The Martian was my favorite book of 2014, so when it quickly was turned around into a huge movie the following year, I was a little nervous they could get it right. Especially so, because Ridley Scott, who used to be one of the most dependable directors in Hollywood, was helming it and was riding a decade long dry spell. Fortunately Scott was able to summon up a final science fiction masterpiece (no, I don’t hold out any hope for further ones) aided by perhaps the performance of Matt Damon’s career, an amazing ensemble cast, and fundamentally awesome source material (you can read my full review here).
One of the reasons that the story of Damon’s botanist, stranded on the Red Planet when his crew thinks him dead and leaves him behind, works so well is that it is 1) grounded in science and 2) as filled with funny moments as the novel is. Damon doesn’t have to quite do the amount of solo camera time that Tom Hanks did in Cast Away, but this is probably the closest to that feat that any other actor has come. Like Hanks did with Wilson (the greatest prop in movie history), Damon uses his logs to come up for an excuse for essentially breaking the fourth wall and talking to the audience. My favorite of these log rants begins with Damon using Vicodin as a condiment and ends with a convoluted explanation of how Mars now belongs to him under maritime law and that he is, in fact, a space pirate.
By the way, Andy Weir’s second novel (Artemis) hasn’t even been released yet and has been snapped up by a studio with The LEGO Movie team of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller attached to direct.
Among Spielberg’s “important” films, Amistad isn’t the home run that Saving Private Ryan or Schindler’s List is, but it’s still a powerful film and one with an incredible ensemble cast anchored by Anthony Hopkins in an Oscar-nominated performance as former President John Quincy Adams.
In today’s political climate, it’s hard to imagine, but after Adams lost his bid for re-election as President, he ended up running for Congress and returned to the House of Representatives (the only former President to do so) and government service. There, he was enlisted to represent the “cargo” of the slave ship La Amistad before the US Supreme Court. The Africans enslaved by the ship, had escaped the hold and slain their captors before being apprehended when their ship arrived in America. The 1839 case hinged on whether this was a matter of kidnapped human beings rising up and shaking off their chains or human cargo that should be returned to its “owners”. Hopkins arguing on their behalf before the court with a ten-minute dissertation on freedom is one of the most riveting monologues and pieces of acting I’ve ever seen. Hannibal Lecter’s introduction may be the most obvious best scene of Hopkins’ career, but this is every bit as good.
With issue #15 (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2) hitting theaters in 48 hours, last night I rewatched issue #14 to get back in the Marvel mood. Doctor Strange is one of my favorite of the origin story movies. It’s such a simple, linear tale, but it almost has to be with the trippiness of the MCU’s mystical universe finally unveiled. The film wastes no time showing you how different magic is in the MCU than in other universes by opening the film with Tilda Swinton’s Ancient One fighting her rogue disciple Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) in a New York that’s shifting while they fight like it was being operated by a bemused entity with a really cool kaleidoscope handy. This reality-shifting of Marvel’s capitol city was my favorite part of the film, taken to even greater heights later when Mordo and Strange are running from Kaecilius and his zealots.
Marvel has said that the MCU is going to be very different post-Avengers 4. It may not work on the “phase” system. It may be just an interconnected universe without a strict plot through line. However it shakes out, Stephen Strange is going to be a big part of how it looks, and I can’t wait for the sequel now that we all know the players and the ground rules. Since Strange 2 is at least three years away, remember you’ll be seeing him in November’s Thor: Ragnarok and in Avengers: Infinity War. Seeing him interact with some of the established heroes is going to be a blast. I especially want to see this moment recreated from the comics.
Doctor Strange was one of the roughly seventy blockbusters Disney released last year, continuing the most successful movie franchise of all-time with MCU installment #14, and introducing a very powerful new character into the mix. Benedict Cumberbatch will be reprising the good Doctor in November’s Thor: Ragnarok, but you can get your Strange fix in February when the Blu Ray releases with a mess o’ special features (The one I most want to see is the continuing adventures of Thor and Kevin in Australia). Read below for Coming Soon’s detailing of what goodness awaits those who journey within the mystic blu ray box. Continue reading Doctor Strange Blu Ray Release Date and Special Features!!!
EXTREME SPOILER WARNING FOR DOCTOR STRANGE
I was going to provide an in-depth analysis of the two end credits scenes from Doctor Strange…..but Looper had already done it. Doctor Strange itself made it clear that the Eye of Agamotto is the Time Gem and the fifth of the six gems that Thanos is looking to fill the Infinity Gauntlet. Most likely, we’ll find out the last one either in Guardians Volume 2 or Thor: Ragnarok next year. Speaking of Thor 3, the first end credits sequence brings the return of the Odinson for the first time since Age of Ultron and is a great set-up for that film, which we now know will see the return of Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange. The scene also implies that Odin is still alive, a plot thread left nebulous since the final scene of Thor: The Dark World.
Oh Mordo, you just aren’t very bendy, are you? The inflexible and disillusioned Baron Mordo is clearly set up as the bad guy for the second Doctor Strange film, which will most likely happen in 2020’s Phase Four post-Infinity War. What is clear from both scenes is that Doctor Strange is here to stay as a major player in the MCU’s future.