Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Doctor Strange Review


All right, I got to see the latest big Marvel film! As we inch closer to the long awaited Infinity War, it makes sense to bring in a heavy hitter like Doctor Strange. He will certainly come in handy for the big fights since he is already one of the stronger members on the team. Considering that he has only just begun to learn the mystical arts, he’ll only get stronger from here. This is definitely a solid film and ranks pretty well compared to the other MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) films. I’ll have a list of them from best to worst below.

All right, lets dig into the plot! Doctor Strange was a very successful surgeon. He may have even been the world’s greatest. Unfortunately, he gets into a car crash and his hands are severely damaged. To bring them back to working condition, he heads to the mountains to learn from The Ancient One, who healed a patient in a similar condition. It turns out that she used magical abilities and now Strange can learn these as well. The catch is that Strange will now find himself in the middle of a war between light and dark. Can he help defend the universe or will Strange return to his normal life?

Even before we get to Strange actually becoming adept at using magic and fighting off the villains, the film is pretty fun. I liked Strange quite a lot back in his confident days. You see how he isn’t very heroic as he doesn’t help those who may not make it through the day. Strange was in it for the publicity, but at least he was still helping people. He did it for the wrong reasons, but it could be much worse. I was a little surprised at just how rich he was, but surgeons do make quite a lot of money and if you’re the world’s best..then it makes sense that you’d be rich. I’d call this part the prologue and it’s fairly short. The scenes all go by very quickly and maybe that’s part of why it was fun. It doesn’t drag on, but still lasts long enough for you to get a general feel for how the situation was for Strange and his colleagues.

The action scenes after that certainly live up to the hype. Strange and the other magicians all fight using more of a Green Lantern style than Harry Potter. They use magic to create energy weapons to fight with and can also alter the landscape around them during battle. Magic seems to be able to amp up their physical abilities like in Psyren as well since we see Strange jump long distances and land without injury. His super cape also allows him to fly. This is definitely how I can picture some of the Green Lanterns battling when sparring with each other. Strange’s magic is limited only by his imagination so he can come up with a lot of good weapons.

Since Strange is a genius, he is also able to learn the spells at a rapid pace. He even becomes adept at time spells, which is very handy in a fight. Sure, it can mess with the time stream, but it’s still worth using since it can help the heroes out when they’re in a pinch. With the abilities he showed here, I’d put Dr. Strange ahead of all the Avengers in a fight except for possibly Vision, Thor, and Hulk. Strange’s one weakness seems to be that he’s rather slow..the curse of all spellcasters. He can fly, which helps to make up for that and he can bring his spells up a lot faster than good ole Harry Potter, but it will still be tough to do in time against a speedster. For the Hulk, the problem is that most of his spells probably wouldn’t do much damage to him at the moment. Considering that Strange still has room to improve while the others do not, the tables could turn very quickly. As it is, I consider him to be pretty close to the others. Ms. Marvel should claim 1st easily if she’s handled accurately though.

As I mentioned earlier, Doctor Strange is a great character and the best one in the film. He is certainly charismatic and will remind you of Iron Man. With Iron Man getting mellowed out in his old age, Dr. Strange could become the most charismatic in the MCU. We’ll just have to see if being sorcerer supreme also makes him “wiser” and he loses some of that fiery spirit. Hopefully not! The Ancient One is another one of the big characters here. She’s the mentor figure in the film…and well….we’ll see if you know what that means for her. Regardless, she’s a good character but tends to be a little too cryptic. A few more direct words would have helped clear up some of the major misunderstandings. Perhaps she was just too full of herself or simply thought that she could handle whatever troubles arised. She was fairly tough and was shown to be a more capable fighter than the others. At this point, she is probably still a little stronger than Strange as well. It’s just always going to be tough when you’re outnumbered.

I can’t say that I liked Mordo, but granted, I knew where things were going thanks to the comic. I didn’t expect the road to be traveled so quickly, but here we are. His magic boots are definitely a handy tool to have. I’ll take the cloak personally since it gives auto defense as well, but the boots help Mordo be an aerial fighter. He doesn’t get a whole lot of action here so that’ll probably be more in the sequel. It’s hard to take him seriously as a threat, but a good power up can go a long way.

Christine is the main heroine of the film. As always, I thought that the romance was rather weak and unnecessary here. She wasn’t a bad character though and while she didn’t take the supernatural aspects particularly well, few characters do. Usually, a character only takes it well if it’s a comic relief moment and that wasn’t going to happen here. Christine does give us one of the jump scares in the film so that was neat. I’m hoping that she gets some powers for the sequel since that would help her out quite a bit.

Kaecilius is the main villain and he won’t be the next Loki. He’s essentially Malekith 2.0 or any other average baddy. He wants to destroy the world. That’s basically his only goal. I think one of the reasons why he doesn’t work so well is that this guy has been a disciple of the magical arts for ages. He’s one of the strongest warriors and yet….Doctor Strange is able to give him a good fight and overpower the guy in his very first skirmish. Despite everything that happens afterwards, it sort of destroys the hype around the guy. He’s not a bad villain though and I like him more than Mordo, but there just isn’t much to him.

Now, Dormammu is a solid villain. I didn’t really like the design that he got in this film, but the personality is still intact. When Strange makes his move, Dormammu does his best to keep doing what he does best. His attacks are definitely cool looking and his power is certainly treated with a lot of respect. I don’t see him getting a large role anytime soon as a result, but it was certainly nice to see him. There are some other nice tributes here like the Staff of the Living Tribunal, which pops up. That guy is an interesting figure in the comics as he is supposed to be one of the most powerful beings in the multiverse. I always took that with a grain of salt and believe that the staff proves this. It wasn’t able to break a simple conjured staff. I do want it to appear more in the sequels though as it leads to a lot of questions. Is the Living Tribunal dead? I wouldn’t be surprised, but seeing him and the other big Marvel abstracts on the big screen would be pretty awesome.

It almost goes without saying, but the effects are really good. The scene where Strange is launched into the magic world and the colors start going crazy is certainly the best example of this. I definitely enjoy seeing visuals like that and there is a lot to take in. All of the fight scenes are visually a blast as well. I am confident that the Dr. Strange films will be able to keep this up and it’ll be cool to see it transfer over to Strange’s other films as well. He’ll certainly be returning sooner than later. I can’t really say that the soundtrack was all that memorable though. I forgot most of the tunes right away, but they fit the scenes well enough.

There are two after credit scenes in this film so make sure that you stick around for them. They are the best scenes that we have gotten in quite a while and the first one in particular is a lot of fun. It definitely has a lot of promise and while it wasn’t the Spider-Man, Thor, Dr. Strange, and Ms. Marvel teaming up against Thanos cliffhanger that you may have been expecting, we can be confident that this will be happening soon. The second scene is a little more grim and you’ll definitely feel bad for person X because of what person Y does to him, but it also helps lead into a film and tries to legitimize a threat. Both are important and aren’t filler, which is huge since that has been my problem with some of the other scenes from past films.

Time for that MCU list! There aren’t as many films as in the Godzilla franchise so I won’t be using as many tiers since it would just spread them out needlessly. There will only be three tiers instead. The films that are easily a cut above the rest, the films which are all more or less at around the same level, and the ones that are easily weaker. Lets go!

S. Avengers, Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: The Winter Soldier
A. Doctor Strange, Thor 2, Guardians of the Galaxy, Iron Man 2, Thor, Iron Man, Iron Man 3, Hulk
C Captain America, Ant Man

You should account for recency bias here as the theater effect typically makes a film stand out even more than usual for a few months. That being said, I do think Doctor Strange is a solid enough film to keep this spot for a while and if anything it just speaks to how Marvel has been able to keep up the quality and even improve upon it.

There are certainly a lot of other things to talk about here, but I’m trying to keep this movie completely spoiler free so I’ll have to let them go for now. One thing that I will say is that Strange has a good point about how warnings for spells should be written before the spells. One of the “crimes” that he commits isn’t even that bad if you ask me. It’s always a moral dilemma about how you should wield this fundamental force of nature and it’s too big to tackle in a paragraph, but if you can use it, then you probably should. I think it may play a big role in Infinity War if the Avengers aren’t quite ready for Thanos in the initial confrontation. You can’t even call it a Deux Ex Machina since it is already established and isn’t as easy as snapping your fingers. It would likely only be able to be used once so they wouldn’t have infinite shots. That’s enough hints on that though.

Oh yeah, I should probably just put this out there. Doctor Strange could easily beat Harry Potter and Voldemort in a fight. It’s not even close. In his very first fight with absolutely no prep time, Doctor Strange was able to take on 3 skilled opponents at once. (Probably the best fight scene in the film) Harry wouldn’t have been able to take any of them on. Being able to use spells while also fighting is a skill that will let Strange beat most other opponents. That’s another reason why I liked Strange. He didn’t want to join in the war, but when the fight came to him, he made sure to finish the job and take out his opponents. His only real misstep was snapping at Christine and just watching as the Ancient One was triple teamed. Seriously, he probably should have stepped in or tried to do anything. That would have been very helpful. I’m sure that he won’t panic like that again though and he’s still a rookie (Relatively. Astral Projections eliminate the need for sleep so he’s gotten to improve at triple speeds or more) As far as protagonists for Marvel go, Doctor Strange is probably the most likable one, with Tony Stark being second and maybe Cap being third. Cap’s gotten more likable over the last few films.

Overall, Doctor Strange is another solid installment to the MCU. I’d consider it to be one of the best Marvel films that they’ve put out. It works really well as a stand alone, which is rare for a film this late in the game. It’ll make Strange’s appearances in other films all the more special as he’ll already have had his character development and it will make the film feel more like a crossover. This film balances the more comical aspects with the serious ones pretty well and I’d say that it did a much better job of it here than Age of Ultron. The latter went a little too far with the comedy at some points. The moving buildings angle made for some really fun fights and this is what Thor: The Dark World should have done with Malekith. The fights in Doctor Strange were gimmicky, but still had a lot of action and you couldn’t say that they weren’t fighting. On the contrary, someone was always on the offensive in the fights and it just meant that they had to concentrate on multiple things at once. Magic is such a great ability to have. I certainly recommend checking this film out and then we’ll see if Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and Spider-Man can hold their own against this film. It’s certainly going to be tricky, They’re dooooooomed but if there’s anything we’ve learned about comic book films, it’s that you can’t count them out. After all, Civil War actually made Black Panther a likable character and was able to get me on Team Iron Man for once. Both of those were things that I didn’t think were possible.

Overall 8/10

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Comic Reviews, Comics, Reviews

World War Hulk Review

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I remember this arc when it first came out. There was a lot of hype around it and I still consider the plot to be one of the best concepts from all Marvel events. Only Civil War may be able to top it. Nothing beats a good Heroes vs Heroes story, but one that comes close is when the hero turns evil and decides to destroy the heroes. It’s sort of like the Doomsday story in the comics as Superman has a long monologue about what would happen if he finally met a villain that he couldn’t defeat. It’s a story that has a lot of potential. World War Hulk doesn’t live up to all of it sadly, but it’s still a fun comic.

As mentioned, the plot is very simple. The Hulk was shot into space and deserted to die on a planet full of gladiators and aliens. He managed to survive and lived a happy life there, but then his rocket ship came back into orbit and crashed on the planet, destroying everyone on the planet. The Hulk blames the Illuminati for placing the bomb on the rocket and he has now returned to Earth to destroy them and make the Earth suffer for what has happened. All of Marvel’s heroes will have to set aside their differences if there is any hope of stopping the Hulk.

It should be noted that the Hulk picked a great time to launch this attack. For starters, Thor isn’t around at the moment, which takes away a really large threat right from the start. Also, the Civil War is still raging on at the moment or at least the post effects so the heroes have to reluctantly work together at the risk of being arrested. Yes, this is definitely the Hulk’s moment of glory and the heroes may not know what hit them! It should be noted that some heavy weights like Ghost Rider and the X-Men are noticeably absent, but they end up fighting the Hulk in tie-in issues. It’s too bad that they weren’t included, but I did review the X-Men one a while back.

If you wanted a comic with nonstop action, then this is definitely the one to check out. The 5 issues are basically showing the Hulk take down the Avengers, Fantastic Four, and all of the loners who tried to join the fray. Even the military stood no chance against the Hulk. Granted, The Hulk had about 5 teammates known as the Warbound who are apparently about as strong as the Hulk pre rage. That’s a lot of hype for those guys, but they did manage to defeat Spiderman (Off screen naturally……he never gets any respect in the modern comics!) so I suppose that they lived up to their reputation.

The Hulk has never been madder than he is now so his power is really skyrocketing. By the end of the comic, he starts to grow so powerful that he could have destroyed the Earth with a single stomp. That’s some insanely good strength. Naturally, Hulk is a total villain here who only cares for revenge. It’s a motive that works for most villains so why not for him right? He’s not mindless here by any means and he just believes that the Avengers need to pay for their crimes of genocide. An eye for an eye is his strategy. It’s been a while since we saw the Hulk portrayed as a villain so that was neat. He even uses his intelligence to trick Dr Strange at one point since he’s totally in control here. You have never seen a more deadly Hulk.

The Sentry’s role in this is also quite big as he gets hyped up right from the start. One problem that you may have with this is the fact that everyone acts like the Sentry and Hulk are best friends. Since when right? The Sentry is also a little insane and completely unlikable, but you still have to respect his incredible power. He’s said to be the strongest hero in Marvel and while I completely disagree with that, he’s certainly one of the stronger members and not someone to be taken lightly.

I do have to mention that the art isn’t very good here. It’ll look all right at times and then the character models will just start to shift and tumble. I dunno, there was just something a little off putting about it, but the art still wasn’t downright bad. We still got some fun action sequences out of it (Which is the whole point of World War Hulk right?) and the scene where the Sentry finally makes his move is pretty epic. The guy definitely seems to think of himself as a Superman level fighter and maybe he has some valid reasons for this. He does end up looking really good here after all.

As this is one of the more modern events, you can tell that you are missing some things by not reading the tie ins, but it’s not as big as in some other graphic novels where it’s in your face. The pacing is good. The Hulk gradually defeats everyone and by the end you will be wondering how the Hulk can possibly be defeated. You have to wonder if even the Sentry will be able to stand up to such a powerful threat. Most of the other heroes do feel like light weights here. Even fighters like Ms. Marvel and She Hulk are shown to not even be a threat to the Hulk. Seriously, they just watch Iron Man get taken out and only jump in to help at the very end. Not very heroic eh? I was personally disappointed that Spiderman was taken out off screen by one of the minions. I don’t buy that…at all.

In fact, as cool and tough as the Hulk is, I don’t buy any of it. The heroes badly outnumbered Hulk and his little group and I feel like they really should have won this round. I think that Ms. Marvel could give the Hulk a good fight. When she’s with She Hulk, Ares, Spiderman, and many more fighters…that should really be enough to end things. The Fantastic Four didn’t look too good, but I have to admit that those guys would be outmatched in an instant. Only Mr. Fantastic can hope to save them all and things didn’t go according to plan for him. It was fun to see Iron Fist and X-23 jump into the action and Iron Fist did all right against one of the Warbound, but he was soon put in his place.

Dr Strange entered a type of rage mode to stop the Hulk and nearly destroyed innocent civilians in the process. It was the only time where the heroes looked bad as the Hulk had to save them before stopping Dr. Strange. It was still a fun super form to look at though. Even the government gets some hype as General Ross explains that he always knew that the other superheroes could never stop the Hulk. Naturally, his weapons aren’t that effective and he doesn’t stand a chance, but you really have to admire his confidence. Ross has no doubt that he will stop the Hulk and he fights on right up til the very end. He was actually a very likable figure here and he has certainly known the Hulk much longer than anyone else.

The Warbound don’t really have much of a personality as they carry their baggage from Planet Hulk. I didn’t like any of the members and I doubt that the film would change my mind. One of them admits that what they are doing is wrong, but he doesn’t care since he just wants revenge. Better to be a villain than to knowingly act like a villain. Seriously, the guy is constantly talking about morals and justice while he’s attacking the heroes. Definitely not your typical superhero behavior eh? The justice concept would have been pretty interesting had the Illuminati actually placed a bomb inside of Hulk’s rocket, but a plot twist nullifies that. Most of what the Illuminati did was unintentional, but they still deserve a lot of blame for what happened to the Hulk. His time in space was certainly not a pleasant one.

You have to wonder what would have happened if Thor and the X-Men had been here from the start. Would the Hulk have been able to come out on top like he did here or would the heroes have stopped him? I feel like the heroes should definitely have won and with Thor and the others, that should be a guarantee. I would love to see another arc like this pop up soon where one powerhouse takes on the whole Marvel Universe. Not in a single blow or eventually, but a gauntlet run like what happened here. Those scenarios are always a lot of fun.

Overall, I was hyped to read World War Hulk from the start. I just love the concept of it and greatly enjoyed the X-Men vs Hulk tie-in. That being said, it was maybe a little less enjoyable than I had been expecting it to be. The gladiator ring part of the saga wasn’t great and the art was definitely a little sub par. The nonstop action was great though and the dialogue was engaging as well. This is definitely a solid read for all Hulk fans and especially if you just want to see some big hero against hero fights. There is a cliff hanger, but it’s not that great. Especially when you know who the mysterious figure turns out to be. Still, this was a fun event. Smaller in scope than most of Marvel’s big specials, but it was still impactful and showed us the Hulk’s true power! (Albeit, slightly over hyped…)

Overall 8/10

Comic Reviews, Comics, Reviews

Marvel Masterworks Doctor Strange Volume 6 Review

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I don’t think that I have read a Doctor Strange comic before now so it was great to get this collection from the library. He’s a character who used to be among the strongest in Marvel history as he has gone toe to toe with foes like the Living Tribunal in the past. This collection certainly sees him go up against some cosmic threats, but we also get to see him get used to being a weaker fighter. This comic is sound in all areas and makes for a fun read.

There are quite a few adventures to be found here. One of the mini arcs involves a test that Eternity decides to give Doctor Strange. Strange must defeat himself as he meta physically fights against all of his personalities to show that his strength of will has not deteriorated. If he fails, Eternity shall end the planet! Later on, Strange decides to take a field trip to the past to meet with Ben Franklin and other retro figures. Unfortunately, someone has been following him around and Strange must learn not to believe his eyes, but to feel the truth. Finally, Strange is stripped of his Socerer Supreme title and goes back to just being a good magician. This comes at a bad time as Xander has come to attack Strange on behalf of his masters. Clea has also been tainted with evil and she is on a rampage in the city. Life never gets dull for Doctor Strange!

Doctor Strange is a very fun main character. He was certainly someone that you could root for here and he was also interesting. Strange was certainly a deep character who had been through many experiences and didn’t feel like your average hero. As with many heroes, this was likely the best portrayal of him as it would be very hard to top. His abilities are so numerous that even he has trouble remembering exactly what he can do at times, which makes sense. Magic is essentially unlimited so once you know it, you can really do just about anything. It’s easy to picture Doctor Strange actually tangling with cosmic beings. He met the creator in an older comic and here he gets to meet Satan and Eternity. He really hangs out with the best of the best and it would be fun to see Dr Strange at his height go up against Thanos with the Gauntlet. There’s actually a good chance that Strange could do more than simply put up a fight.

Eternity is certainly a fun character to watch since he’s one of Marvel’s heavy hitters. He is literally the universe so he is everywhere and always knows what’s going on. How can he be defeated? Well, you’d be surprised at just how many other heavy hitters Marvel has stashed away! Eternity is bested in both of the fights that he engages in here. One of them was a little surprising while I suppose that I can buy the other one. Still, in a battle of hype, one character must always lose right? I definitely consider Eternity to be below the Beyonder and Living Tribunal in power after this, but he’s probably still ahead of Death even though they are essentially half and half. At the very least, you’ve got to love Eternity’s personality. He reminds Doctor Strange that he is not above anger and he certainly proves it. You simply don’t want to mess with him!

Those were the two characters who really stuck out for me. Clea is a supporting character who gets a bigger role in the second half of the collection, but it’s still relatively small when you really think about it. I think the writers sometimes forget that she is still a sorceress though. Sometimes, she’ll simply go down without a fight. It’s a little odd and even the foreward by the writer for the first half mentioned that she probably should have left already. Things just didn’t work out very well for her, but at least the ending shows that things are starting to look better. Dr Strange’s assustant’s role is even smaller than Clea’s though so things certainly could have been worse.

As for the villains, most of them are simply sorcerers or tricks by Eternity or Strange’s mentor. Nightmare appears and he gets a pretty incredible feat, but Dr Strange disposes of him rather quickly. This shows how strong Strange was at one point. We’ve also got Xander, but he looks surprisingly weak. I’m assuming that the writer wasn’t sure exactly what to do with him and just threw the villain in for the lulz. We also have the the two queens who fought in the annual, but there’s not much to say about them. The dynamic was similar to the two Queens in Friendship is Magic, but with less development of course.

The art is a little inconsistent. It’s not a problem of the artist I believe as they switch during the comics. For most of the graphic novel, the art is very good and it does a good job of capturing the cosmic scope of Strange’s adventures. Towards the end with the annual and the final issues, the art just takes a big dip. The faces tend to vary a lot and Strange appears to have a head of gray hair on more than one occasion. I probably wouldn’t think that the art was so bad if it had been like that the whole time, but there’s no comparison when you look at the first half and then the second. Still, the first half definitely keeps it in the clear and the art certainly won’t take you out of the adventure.

The writing is engaging and you’re constantly reminded of how they simply don’t make comics like this one anymore. The adventures were great fun and Dr Strange made for a good lead. His strange adventures into other realms and planets are what made his comics so unique back in the day. The current Doctor Strange is hard to pinpoint as I haven’t read many comics with him, but he’s certainly less impressive nowadays and he doesn’t feel quite as determined as this Doctor Strange. It’s something about retro comics that allows each character to dip deep and really give the battle their all. That kind of determination doesn’t show up quite as often anymore.

Overall, I definitely recommend checking this collection out! It’s a blast and a half. Moreover, it’s a good way to get you prepped for the Doctor Strange film that will be coming out at some point in the future. You may not want to expect the film’s version to be quite as awesome as the lead in this collection, but it’s very likely going to be a good film so it should not disappoint. Watching Eternity actually get into a physical brawl is very exciting and the stakes are much higher here than you would expect from the average comic. This version of Dr Strange could likely defeat the Avengers and the other teams of the day as long as he had enough time to think of his spells. He could really do anything back in the day. Hopefully I’ll get to read another one of these collections for Doctor Strange someday. That being said, there’s another graphic novel that I’ll be reading soon, which has Strange in it so that’s the next best thing.

Overall 7/10