“Just to Watch the Snow” Dr. Strange Review.(Spoiler Free)

Dr. Strange is exactly what we’ve come to expect from Marvel Studios. It’s got A-list actors, solid screenwriting and visual effects that can challenge any other studio. Is it without it’s faults though? Unfortunately, not quite.

This film begins by showing us an action sequence that sets the stage for the rest of the film by with wild set changes and different effects that really make this film stand out from any of the previous ones. There’s multiple points where the world basically turns into a giant kaleidoscope that is constantly changing which is honestly one of the more enthralling sequences that they’ve done since the start of the MCU.

Marvel has perfected the Origin story with films like this, Ant-Man and Iron Man.  Seeing Stephen Strange change from the arrogant Neurosurgeon to the Master of Mystic Arts was just a perfect transition and I loved that the ending of the film doesn’t leave you feeling like it’s done, Dr. Strange still has a lot of character growth and I like that instead of cramming everything in the first one we get to see just enough for the origin and the rest will be shown over future films…which are set up perfectly in the two after credit scenes. A lot of people will say that the story is a bit too linear for their taste but it never felt like more of the same for me. It is a story about a man becoming a hero and learning how to stop the villain but it’s done in a new way that was very refreshing to me and I think it will be to a lot of people.

Benedict Cumberbatch shines as the Doctor. He’s a man that you wouldn’t normally root for due to his shortcomings but you quickly fall in love with him after you see how he changes over the course of the film. His changes from an emotional and mental level happen primarily due to the efforts of The Ancient One who is wonderfully performed by Tilda Swinton. Her interactions with Strange are clearly the highlights of the film, particularly when they’re together on the astral plane towards the end of the film. It’s at this point that you realize how far Strange has come as a character and I don’t think it would’ve worked as well if it had been anybody besides Cumberbatch and Swinton.

They’re joined by Chiwetel Ejiofor as Mordo, a contemporary for Strange after he joins with them at Kamar Taj. Ejiofor delivers a solid performance here and it’s to be expected from this oscar-caliber star. In fact, one of the few issues I have with this film is that it needed a bit more of him but there’s always time for him in the sequels.

Mads Mikkelsen plays Kaecilius, A sorcerer who has defected from the Ancient One’s teachings and begun to seek out an opportunity to gain more power elsewhere. Mikkelsen does very well in this role, but he remains downplayed throughout much of the film and that’s really my main issue with this film : the villain is good, could be great. I know I’m a little nit-picky but that’s the point of the review.

Last but not least Benedict Wong plays Wong, who is the stoic librarian. Unfortunately, talking more about his character would spoil some of the films better scenes but just know that he, the cloak of levitation and any scene involving the astral plane are all scene stealers that will surely go down as some of Marvel’s best moments.

Why the Disney Buyouts were Brilliant.

Disney has been a huge part of my life and they’ve always been a company that has supported the idea of films for everyone to enjoy. Prime Example : Show Mary Poppins to a six year old and they’ll laugh at the dancing penguins, show it to a sixty year old and they’ll cry during “Feed The Birds.” That’s the power of Disney and that’s why this article exists. Naturally throughout almost 80 years of films there will be a few duds. To get to the brilliance of Frozen and Zootopia you had to get through things like Herbie : Fully Loaded and Flubber. Now, I might be stepping on some toes due to what I just said but that’s the interesting part; even films that aren’t great have a following because of a nostalgia factor, which is something else that Disney thrives on. But aren’t most of these films targeted towards a family setting? Why should you enjoy the Marvel and Star Wars buyouts? Well that’s what this article is for.

Let’s go about this chronologically : Around 2006 or 2007 Marvel realized that the characters they owned made up the main members of the Avengers. So, they decided to try and make their own film studio to gain complete creative control over what they were making but they knew they would need a solid backing company and they would need to show what they could do. So, Kevin Feige made some major moves to make this a reality such as : getting Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Focusing an entire film on the World War II origin of Captain America and getting Joss Whedon to do the biggest film of the entire project. As we know, it paid off and everything worked out really well. But where does Disney fit in? Well, After the massive success of the Iron Man, Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor and Captain America : The First Avenger, Disney decided to buy the company in a merger and allow them to create Marvel Studios. Avengers was the first film to officially be created under Marvel Studios and it’s been going strong ever since.

Marvel wanted to create their own studio because they wanted to show that they could make films that were by comic fans and for comic fans that could still appeal to the wider audience. Obviously it worked because we just recently were given Civil War and it was easily one of the greatest examples of why the Marvel Cinematic Universe is close to perfect. Now if we could just get the X-Men in there…another problem for another time.

Now what about Star Wars? Well that story is a bit different but it has a very similar ending. Basically Disney bought Star Wars in 2012 and immediately began preparations for a new series of films. It had been 29 years since the original trilogy and 8 years since the prequels. In that time we had different areas of Star Wars such as The Clone Wars cartoon, multiple comic book series(Done by Dark Horse) and multiple books series which were all a part of the expanded universe. Now, here’s where the divide happened : When Disney bought the company with the intention of making a new series of films and books they said that most of the expanded universe were no longer part of the canon(Considered to be part of the main story) and that really upset a lot of people and to an extent I can see where they’re coming from. Imagine that you’ve spent 20 years reading these books and following these characters and really enjoying the stories only to be told that they never mattered. I can see where they’re coming from but they’re still getting more Star Wars movies and I’ve never heard an official word on if the books set before the films were or were not canon. Many of the books which were now useless were good but there were quite a few that weren’t and I don’t blame Disney for wanting to make their own stories because of it. There was one factor that left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths though and that was George Lucas.

When Lucas signed the company over he initially seemed pretty cool about everything, he was getting older and wanted to allow a new generation to take over but then after the new film came out he went on and said that Disney was awful to him. This would’ve upset me due to Disney kicking him out until he said “They wanted to do something for the fans and i just wanted to tell a story”…Now, I have to make a statement about this because I understand artistic vision but I also understand being selfish. When you put something out there, it’s not 100% yours anymore. It becomes something else entirely and you have to understand that there has to be a balance between what fans want to see and what you want to create. This was one of the biggest problems with the prequels which didn’t focus on fan wants at all and instead forgot everything about the basic structure of a story. These are my issues with George Lucas.

Since Disney has taken over we’ve received one fantastic entry in the main saga, 2 really good seasons of Rebels, a plethora of books which were critically acclaimed and a few different comic series which have been some of the best that Marvel has been publishing. This leads me to believe one thing, that Disney knows what they’re doing. Many people made jokes saying that Disney was going to make it too kid friendly but as we’ve seen : 1. Darkness doesn’t always equal greatness. (See: Revenge Of The Sith, Punisher : War Zone, Spawn, Batman V. Superman : Dawn Of Justice.) 2. Disney can maintain a solid balance of light and dark. It’s one of their best traits and I knew that they would knock Star Wars out of the park.

In conclusion, there is a definite difference in Pre-Disney Marvel and Star Wars and I stand by the fact that it only got better after the fact.

Know why? Because we can get pictures like this:

If you don’t know why that’s awesome then you need awesome lessons.

Agree? Disagree? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

What to Expect from Spider-Man: Homecoming

So now that we’ve seen Tom Holland as our new MCU Spider-Man (spoiler alert, he’s spectacular), the rumors have been flying about his upcoming solo movie, Spider-Man: Homecoming, a title that just exudes Marvel’s fun sense of self-awareness. Set to come out next year in July—the seventh, to be exact, if you want to be like me and mark your calendars and set up countdowns on your electronic devices—the movie hasn’t really released a ton of information about its plot or the comic book sources it may or may not be drawing from. Thus, rumors have gone everywhere from a weird pseudo-adaptation of The Clone Saga to an entirely new story straight from the MCU. As an avid Spider-Man fan, I can’t help but dive into these rumors and unsubstantiated claims and voice my opinions. Seeing as I am an admin on a genre-based blog, you all get to read these ramblings! So let’s look at some of the rumors and wishes circulating around our new web-slinger.

Kraven’s Last Hunt

This is a storyline that fans of Spider-Man have been clamoring for since Toby Maguire was under the mask, even though reports leaked in years past have shown that Morbius was a more likely villain for Raimi’s fourth entry than Kraven. And as a huge fan of DeMatteis’s story, I am personally holding out for a Kraven appearance in the years to come under the MCU. But let’s be honest here, folks: Kraven’s Last Hunt makes absolutely no sense for a year one Spider-Man.

Kraven's Last Hunt

Join with me in hypothesizing this proposed idea for a movie: for the first Spider-Man entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Kevin Feige is going to introduce a villain never before seen in a movie, let him apparently kill the titular hero and steal his identity, and then have (in cinematic terms) a rather anticlimactic ending with Spider-Man fighting an entirely different tier-3 villain as the aforementioned bad guy commits suicide. You are gonna have a lot of confused people in that theater. Even if MCU writers mix things up with the storyline, the whole idea of Kraven’s Last Hunt is that it is a climax from the other encounters that Spider-Man has had with him in the past. It’s the conclusion to big life phases for both Kraven and Peter alike. Making it into Kraven’s First and Last Hunt loses the real meaning of the story and just doesn’t make sense. Maybe for Spider-Man three or four. But not for year one.

Remake Raimi’s Spider-Man (How Green was My Goblin!)

A lot of the ideas for Marvel’s new Spider-Man franchise surprisingly circles around remaking older movies. While this idea makes a bit of sense—there’s perhaps no villain more essential to Peter’s history than the Green Goblin—we have already gotten three different Goblins since Raimi’s first entry. The villain, while undoubtedly will be seen soon enough in the MCU, needs some time off, and I doubt Marvel wants to associate itself so closely with any memories of the Sony franchises. We do know that Michael Keaton has been approached to possibly play a villain in Homecoming, and he would make for an excellent Norman Osborn, but I for one have serious doubts that he will be the main baddie in the movie or that he will even have his villainous origin this early in the game. There’s just too much baggage from Sony that Marvel is trying to avoid.

Birth of Venom

Story-wise, this rumor makes the most sense for inspiration. While not taking place in year one Spider-Man lore, the Birth of Venom could pretty easily be modified to fit as a first big bad for a young Spider-Man. The presence of Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 just a couple of months before Homecoming even gives Marvel a chance to briefly introduce the existence of symbiotes in the universe, leading into one ending up on Earth due to the abundance of alien presence on our planet over the years in the MCU. Introducing Eddie Brock (quick plug for my fan-casting of Tom Hardy) as a reporter for the Daily Bugle, Peter’s new part-time job, offers a good opportunity to give fans a villain they’ve been asking for while not forcing an ill-fitting storyline. Add Michael Keaton as Norman Osborn in the background, and you have the groundwork for a Spider-Man mini-verse. If Marvel does use an existing story as inspiration, this one is probably the most likely.

The Death of Jean DeWolff Death of Jean Dewolff

I’ll be honest, this is my own personal rumor that I am officially starting. For anyone who has read a lot of Spider-Man—and I mean a LOT of the comics—this story sticks out to you as the moment you start to wonder if Spidey is going to actually kill someone. Go read the story for yourself; it is absolutely fantastic and stands as one of my personal favorite comic books arcs of all time. I like the idea of Homecoming being inspired by this story because it gives the MCU the chance to do a lot of new things: the tone of Spidey hunting down a serial killer could offer a crime thriller tone new to Marvel movies, it could introduce the Netflix TV universe by bringing in Kingpin and Daredevil like the comic book story, and it could give Marvel the chance to set Spider-Man apart in the cinematic universe as being the hero who doesn’t kill despite being pushed to his limit by the Sin Eater. While this is probably a long shot for Homecoming, I am going to remain hopeful we see this storyline down the road either as a future Spidey movie or as a subplot in a future season of Daredevil.

Spider-Man: Blue

This is my favorite Spider-Man story, and it would definitely make for an interesting movie. The idea is that Gwen Stacy is already dead by the time Civil War takes place; thus, Homecoming would be a set of flashbacks for Peter as he details what he has done up to now. This would show some scenes of him fighting the Green Goblin, meeting Mary Jane, encountering Eddie Brock (again, cast Tom Hardy!), hanging out with Harry Osborn, and getting into tussles with several members of his rogues gallery. Peter narrates all of this as he stands talking to Gwen’s grave, ending in a flashback to Death of the Stacy’s and a final farewell message to the girl he loved but could not save. Again, this would be a different type of movie style that Marvel could try to add variety to their roster, and it would be a fitting metaphor for Spider-Man saying goodbye to a former presence in his life—Sony—and hello to his new companion, the MCU. Again, a bit of a long shot, but intriguing nonetheless.

The Clone Saga

Stop. Just Stop.

A Totally New Story

This will probably be what we get, and I am totally fine with that. While Marvel has always drawn some inspiration from the comics in their movies, they have also definitely not been afraid to play with canon a little bit to make a unique adventure (see Civil War, Iron Man 3, and Winter Soldier as primary examples). Michael Keaton is tagged to play someone, and the popular theory is the Vulture. For the life of me, I cannot name one big Spider-Man story that features Vulture in anything more than a side role. But hey, I’m down to see what they do! Marvel is in an interesting position: Sony has already done a lot of groundwork over the years to set up Spider-Man’s world. People have a pretty good idea of who Norman and Harry Osborn are, and at least some idea of Peter’s love interests (Gwen and MJ). We have also seen the death of Uncle Ben far too many times, so no need to rehash that. Marvel gets a rare opportunity to introduce a character who has already been introduced, letting them do whatever they want with a year one story. Let’s see what they do!

Whatever it is, please Marvel, for the love of God, no more sidewalk dancing.

-Admin Red Lanyard

“I Remember all of them” Civil War’s Perfect Finale

*I can’t stress enough my major spoiler warning for this article. I will most likely be talking about every important thing that happens in the last 30 minutes of Captain America : Civil War.*

You’ve Been Warned.

As I’ve already said in my actual review, I loved this movie…so why write another article talking about it? Well one reason is that it’s worth it but the main reason is that I couldn’t talk about the fantastic finale. I believe it to be the greatest finale of any superhero film. Yes, I know what that means…better than Iron Man 3…better than The Dark Knight…better than The Avengers. I understand that many of you already think that such heretical thoughts should never be written but hear me out on this.

Civil War was the culmination of 11 different films(12 if you count Guardians Of The Galaxy). Marvel had built these characters up in a way that humanized them and made us fall in love with them. No matter how old you were or where you came from there was a certain magic whenever you saw the 6 Avengers in that line-up or when Winter Soldier caught Cap’s Shield or when Hawkeye made his speech about “If you step outside those doors, you are an Avenger.” Marvel had made these characters leap off of the page and most importantly in this case…set up the friendship between Steve Rogers and Tony Stark. They’re not old friends with each other like they are with Bucky Barnes or James Rhodes, they’re not contemporaries like Sam Wilson or Bruce Banner but they are the two leaders of this team that want to do what’s right. Steve and Tony both reinvented themselves to become the heroes they are, they’re both heroic outside of their alter-egos and they both suffer from severe trauma and loss. So what would cause these two men to fight?

Unfortunately, their own heroics is the cause of it. The battle against Ultron in Sokovia has made many people throughout the world view the Avengers as a group that brings nothing but destruction wherever they go. So the government comes up with a solution: The Sokovia Accords. Basically they want to make the Avengers a team that is sanctioned and controlled by the United Nations. Tony is all for this because he wants to protect people as much as he can. Steve is against this because he doesn’t want to be told when he can save people and he realizes that if someone does get hurt then all it’s going to do is shift blame to whoever gave the orders.

This is enough to cause a split between the two factions. Some of the Avengers are for it and some are against it. The initial fight is gradually built towards from here including the return of the Winter Soldier and the introductions of Black Panther and Spider-Man. I’m skipping over a lot to get to the finale so forgive me for that, I’m not exactly sure when the fight takes place time-wise but it is absolutely brilliant. It’s a 6 Vs. 6 match-up that we’ve waited to see since the first Avengers film and it’s finally happening. The reason this fight works is because it’s been set up so well and because it doesn’t get boring, we see scene after scene of superhero action for a solid 15 minutes and it’s still incredibly entertaining. I also love that they’re not trying to kill each other or anything Steve is just trying to catch up with Zemo and stop him and Tony is just trying to bring Steve in. The fight ends with Vision accidentally shooting down War Machine and severely wounding him while Steve and Bucky get away on a quinjet.

This is where the last 20-30 minutes become flawless. After making sure that Rhodey is safe, Tony goes to the raft, a prison for superpowered beings and speaks to Hawkeye, Ant-Man and Falcon. Scarlet Witch is basically catatonic when we see her, presumably due to the fact that Strucker kept her and her brother in cells and now she’s back in one. Hawkeye kind of steals the show in this part because he gets to take Daredevil’s part from the comic, he’s so angry with Tony and Renner pulls it off perfectly. Falcon tells Tony where Steve was heading because Tony finally believes him about Zemo and just wants to help him.

Once they all end up in Siberia, they realize that Zemo’s plan wasn’t what they thought and he shows them a video, a video of the Winter Soldier killing Tony’s parents. This showcases phenomenal performances from Stan, Downey and Evans. The battle between the three starts and it’s incredible. It has some great action moments but it’s the drama behind it that makes it perfect. The title of this article refers to one of my favorite lines

Tony : “Do you even remember them?”

Bucky : “I remember all of them”

This is some incredibly clever writing because we get everything we need to know about Bucky right there. He feels remorse and anger over the fact that he was nothing but a weapon for over 60 years.

While this is going on, Black Panther has followed them and he has learned that it wasn’t Bucky who killed his father, but Zemo. He tracks down Zemo, who explains that he lost his entire family in the Sokovia attack and that he planned to destroy the Avengers but how could he if Ultron and Loki couldn’t? He broke them from within. Zemo is the most underrated part of this movie. He’s manipulative and patient, which is terrifying. He has a definitive reason for hating the Avengers and his story works perfectly as the backdrop to the accords. He wasn’t just a recreation of the hero and he wasn’t just someone else to beat in a punching contest. He was fantastic and he’s also the only villain to win.

This leads to Black Panther’s shining moment where he “Won’t let revenge consume me” and instead of allowing Zemo to kill himself, he stops him and captures him.

Meanwhile you have one of the most brutal fights I’ve seen in a superhero film, Bucky gets his arm blown off, Steve is beaten bloody and Tony is just an emotional wreck and you can’t really blame any of them. Of course the now classical gut wrenching line is in there of :

Steve : I’m sorry Tony but he’s my friend.

Tony : So was I.

It honestly carries even more weight in the actual scene. The fight ends at a standstill and Steve and Bucky leave with Tony just lying there on the ground.

It ends with Tony returning to The Avengers compound and with steve breaking his team out of the raft. Tony receives a letter and a phone in the mail, the letter is Steve apologizing for the way things went down and saying that if they ever need him then he’ll be there.

It’s such a perfect ending and I love that this film hits every major point you need from a Superhero film. It still has it’s fun moments and it’s action moments but it’s a film that deals with accountability and remorse for your actions. It ends on a higher note than the comic and for me, it’s actually a better note to end on. Everything about this film balances well and it shows especially in it’s perfect finale.
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“Whose side are you on?” Captain America : Civil War Review

Last night, I felt like a kid again. I really did. I haven’t been this happy about a film since Star Wars : The Force Awakens and I can’t even remember the last one before that. Civil War is what films can be and what they should be. Now, I didn’t just say superhero films, I mean all films. The Russos, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeeley and Kevin Feige have crafted something that is absolutely amazing.

I’m going to do my best to make this a coherent review and not just me fanboying about it for an entire article. I’m just going to go subject by subject on it.

Story

The story in this film is incredibly Air-Tight. Markus and McFeely have done it again, every point happens in a way that it needs to go down and nothing was left unanswered. My cousin asked me something about the finale and I explained it to him about what the villain did just a few minutes prior, if you’re staying focused then this film will explain everything that it needs to and the questions that are left will surely be answered in the near future.

Many of you should know that the original Civil War comic is one of my favorites. It was the first comic that showed me that these stories weren’t just for kids. They had pathos and rich storytelling surrounding these phenomenal, classical characters and this film is no different. It handles the source material well in a way that every screenwriter needs to study for future adaptations. No character felt left out, even characters who had limited screen-time like Vision, Ant-Man and Hawkeye all have prominent roles to play and you don’t feel cheated at all.

On the other end of that spectrum, the film never feels cluttered or preachy which were two factors that I had mild concerns about going in. Instead, we got an adaptation that wasn’t scene for scene straight from the comic but we got to see the ideas of Civil War placed into the grander overarching story of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I think that this was the right play, we still got many of the great scenes from the comic and it’s tie-in issues and we got a moral conflict where no matter who you side with on the subject you can still see that both of the men just want to do what they think is right. In the original comic they set up the main characters in a more black and white setting with Captain America as the hero and Iron Man as the villain. This isn’t to say that Iron Man wasn’t still a sympathetic character in the comic…he just didn’t really feel like that until Civil War : The Confession came out. In the film, you can see both sides a little easier and for me, it made it even better than I expected.

Acting

As I said above, no one was cheated in this movie. Every character had at least one great memorable scene and of course there are a few standouts. Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. have been working towards this over 7 films and it shows. They are at their prime in these roles and I never want them to stop playing these characters. Sabastian Stan’s return as the Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes is well worth the wait, he has some great moments particularly with Chris Evans and Anthony Mackie. Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow never ceases to amaze me, if she doesn’t get her own movie soon then I will be incredibly upset.

The true standouts of this film were Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther and Tom Holland as Spider-Man. Their solo films are setting up to be absolutely phenomenal.

Boseman was great from the moment we see him as T’Challa the ambassador to when we first see him in the Black Panther armor. He can be regal and kingly in one scene and then switch to wild and vicious the next.

Holland brings an energy to the character of Peter Parker that you could only get from someone who is clearly having the time of their life on set. He’s a perfect balance of being occasionally awkward but always fun when he’s on screen.

Direction

The Russos have a vision that is exceptional and a big part of why it’s great is you can see that they have a reverence and love for the source material. They love these characters and this universe and they only want to make it bigger and better with every outing. I can’t wait to see what they’re going to do with the next Avengers films.

Their fight scenes are as tight as you can get them. Everyone has a very distinct fighting style that showcases their powers and abilities in ways that remain entertaining and exciting. It never becomes dull and even after seeing it twice there were things that I kept picking up.

Overall

It’s clear that Marvel knows what they’re doing, they’re making films for fans because they themselves are fans. I love what this company is doing with their stories across all mediums and judging from what I’ve seen it’s only getting better from here.

Make Mine Marvel.