except Jane is considered a leading character, Christine has the potential to be an interesting character, the potential to be more like Claire Temple, who is written very well, but because of everything that’s happening, Christine shows up when she’s needed. So, I hope that if she’s future installments, they do better with her. I liked her enough to want her to be around more. I’m glad though, that while she’s the “love interest”, that’s not some of the reasons why Strange does things, it’s not superficial.
The Villains. Marvel Studios seem to have a hard time with their villains, Loki is still the best one, Alexander Pierce was intimidating and I think Zemo from Civil War will be great later on and no Winter Soldier is not a villain. But here we kind of have two. Just like I explained in the beginning with the LotR reference. Kaecilius is who we spend the most time with and while he’s interesting, I don’t think they really go there with him, I never found him intimidating as a character, the actor definitely is but I think the character could have been more intimidating if they fleshed him out more. We learned about him due to Mordo, Wong or The Ancient One talking about him but it wasn’t enough. Then the Sauron character… interesting but might become more important in later installments.
The Cape. This is really a nitpick but it was lopsided!! Oh my goodness, it bothered me the rest of the film. When it was on, it wasn’t balanced on both sides and I was thinking ‘am I the only one noticing this??’ not a hit against the film but O.O!!
The Storytelling. Kind of hard to label but by this mean, this story isn’t anything new. Ya know the one, arrogant dude is on top of the world, gets into an accident that ruins his life, he goes to seek out how to get his life back and ends up growing into a better man while probably now having to help save the world. So, at it’s core it’s a basic story and it’s really nothing necessarily NEW for Marvel but the package is fun which helps.
Magic Mastery. I wouldn’t necessarily use this against this film, but it’s an observation. The entire movie didn’t need to be Strange learning magic but I do think he mastered it quickly. He says he has a photographic memory (so jealous) which is fine but it just seems that he picked it up to fast. I understand that he’s smart, that he has a natural ability for magic, he’s “destined” and all that. Everything they explained in the film I understood but I wanted more of a struggle to get there, he does but I think it could have taken longer. I wonder if someone can be the hero with magic without having to actually be destined… ya know?
Overall, I think Doctor Strange is going to be a nice addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This was a good send off to the MCU’s involvement in 2016 and I can’t wait to see their next films. The characters are interesting and solid some more than others, it’s funny, it’s visually stunning, the mystical element (for an origin film) is handled well and Stephen Strange himself is an interesting and strong leading character. I think this is going into an interesting and new direction for Marvel Studios, previously the films shied away from magic, outside of Loki’s sorcery, using science and experiments as ways to propel characters and plot forward and including magic, will expand their growing universe into other dimensions. I’m excited to see what’s to come.
Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars.
P.S. There are TWO credit scenes. One mid credit and one after the credits, you need to stay for both of them.