Tag Archives: Marvel

Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange Revealed

Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange Is A Dead Ringer For Marvel’s Sorcerer Supreme

The newest issue of Entertainment Weekly has hit the stands and has the first official photo of Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange smack dab on the cover.

Cumberbatch makes for a pretty good Doctor Strange, no?

Due for release on November 4th, 2016, Marvel’s Doctor Strange will be a Marvel movie unlike any that’s come before. As superhero movies have become more mainstream Marvel has knowingly been looking to test the boundaries of what a superhero movie can be. You can see how successful they’ve been with this strategy by looking no further than 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy. The film arguably has more in common with Star Wars than the Avengers but ended up being the third highest grossing film of the year. Just beating out Captain America: the Winter Soldier which was more of a political thriller than a standard superhero movie itself.

Which leaves us with, Marvel’s Doctor Strange which is taking superhero movies into the supernatural.

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But who is Doctor Strange? In the comics before he became Marvel’s Sorcerer Supreme, Dr. Stephen Strange was a successful surgeon who had his hands severely damaged in a car accident. Desperate to regain the use of his hands, Strange traveled the world looking for any and all types of cures to repair the nerve damage in his hands which eventually lead him to the Himalayas where he was tutored by an old hermit called the Ancient One in the mystic arts. His powers amplified by the mystical amulet, the Eye of Agamotto which he wears around his neck, Doctor Strange spends most of his time fighting evil demons rather than evil businesses and world conquering organizations.

 

cumberbatch doctor strangeAs you can see, Benedict Cumberbatch’s costume is rather spot on when compared to the comic book version. The facial hair is just right and there’s even a touch of grey just above the ears in the right places. Even the powerful Eye of Agamotto is worn around his neck right where it should be. Marvel Studios really does a great job transferring the look of their characters to the silver screen with excellent casting and great costume design and Doc Strange seems to be the latest in their slam dunks.

What’s interesting is that rumors about the movie have suggested the film will do away with Strange’s origin story and start with Cumberbatch already well established as Doctor Strange when the movie begins. If you paid attention, you’ll remember there is a brief mention of Doctor Strange’s character in Captain America: The Winter Soldier as a person of interest that S.H.I.E.L.D already has under surveillance. This would seem to confirm that Strange is already doing his thing and fighting demons in the Marvel Cinematic Universe at the current time. Again, Marvel is looking to take superhero films in new directions and Doctor Strange may prove origin stories may be old and unnecessary in these times of mainstream superhero flicks.

We’ll have to wait and see as we get closer to November 4th and as more information and behind the scenes photos appear.

 

 

Fantastic Four – Review

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If I were asked to describe the latest attempt at a Fantastic Four film in one word that word would absolutely, without question, be joyless. I won’t beat around the bush here. We all knew this film was bad, but how bad was up in the air. This is a film who’s only reason for existing is to hang onto movie rights for a bit longer. It’s sad, really, to see Marvel’s first family treated with such after thought. It was as though the studio assumed that a film with Marvel super heroes is inherently great before the camera’s even begin rolling so why bother trying. Nevertheless I am a film critic so let’s get criticizing.

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Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four immediately starts off by deviating from the original origins of the titular super hero team. In this flick Reed Richards is a ridiculously intelligent youngster who’s working on a teleportation device. His partner in crime is a young Ben Grimm, who’s not nearly as bright, but fills the affable “muscle” role that he’s always inhabited in the comics. Soon after Richards teleporter is discovered, at a high school science fair of all places, by Franklin Storm, head of a brainy think tank full of young inventors and geniuses. Before you know it Reed Richards is recruited (not Ben, who’s quickly forgotten for awhile) and is hard at work finishing his teleporter with the help of Storm’s two kids Johnny and Sue. Added into the mix is the negligibly malevolent Victor Von Doom who’s motivation for doing anything is as muddy as the cinematography in this dull, dull picture. In any event the teleporter is soon finished and that’s when we’re introduced to the meddling “evil” government types who want to take the teleporter away and use their own guys to explore the mysterious (and bland) alternate dimension our young bucks have discovered. Not to be outdone these intrepid youngsters decide to teleport on their own, without parental supervision (gasp). For some reason Reed say’s he can’t go without Ben, which I imagine is about how the screenwriter felt having forgot Ben Grimm so many pages ago. Our young heroes go through the teleporter, bad stuff happens, they get super powers, they have a super hero vs super villain fight. The End.

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If it sounds like I’m over simplifying the later portions of the film I’m not. The narrative and cohesiveness of the story and characters fall apart around the same time as the lives of our young heroes do. The film sprints towards a rushed ending so quickly that the audience is in danger of whiplash every groan inducing second. No doubt the studio set it all up the way they did so they could get a sequel and start another power house franchise, but they sure missed the mark. This film can’t even claim to be a brainless action film a la Michael Bay. There’s little to no action happening. The final fight between Doom and the Fantastic Four is Reed saying out loud all the things that we the audience can clearly see are happening while each member of the Fantastic Four attempts to do something near Doom. The villain is ultimately defeated with a single punch. He tumbles back into a wormhole and that’s that. It’s exactly as exciting as it sounds.

I don’t know where to place blame here. Was it the studio? Was it the director? The actors? Nothing worked in this movie from the word go. It was a joyless slog through what felt like one film studio flipping the bird to another. I could very easily drone on and on about all the things they could have done to make the film better. There was plenty of small changes they could have implemented that could have allowed the characters to breath, to allow the narrative to excited and hold an audiences attentions, and to make the film fun, which above all else it was NOT. I can’t recommend this film in any capacity, unless you enjoy being painfully bored. Then again, we all knew it was going to be bad. Jokes on me.

Ultimate Facts: Guardians of the Galaxy

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– Guardians of the Galaxy was released on July 21, 2014.

– Runtime: 122 minutes.

– Produced by Marvel Studios.

– The film made $774.2 million on a $195.9 million budget.

– Guardians of the Galaxy was the 3rd highest grossing film of 2014.

– Guardians was also the highest grossing summer film of 2014 at the North American box office. It became the first August release to do this since box office figures were regularly tabulated in the mid-70s.

– The first MCU film not featuring Iron Man to cross $300 million in the U.S.

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Guardians of the Galaxy stars Chis Pratt as Peter Quill/Star Lord, Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer, Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Vin Diesel as Groot, and Bradley Cooper as Rocket Raccoon.

– Directed by James Gunn.

– The Avengers (2012) director Joss Whedon, who signed a deal to creatively consult on all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films, was enthusiastic about the selection of James Gunn to direct.

– James Gunn has stated several times that Rocket Raccoon was a big, if not the main reason why he wanted to make the movie. In fact, when it was confirmed that the film was a hit, Gunn put a heartfelt thank you letter online, specifically thanking everyone for letting a Raccoon make them a little more human.

– The film sets up the third phase in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, particularly Avengers: Infinity War – Part I (2018) and Avengers: Infinity War – Part II (2019).

– Director James Gunn cites Iron Man (2008) as an influence on the film: “We are starting Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This is Marvel Cosmic. And we’re doing exactly what they did with the first Iron Man film.”

– James Gunn once joked about how George Lucas heavily edited the original Star Wars trilogy for re-releases. After the release of this film, Gunn admitted he would like to go back to re-edit several scenes like Lucas.

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– Screenwriter, Nicole Perlman was enrolled n Marvel’s screenwriting program designed to develop Marvel’s properties into big screen adaptions. Out of the options given to her she picked to pen a Guardians of the Galaxy script because she loved space and science fiction stories.

– Nicole Perlman is the first woman to be credited for writing a Marvel Screenplay.

– One of the reasons Guardians of the Galaxy was made is to be a film to introduce cosmic characters into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU)

– The first non-Avengers Marvel property developed by Walt Disney Pictures.

– At the very end of the film, as the ship is taking off, you can see three suns in the distance; looking very much like silhouette of Mickey Mouse’s head.

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– According to James Gunn, the film’s soundtrack is composed mainly of 1970s-80s songs, as they are part of Quill’s memories of Earth: “The music is one of those touchstones we have to remind us that Quill is a real person from planet Earth who’s just like you and me, except that he’s in this big outer space adventure.”

– The soundtrack album “Awesome Mix, Vol. 1” reached number one on the US Billboard 200 chart, the first film soundtrack ever to reach number one without a single original song. It is also nominated at the 2015 GRAMMY Awards for Best Soundtrack.

– James Gunn reasoned that the usage of songs from the 70s would help grounding to reality and providing fun juxtaposition. In an interview, he revealed he had compiled a list of hit songs, which appear in the Billboard charts during this time, and narrowed it down to 120 to be considered for use in the film. It helped Gunn entirely throughout production, as some scenes were either filmed around the music as it played in the background, or it served as inspiration for him to write a scene around the track.

– James Gunn‘s favorite song is Jackson 5‘s “I Want You Back”, and he was delighted to get a chance to feature it in the film.

– The sales of “Hooked on a Feeling” shot up by 700 percent after the release of the film’s first trailer which prominently featured the song.

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– “Cherry Bomb” was actually played on set as the characters made their epic entrance before the final battle, to help them get into character. Tyler Bates composed the original score before the filming process began so it could be played on set to also help the actors’ performance in certain scenes.

Ant-Man Review

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I’d like to begin this review by saying, perhaps, one of the most clichéd things I can think of: big things come in small packages. Sure, it’s a dopey line, but it certainly describes Marvel’s Ant-Man. We’ve known Ant-Man was on the horizon for perhaps as long as we’ve known of the Iron Man films, and yet now in 2015 the incredible shrinking Ant-Man is finally upon us. I’ll be honest and say that Ant-Man’s productions woes, be it delayed filming windows to multiple directors swapping in and out, had me worrying about the quality of the film. Could something that’s languished so long in development hell and passed through so many hands come out on the other side no worse for wear? The short answer is yes. For the most part Ant-Man succeeds in being funny, heartfelt, action packed and most importantly entertaining.

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As Marvel has done in movies past Ant-Man is a super hero film wrapped in the trappings of another genre. The genre of choice this time is a heist film. We’re introduced to Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), a recently released from prison thief, who’s chosen by enigmatic Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his appropriately prickly daughter Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) to steal Pym’s former business partner and protégé’s shrinking suit and formula before it can be used for evil. Sounds pretty par for the course, because it ultimately is. Marvel has never really broken new ground when it comes to its plotting, but it’s never needed to. We’re given familiar story elements with a fresh coat of paint, and what a coat of paint it is. Like Marvel’s previous films this movie is packed with wit. It’s a funny, funny film. At times the humor undercuts the serious elements, or rather the serious elements undercut the humor? It’s difficult to say. We’re told very early on not to take the film and it’s happenings too seriously. Everything is done with a wink and a nudge. That’s both very good for the film as well as a detriment. Whenever the film tries to get weighty and bring us a serious dramatic beat we’re left waiting impatiently for the next one-liner. Still, those moments are few and far between and the film is paced well enough that I was never bored.

Ant-Man has a curious power. The Ant-Man suit, powered by these wacky things called Pym Particles, allows the user to shrink down to the size of an Ant. We’ve never seen anything like this from the likes of a super hero movie and that is such a good thing. The fight scenes are exciting to watch as Ant-Man switches between big and small so effortlessly that you wonder if anyone could stand a chance against such a nimble and difficult to strike target. Spoiler warning: Ant-Man even gets the opportunity to fight an Avenger in this film and the result leaves us with an admiration and respect for what this insect based crime fighter can do. Ultimately Ant-Man is just another way for a character to punch another character, but the way it’s presented is such a breath of fresh air that I can’t wait to see what they do with the character next. If reports are to be believed Ant-Man will be popping up in the next Captain America film, so if you like Scott Lang was much as I do you’ll be very happy.

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Shrinking films give filmmakers and audiences are really exciting and interesting new way to look at the world. What it small and insignificant in ordinary life is rendered with awe when you’re tiny. A shag rug becomes a forest. A toy train becomes a gigantic monolith. The macro photograph used to shown this tiny world is amazing as well. It’s a joy to see what the director, Peyton Reed, does with all this. He seamlessly switches between showing us the tiny world of Ant-Man and the mundane view of the normal sized world for comedic effect. As you’ve no doubt seen in the trailer a fight takes place on a toy train and this is one of the more exciting moments I’ve seen in recent films. It’s funny, exhilarating and had me captivated. At the end of the day this is a Marvel film. We’ve come to expect quality with Marvel and Ant-Man is right in that swing zone. It’s not the best film Marvel has produced, but it’s still a wild ride and should not be missed. See it on the big screen. You won’t regret it!

Top Ten Characters That Need To Be In The Marvel Cinematic Universe

As we all know Marvel Studios is doing the unprecedented. They have been since 2008 with the release of the very first Iron Man film. Here’s a studio with a gigantic stable of character that has not only managed to give us really fun, entertaining and well made solo pictures for their heavy hitting comic book heroes, but then turned around and brought all those superheroes together not once, but TWICE, with a numerous other multi-character outings on the horizon, in a construct their calling the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Unfortunately, as a fan of those ambitious folks over at Marvel I can’t help but be greedy. So let’s take a look at all the characters I think deserve their chance in the brilliant MCU!

Marvel vs. DC: Where’s the Justice?

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Comic books movies are big business.

Like the Hulk smashing through downtown New York comic book movies these days are breaking box office records with reckless abandon. Disney’s Avengers: Age of Ultron opened with the second highest box office weekend ever of $191,121,109, behind only it’s predecessor Marvel’s The Avengers which brought in $207,438,708 and slightly ahead of Iron Man 3 at $174,144,585. Just three years ago that record for 2nd biggest opening ever was held by another comic book movie, Warner Brother’s The Dark Knight Rises which brought in a then record haul of $160,887,295 in 2012. With these numbers why would super villains even need to rob a bank anymore? The real money these days is in the theaters not in a safe.

But not all superhero properties are created equal.

Right now there is no dispute that Marvel Studios is killing it when it comes to the development of their cinematic universe (the Marvel Cinematic Universe or MCU) Last year’s Guardians of the Galaxy was, for a time, the highest grossing film of 2014. Not an easy feat for a 3rd tier property centered around a talking tree and space raccoon. After Age of Ultron Marvel has another risky film nearing release with “little” known Ant-Man starring Paul Rudd. However, with Marvel’s recent trend of hits on it’s hand the only unknown risk from Ant-Man it seems would be how many times it makes it’s budget back.

If you want to talk about risk then look no further than the DCU (DC Cinematic Universe). Technically with only one movie within the the universe, 2013′ Man of Steel, the DCU is still in it’s infancy. In an attempt to catch up to Marvel’s huge lead and head start executives over at Warner Brothers (owner of DC comics) announced a full slate of 10 movies to spin out of Man of Steel. Batman v Superman will be their next release in 2016 with a Suicide Squad film to release later in the year.

But with the Batman v Superman trailer earning mixed fan reaction and a recent release of the full cast photo from “Suicide Squad” causing some concern, it seems like the perfect time to examine why DC and their effort to create an epic cinematic universe, is already on extremely shaky ground. What follows are five huge disappointing mistakes that DC has already made in regards to their films as opposed to Disney’s Marvel.

Avengers: Age of Ultron Trailer Exposed

There was more than one reason to watch the National College Championship the other night as Marvel Studios premiered the second trailer for their upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer. And unlike their recent Ant-Man trailer it did not disappoint. Age of Ultron is still a decent ways away as the film releases May 1, 2015 world wide, but it will be a long wait when the film looks as amazing as it does in this trailer. Some information about the film is already known, while there is still a lot that isn’t. Luckily, trailers are a good place to speculate about the upcoming as their job is to tease and entice with little snippets from the film. Little snippets that we can analyze for potential clues about the film’s plot based on what we already know.

So let’s take a look at the new Avengers trailer and see what we can learn about the new film. That said, there are some mighty big spoilers ahead so if you want to go into the film with knowing nothing at all then you best be on your way. This information isn’t for you. You’ve been warned.

 

SPOLERS AHEAD

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 1. The Great Escape

A haunting rendition of Pinocchio’s “No Strings on Me” is played out on the piano as the trailer opens amid Hawkeye leading what appears to be a prison escape. The song is important for a number of reasons. It was used more fully in the first trailer as a sly metaphor for Ultron himself. In the film Ultron is an advanced AI partially created by Tony Stark who is capable of learning on it’s own. However as the film progresses Ultron is able to break free of Tony’s initial programming, become self aware, and begin his murderous rampage to take over the world. No longer Tony’s puppet, Ultron directly quotes the song in the first trailer when he exclaims there are no longer any strings on him rather chillingly to show nobody has control over him anymore. The other reason this song is important is at the end of the day it’s a Disney song, from a popular Disney movie. It cannot be understated what a shrewd move it was by Disney execs to buy Marvel Comics years ago and the use of this song in the film shows how seamlessly the merger of the House of Ideas and the House of Mouse has truly been.

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Back to the prison escape, a lot of ragged people are fleeing through rubble towards a hole in the wall. Hawkeye waves them through to a waiting cargo or transport vessel it looks like. It could be a S.H.I.E.L.D. ship or it could be one of Stark’s ships as the Avengers may not be directly related to S.H.I.E.L.D. anymore after the HYDRA infiltration in Captain America: the Winter Solider. A girl in a black leather jacket falls down and though it’s hard to tell, this looks like the Scarlet Witch.. During the end credits of The Winter Soldier it was revealed a HYDRA leader by the name of Baron Von Strucker had captured young Wanda (Scarlet Witch) and Peter Maximoff (Quicksilver) and given them “miracle” powers. Early leaks from the Avengers script suggest the film begins with the team leading an assault on Von Strucker’s HQ and this looks to be the case here. Why wouldn’t you start the trailer with the beginning of your movie anyways? What would be better? To begin it with the end? Nope. This is the opening attack on the major HYDRA stronghold.

Marvel casts Dr. Strange

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The rumor mill had been swirling lately with the latest reports coming out of Marvel’s next big casting decision as to who would play Dr. Strange. Everybody from Joaquin Phoenix, to Ewen MacGreggor, to Keanu Reeves, to Jared Leto and even Johnny Depp. But if the latest unconfirmed reports from Hollywood are to be believed then Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch is set to portray the Sorcerer Supreme up on the big screen.

Who is Dr. Stephen Strange? According to the comic books he is the marvel Universe’s master of magic. At first a brilliant brain surgeon, Dr. Strange was involved in a horrible car accident that severely damaged the nerves in his hands. Unable to perform surgery anymore Strange searched to the ends of the Earth looking for a way to restore his damaged hands. While searching he is taught the magical arts high in the Himalayas by a hermit called the Ancient One, eventually taking over for him and becoming the Earth’s greatest master of magic.

Cumberbatch would make a great Dr. Strange. He’s a great and accomplished actor which is known but he also has that long, skinny, wiry appearance Dr. Strange is known for. All he needs is the right goatee and he’d be a dead ringer for Strange right now. Dr. Stepehen Strange was even mention quickly in Captain America: The Winter Soldier as somebody on interest S.H.I.E.L.D. was observing so this has been a long time coming. With the upcoming Dr. Strange movie Marvel is looking to spin off their recent hit of movies into other genres besides basic superhero films. If done right a Dr. Strange movie would blend traditional superhero fare with horror since Strange spends a lot of time fighting demons and the occult. I’d love to see another R rated superhero film like 1998’s Blade.

The only question now is who will be cast as Dr. Strange’s personal manservant, Wong?