Doctor Strange: The Bradscribe Review

Open Your Eye…

bripjeb5zbecvhnqjdpj

“It’s Strange” – Doctor Strange.

“Maybe, who am I to judge?” – Kaecilius. 

When you’re strange, faces come out of the rain.

When Bennybatch is Strange, Marvel go ALL OUT to make the fourteenth – and latest – entry in their formidable Cinematic Universe: Doctor Strange, a spectacular and one-heckuva-trippy outing. 

Straight after the new, enhanced Marvel Studios logo is unveiled, we are led on a blistering ride of energy-harnessing and reality (re)shaping.

Benedict Cumberbatch is a long way from Holmes in the role of arrogant neurosurgeon Stephen Strange, whose self-centred world comes crashing down around him after losing the use of his hands in a horrific car accident. He is advised to travel to Nepal, where answers of a mystic kind can be attained… providing he foregoes his stubborn defeatist attitude that “this material universe is all there is.”

Cumberbatch has the right look, mood and elocution to create this extraordinary character – no wonder the studio upheld production until he had completed his Hamlet sting in London’s West End!

Having got over initial reservations concerning visuals designed TOO closely to the aesthetic originally concocted for Inception and The Matrix, such scenes as soaring through the multi-dimensional vortices and the confrontation with the dread Dormammu are suitably good fun.

“Have you seen THAT at a gift shop?”

Fortunately, complementing the impressive visuals is a really snappy script: bold, intellectual, coherent and invariably humorous. 

For a handy intro to this character, see here:

cvktmgflste8nfgvdb4k

“You’re a man looking at the world through a keyhole. You’ve spent your life trying to widen it. Your work saved the lives of thousands. What if I told you that reality is one of many?” – The Ancient One. 

Much controversy centred around Tilda Swinton’s casting as The Ancient One. Changing the ethnicity to Celtic (?!) was (ahem) strange, but when you consider that the original setting for all those mystic arts was switched from Tibet to Nepal so as to appease the Chinese box office, it all becomes so painfully politically “correct.”

By the Rings of Raggadorr, the Power of Yen conquers all it seems. Business is – annoyingly, regrettably – business. 

Wong (Benedict Wong)his forever-faithful, forever-making-tea manservant from the comics – has been upgraded to Head Librarian. Amazingly, the titular role and the librarian are both played by top British thesps who share the same forename: Benedict – how strange!

Kaecilius – as noted before, is a character NOT found in the comics. Maybe he is not given as many memorable dastardly moments as we would like, but hey! The fact that it is played to sinister perfection by Mads Mikkelsen, possibly my – and your! – fave villainous character actor provides enough reason to rejoice.

And when you’re starting to wonder how this visual treat ties in with the rest of the MCU, there IS the honorary Stan Lee cameo – that is hilarious! To help bring further MCU relevance to these proceedings, Wong helpfully states:

“The Avengers protect the world from physical enemies… we safeguard it against more mystical threats.”

Too right, Wong!

j8lej6jyhdze465psqjf

whoa-marvel-s-doctor-strange-trailer-just-dropped-and-you-have-to-see-it-to-believe-it-931393

“Steve Ditko is one of the greatest Marvel artists in history… We are now able to take his trippy comic panels and have the technology to put that into big 3-Dimensional space on a movie screen… it’s amazing” – Kevin Feige. 

Okay, let’s get the most annoying problem (which applies to too many movies these days, not just Doctor Strange) out of the way first.

As is all too painfully predictable in modern cinema these days, Rachel McAdams has woefully little to do here, worryingly described as the “love interest.” As is so often, her “appearance” is reduced to insipid underdevelopment. And Stephen shows little Interest anyway. Yet again, we are left wondering what necessitated her inclusion at all…

It would have been really groovy if Martin Freeman’s American character from Cap America: Civil War had made a cameo somewhere here! Talk about opportunity missed…

Once again – as expected, Vishanti be praised! – Marvel has produced another great hit. It’s well worth checking out. Remember to stay for the post-cred scenes; BOTH are impressive – one features a cameo from one of Marvel’s well-established heroes (Hint: he does NOT like tea!)

As for me, multiple repeat viewings are assured – while you go and enjoy this one, Brad will be pleasantly coming down. Preferably with tea.

No mushrooms! Just tea. With a little honey. 

tumblr_inline_o5k26le94b1sypkn8_540

ve3yn7ciyeave60bv8gb

BRADSCRIBE VERDICT: 

4 Eyes of Agamotto out of 5 – hey, four Eyes is nothin’ ta snigger at!

Attack Of The Jones: The Rough Guide To Rogue One

NOT On Any Mercy Mission This Time…

tbexa7rzbxm8hpzmqcvc

“Where are those transmissions you intercepted? What have you done with those plans? …If this is a consular ship, where is the Ambassador?” – Darth Vader. 

Just like you, this blogger can’t wait any longer.

Ever since that very first scrawl from 1977 which read:

“…rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet” 

yours truly often wondered how that premise would make such a tense and dramatic movie.

Now, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – directed by Star Wars superfan Gareth Edwards – finally brings that mission to the big screen. With the release just two days ago of the official Trailer #2, this is a good time to shunt this Preview Prequel Post – having languished on my Dashboard for about goodness knows how many months to the forefront. 

Here are a few selected items to look out for when all is revealed in two months time: 

zhogza6qyoklvzy65zwd

“My character… he’s a scientist. [Galen Erso] at one point invented something so beautiful, so fantastic, that it might change the universe” – Mads Mikkelsen.   

As the (original) Death Star provides the pivotal element to the plot, so the key character is Galen Erso – played by the ever-multi-talented Mads Mikkelsen. 

Galen’s energy-focused research has attracted the interest of Orson Krennic who, many years before, had saved the scientist and his family from Separatist kidnappers.

Deep in Krennic’s debt, Galen works on a new project for him, unaware that he is embroiled in the ultra top secret Death Star program. 

Rogue-One-Jyn-Ersa-Geared-Up

“She’s unique. She’s different from particularly Rey in that we already know who Jyn is… It’s finding out more what her purpose and her drive is” – Felicity Jones.

Galen’s daughter: Jyn Erso must lead the seemingly-impossible mission. 

It’s a pleasantly surprising piece of casting. Fresh from her Oscar-nominated role in The Theory of Everything, Felicity Jones looks a most unlikely action/heist movie star. This is a good time to catch as her career deservedly makes the jump to lightspeed. 

Here, the rebel must become a Rebel

…with an awesome cause.

monmothma-684156

“A major weapons test is imminent” – Mon Mothma.

Leader of the Rebel Alliance: Mon Mothma dispatches Jyn and her ragtag bunch. 

Accompanying her will be Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed) described as an Imperial pilot “cos it pays well”; Diego Luna appears as Rebel captain Cassian Andor – let’s face it: this actor’s name sounds even more Star Warsthan his character’s name!; and Saw Gerrara (Forest Whitaker), first introduced in the Clone Wars animated series.

“I fear nothing. All is as the Force wills it” – Chirrut Imwe.

George Lucas (hallowed be thy name) always said that the two peasants in Akira Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress (1958) inspired the saga’s beloved droids: C3Po and R2-D2. So Rogue One comes full circle and introduces two characters played by Asian actors.

The blind monk: Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen, seated) is “a staunch believer in the Force and a fierce warrior.” He and “former assassin turned Rebel operative”: Baze Malbus (Jiang wen, standing) look like they could provide some of the movie’s coolest action sequences.

Both hail from the planet of Jedha:

rogue-one-city-768x317

“You, my friend, are all that’s left of their religion” – Grand Moff Tarkin. 

This planet is highly significant as the spiritual home of the Jedi Order. More importantly, it contains the largest quantity of Kyber crystals in the galaxy – the most vital component in the making of lightsaberes…

But is also the key element in powering the lethal superlaser of the Death Star. 

How Jedha becomes the forefront of the action in this story should make for an enthralling spectacle.

giphy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yeah! AT-ATs on the beach!

This tantalizing clip from the first trailer (on the planet Scarif) gave me the first assurance that this Star Wars story will turn out to be really gobsmackingly good. 

rogue-one-a-star-wars-story-bistan

Where would this galaxy be without its aliens?

Star Wars would not be the same without its coterie of weird and wonderful xenos, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story faithfully honours this tradition.

Can’t wait to see this fella (above).

Bishan is a tail-gunner on a Rebel U-Wing Fighter – my hunch is that we’re not going to see as much of him here as we’d like.

k-2so-rogue-one-768x322

“Kaytoo can say insulting things very casually if he thinks they’re true” – Alan Tudyk.

And where there are aliens, the droids are never far behind. 

For this mission, the Rebels have captured a seven foot Imperial security droid: K-2SO – “an enforcer and guard, hence the size and demeanor,” now reprogrammed to act as a sidekick to Rebel captain Cassian Andor.

This surly ‘bot is voiced and motion-captured by Alan Tudyk. He and Cassian: “have been together for a while, a couple years,” he continued. “He loves Cassian, because he freed him. It’s also more paternal in that [Cassian] took away the bonds of his programming.”

Well, that’s just swell!

rogue-one-general-orson-krennic

“[Director Krennic] is a different kind of Imperial villain. He is an Australian kind. We do villainy very well… He’s perhaps a little sexier than some of them…” – Ben Mendelsohn. 

Ben Mendelsohn plays Orson Krennic – the Head of Death Star security – the most visible Imperial representative we have seen thus far.

He looks set to become “a fearsome and intriguing addition to the considerable roster of Imperial bad guys.”

In addition, he’s likely to be in charge of these guys: the Imperial Deathtroopers:

star-wars-rogue-one-footage-01

So, Krennic is Head of Security + the Rebel mission succeeds in stealing the Death Star plans = that’s at least one Sith choke-hold to expect (look forward to?!)

And there’s only ONE Sith Lord we wanna see do that…

darth-vader-rogue-one-768x320

“Darth Vader! Only you could be so bold” – Princess Leia. 

And fortunately only James Earl Jones just had to commit to this movie.

What bemused me the most about the online gossip circulating this past year was the question as to whether everyone’s favourite SF villain would feature at all! Surely, there was NEVER ANY DOUBT that Vader is integral to this story?!

Here, apparently, he will be BADDER THAN EVER. Actually, it had been reported that one scene – in which Vader attacked the Rebels – turned out to be so intense, Disney ordered it to be toned down…(!)

jubilee-station-rogue-one

“I watched A New Hope every day growing up, until my Betamax tape was completely worn out, and if you’d told me that one day I’d get to direct this film, I would never have believed you” – Gareth Edwards. 

Personally, am particularly looking forward to catching the above scene.

Having waited on that platform numerous times, this correspondent can reliably inform you that it is Canary Wharf station on the London Underground. Hey City Sightseers! It’s on the Jubilee Line (the grey one).

One night last year, as soon as the last train had gone at Midnight, the crew had to get in pretty sharpish, and, as Edwards explained: “We had to set-dress the whole thing… we shot all the scenes and then had to be out by 4am. They opened the doors and all these guys in suits came in.”

Naturally, having to resist the urge to yell: “We just shot Star Wars!” proved quite considerable.

One time, standing on that platform (not long ago), it occurred to me that the station’s recent refurbishment resembled the interior of a space station…

starwars-rogue-one-trailer-uk

It’s vital to remember that this movie: “takes place just before A New Hope and leads up to the 10 minutes before that classic film begins.”

All in all, this is shaping up to be the Star Wars Prequel we’ve been looking for. 

“Anything less than extraordinary won’t do.”

new-rogue-one-poster

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens (at last!) on December 16

Strange Love: Meditating With The Master Of The Mystic Arts

Strange Days Have Found Us;

Strange Days Have Tracked Us Down…

doctor_strange_comic_art_01

“The realms of imagination are misty places to be sure, and their relationship to the… horrors of mankind have been given substance in DOCTOR STRANGE… A comic like this doesn’t come along very often… Its depth and underlying richness leaves it virtually alone in the field” – Ralph Macchio. 

By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth!

How strange! 

The top minds @ Marvel Studios have, in their infinite wisdom, deemed it imperative to give us a movie featuring Doctor Strange: one of the most unusual characters from the extensive Marvel canon.

Being a Master of Arts myself (MA Hons. Archaeology) – ha, yes! Not just a pretty face, me! – with my trusty Trowel of Destiny, yours truly is perfectly qualified to dig through the ancient tomes and extricate musty reams of esoteric knowledge to elucidate some of the best – albeit the most extraordinary – stories featuring the Sorcerer Supreme, to prepare you for the forthcoming movie. 

Created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, the character made his debut in 1964, in Strange Tales #110, with his origins tale appearing in #116. The first volume of his own series began in the 60s, but, after a poor run, it was relaunched in 1974.

Once, Dr. Stephen Strange had been “a worldly man, seduced and jaded by material things. But then he discovered the separate reality, where sorcery and men’s souls shaped the forces that shape our lives. 

“In that instant, he was born again – a man who left us behind, as he strove to stand against those wretched DC movies the unseen subtle perils hovering thick and black around our fragile existence.”

From within his Sanctum Sanctorum, defending our dimension from the kind of malevolent threats we like to pretend only exist in our worst nightmares; he is aided by copious cupsa tea specially prepared by his ever-faithful Chinese manservant: Wong. 

doctor-strange-vol-2-13

“You have saved me, Dr. Strange! I am Eternity! I am life beyond limits – beyond death – beyond end! In short, I am what you see before you: the Universe!” – Eternity.  

In recent weeks, the tale: Spawn of Sligguth (from Marvel Premiere #4, 1972) came into my eager possession. By the Flames of the Faltine! Goodness knows how, for this mini-series from 1972 seems to be extremely rare. The plot was the work of Rascally Roy Thomas and the art supplied by the Bashful Barry Smith.

The first eighteen ishs – written by Stainless Steve Englehart and drawn by Genial Gene Colan – are generally regarded as the Sorcerer Supreme’s most superlative run; so far, ishs # 6, 13 and 17 have been obtained, and their level of intellect and sophistication in storytelling is most impressive. Although the initial concept was all Ditko’s, Colan’s style enhanced the mystical nature of this material. Mere kids stuff it most certainly is not! 

Towards the end of the ’70s, Doctor Strange had become a member of the Defenders, the non-team consisting of Valkyrie and Hell-Cat. Through the tail-end of the 1970s, and into much of the ’80s as well, Roger Stern held sway.

Don’t worry if some of these classics are inaccessible in this dimension. Last year, Marvel resurrected the title and gave the “20th Century’s most powerful sorcerer” 21st Century makeover. Despite being more groovy than mystical, it is one of the more entertaining titles to emerge recently – the cover for #003 (see end image!) always cracks me up. 

For more of my magic-related comics stuff, see here: 

image-71

image-85

“One thing you have to say about Marvel is: they are not at all enslaved to the source material, but they are, I think, very good at recognising what made each particular comic great” – Scott Derrickson. 

By the Blessed Beard of Bennybatch!

How Strange… is this?! 

We are just weeks away from the latest release in Phase 3 of the Marvel cinematic juggernaut. 

Having been afflicted with the double trouble from DC/Warner already this year, my expectations for comic book movies have now hit an all-time low – a situation that grates upon me like a spell of dread Dormammu.  

But- curse me for a novice! No need to fret, Dear Friends! 

Are we not in the ever-capable hands of the mighty Marvel Cinematic Universe?! The last time they took a notable risk with such obscure material, they gave us Guardians of the Galaxy and look at how well that turned out!

From the look of the latest TV spots and exclusive clips,  the direction of Scott Derrickson appears to be quite capable. It seems most unlikely that you could get a more ideal actor than Benedict Cumberbatch to bring the Sorcerer Supreme to corporeal – and ectoplasmic – life!

To watch Sherlock shouting: “By Raggador’s Ring!” should be really fab!

The villain: Kaecilius does NOT appear in the comics, but no need to summon forth the Eye of Agametto to realise that in Mads Mikkelsen we should be assured of a well creepy turn.

May the power of the eternal Vishanti grant us a highly enjoyable outing to our respective local popcorn parlours come 4 November (or 26 October if you happen to stay on the tea-drinking side of The Pond)!

…And – Demons of Denak! – may it dispel whatever dark force that burns the back of my mind incessantly like the Crimson Crystals of Cyttorak, causing such grim foreboding at this ungodly hour. 

Speaking of tea, fancy a cuppa Jasmine?

portrait_incredible

“Eh? What…? Tea, you say? I have been deep in meditation, lost in the vapours of the Cauldron of the Cosmos, for too long… 

“My thoughts are still unfocused… But I believe a soothing cup of tea would be just what I require. You sense my needs as always, old friend” – Doctor Strange.