Doctor Strange – Formality at its Finest

God damn has it been a long time since I’ve written anything on here. I’ve been very busy with my new job at HiRez and classes and papers and whatnot. Fortunately, the semester is winding down, and I went out and saw this trippy-ass movie and figured “what the hell, I’ll write about it.”

So, Doctor Strange.

No, not that one.

There we go, the one that I’ve been putting in the production studio to scare the fuck out of Toliy.

I want to start out by saying that Doctor Strange is a lot of fun. Crazy effects, good production design, this film is an overall good popcorn flick, whitewashing notwithstanding. It’s a good movie to take a group of random friends to, especially if you guys are on drugs.

Unfortunately, that’s all there is to it. The film neglects every possible formal element for the sake of having fun, and does it in a way that makes you OK with it. That’s because telling this story is not the point of this film. The only point of this film is to set up the titular doctor for the next Avengers movie, and that’s annoying to me. For my comic books class we watched Captain America 1, and even that movie went out of its way to make sure Cap got his character development time. Doctor Strange runs through all the important narrative information to get to the fun stuff as soon as it can, because that’s all it’s got, because its one goal is to set up the next Avengers. And Civil War proved that you don’t even need to give characters their own movie to do that, so why fucking bother?


Except, that important narrative information is how we get invested in the character.

In fact, this entire film is self-defeating on that front because WE KNOW he’s going to win because WE KNOW there’s a million other Marvel films in the pipeline. I remember sitting in the theater when the trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy 2 came on and everyone freaked out when they saw baby Groot and I was like “YOU KNEW HE WAS COMING BACK IN THE PREVIOUS MOVIE!!

I really don’t want to recommend Doctor Strange to you. I guess I can, but there’s no real reason for you to see it. It’s nothing you haven’t seen before and financially supporting this movie does nothing to benefit film as a whole. Save your money for Black Panther instead, so you can support nonwhite casting.

~NCB

P.S.: I promise I have been working on other things. There’s been a lot to worry about. I’m starting to think about publishing comics via KickStarter instead of publishing them on the web, that way I can put a bigger proof-of-concept up there and you don’t have to be sitting on the edges of your seats waiting for updates from me.

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Hail, Caesar!: For the Love of Movies

The day that I published my Deadpool review, I got invited to go see Hail, Caesar! and once again, I didn’t get the opportunity to preemptively compose the intro to a review. So I guess I’ll start this off by saying that Hail, Caesar! was really good.

Cinematography is about as good as you would expect. There’s a sort of yellowness to the whole film that makes it feel very old-timey and Classical Hollywood-ey. Am I the only one who tends to imagine the whole time period as that color? As a whole, there’s a sort of softness to the whole thing that is very characteristic of classical Hollywood films, and it looks good.

Going into this movie, I was kind of excited but also a little skeptical. The trailer seemed to imply that it was romanticizing the studio system, as so many have done before it. But Hail, Caesar! both romanticizes AND calls out the studio system on its bullshit, as well as stuff that is genuinely hilarious, but only if you know your film history.

The film’s own plot is kind of threadbare, and as a whole is padded by little vignette pieces, like the Channing Tatum tap-dancing number that you’ve heard so much about, that pay tribute to the days of classical Hollywood. I, for one, love it, because I had to take two semesters of that shit and understand the significance. Heck, I can name some specific directors that are being called out.

But I can totally understand why someone wouldn’t enjoy this movie. The film’s main plot thread is heavily reliant on some serious film history trivia, and to those who don’t understand it, the resolution may seem a little forced and deus-ex-machina-ey.

2016 is off to a strong start with Hail, Caesar! It’s definitely worth your time if you know a lot about movies, but if you don’t, maybe go into the theater with a grain of salt.
~NCB