Tag Archives: Benedict Cumberbatch

Doctor Strange – Movie Review

Famed neurosurgeon, Dr. Stephen Strange, finds new meaning in his life when he masters of magical world of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Release Date: November 4, 2016
Writer: John Spaihts, Scott Derrickson
Director: Scott Derrickson
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams, Tilda Swinton, Chiwatel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen

Marvel Studios has finally gotten away from the traditional superhero movie and now delves into the tricky world of multi-universes, other dimension and magic. Clearly Marvel’s biggest challenge to date because any misstep can turn Doctor Strange into the hookiest piece of garbage in the Marvel Cinematic universe. Instead, Doctor Strange is an engaging and visually stunning action film with mind-bending martial arts.

Let start off by saying there is a lot to wrap your brain around with Doctor Strange. After a car accident, famed neurosurgeon Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) losing the use of his fingers and at the same time loses his whole reason to live. He becomes obsessed with healing his fingers and returning to his world of fame. Obsessed to the point that he pushes everyone away, including colleague and former lover, Christine (Rachel McAdams).

Searching for answers, he finds that Western Medicine is of no help and desperate for answers discovers Eastern Mysticism as a possible way to heal himself. He finds himself down to literally his penny in Kathmandu. He trained by fellow student, Mordo (Chiwatel Ejiofor), mystic librarian Wong (Benedict Wong) and the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton).

Strange proves himself to be a fast learner, but as always he is faced with the choice to heal his hands and return to his former life or risk it all for something bigger than himself. In this case, it’s the nefarious Kaecillius (Mads Mikkelsen) and his disciples. Kaecillius has decided that immortality is what he truly seeks and can only attain it by handing the earth over to the Dark Lord Dormammu.

Visually Stunning. Let’s just say it. Doctor Strange is a visually stunning movie. This is basically why you should see this movie, especially in Imax-3D. Everything is just cool to watch. Think of it as Inception on crack and with cool martial arts.

The first fight scene is amazing leading to a spectacular second fight scenes. This then leads to an almost impossible to believe final act, which will blow your mind. How’s that for no spoilers.

To his credit, writer/director Scott Derrickson, weaves out-of-this-world Ditko-esque images and ideas into a story that is solid and somehow manages to hold itself together. The story is clearly an origin story and the symbolisms regarding time hit you in the face like a lead brick.  Strange must come to grips with not only losing his former life, which constantly haunts him but accepting a role that may save more lives than he can ever imagine.

Doctor Strange is a smart story with amazing visuals. It manages to find itself worthy do sit among the other Marvel films. Stay for the ending.

Black Mass – Movie Review

Inspired by the true story of James “Whitey” Bulger, Black Mass is a modern day mob story proving that real life is not always as exciting as fiction.

Release Date: September 18, 2015
Writer: Jez Butterworth, Mark Mallouk
Director: Scott Cooper
Cast: Johnny Depp, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dakota Johnson, Joel Edgerton

Whitey Bulger (Johnny Depp) is one of many mob bosses in 1970’s Boston. When a childhood friend, FBI Agent John Connolly (Joel Edgerton) returns to his hometown of Boston, he brokers an alliance with Whitey and the FBI. Whitey would give up intelligence on the Italian mob in Boston, and the FBI would turn a blind eye to Whitey’s activities as long as it didn’t include drugs and murder.

Black Mass follows two paths: Bulger’s and Agent Connolly. With a deal in place, Bulger gains a higher level of confidence and power. This power turns for the worse, when his son becomes brain dead from meningitis, and his girlfriend, Lindsey (Dakota Johnson) wants to pull the plug. Bulger becomes more power hungry and more merciless.

The real story of Black Mass is that of Agent John Connolly. Assigned to his hometown of Boston, Connolly is interested in justice. But justice soon conflicts with loyalty because, as kids, Bulger protected Connolly. The FBI deal was brokered out of Connolly’s loyalty to Bulger. Connolly’s loyalty to Bulger soon becomes more important than even his job.

The main problem with Black Mass is that it is just not that interesting. Sometimes real life is not as exciting on screen as an over-the-top fictional story. There is a line that filmmakers walk between telling a true story using the actual facts and stretching the truth to make the story engaging. Black Mass serves only to document the events surround Bulger and the FBI.

We see themes that are not new to the mob genre. The most obvious is Bulger’s personal corruption from the vast amounts of power he’s given. Bulger also becomes paranoid and kills anyone who can possibly end his comfortable life of crime.

Johnny Depp is a good actor, but as Whitey Bulger it is more about the make-up and character affectation than about creating a unique character. The supporting actors also do an excellent job portraying their real life characters. One riveting moment is Bulger confronting John Connolly’s wife, Marianne (Julianne Nicholson), who chooses not to join the corrupt Bulger at a Bar-B-Que at her home. It is the tension of this moment when Bulger accuses Marianne of being rude to not only her guest but to the mobster Bulger.

At best, Black Mass is a fine docu-drama of Whitey Bulger and how he manipulated the FBI. Void of anything original or big moments, Black Mass will be just another mob movie.

The Imitation Game – Movie Review

The Imitation Game is a game of deception of sorts. Can a child imitate an adult? Can a criminal imitate a hero? The Imitation Game is the based on the true story of Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch), the man who singlehandedly created the first computer. This computer cracked the Nazi code (ending World War II years earlier). He is also a convicted criminal for the crimes of homosexuality.

Release Date: December 25, 2014
Rated PG-13
Running Time: 114 minutes
Director: Morten Tyldum
Writer: Andrew Hodges, Graham Moore
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Kiera Knightly, Mark Strong, Matthew Goode

Director Morten Tyldum tells the story of Turing at three stages of his life. We first see Turing at the latter point of his life, when his home is “robbed.” The police detective thinks there is more to Turing’s story and starts to investigate Turing as a possible communist spy. The subsequent investigation, though, reveals that Turing is, in fact, a homosexual, which at this point in the history of England is a prosecutable offense.

Feeling remorseful, the investigating officer tries to give Turing an out. It is here that Turing reveals the secret of his work during World War II. This event starts the second stage of the movie and the most prominent story of Turing. As mentioned earlier, Alan Turing created the first computer, designed to break the secret Nazi code called Enigma. The road was not easy. At this point in his life, Turing is an anti-social loner with very little people skills. He succeeds quickly to alienate himself from his colleagues and the Commanding Officer in charge of cryptology.

THE IMITATION GAMEIt is working at the base in Benchley, that Turing gets the idea of building Christopher, the code-cracking computer. His only ally is an agent from MI6 (Mark Strong). In a message to Winston Churchill, Turing manages to become the head of the project fire and couple of members and hire Joan Clarke (Kiera Knightly). Joan has to hide the fact that she’s a brilliant mathematician from her parents and the army.

The third stage of the movie is Alan Turing as a young boy in school. We find that Turing was just as much an outcast as a child as he was as an adult. Subject to constant bullying, Alan finds his only one true friend, Christopher. This friendship is deeply personal for both Alan and Christopher and as you can imagine not only defines Alan as a person, but also strengthens the shell where he will live.

The Imitation Game is a fascinating, yet tragic story of a hero. The events leading up to the breaking of Enigma has all the edge of your seat drama you need for a true story. Our hero, Turning is weird, yet sympathetic and heroic. The end of the movie turns tragic, when Turning’s work and heroism can not save him from an unjust end. So, is Alan Turing a hero or a monster?