This past week I've had the opportunity to see two very different yet both good sci-fi movies - Doctor Strange, which along side Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Moana have been my most highly anticipated movie releases of November, and Hardcore Henry, which finally came in at the library after being on hold for it for months. Since both are definitely sci-fi movies, I thought I'd share my thoughts on both films in honor of Rinn Reads and Over the Effing Rainbow's Sci-Fi Month. Buckle up!
❋ ❋ ❋ ❋
Dr. Stephen Strange is a world renown neurosurgeon, who after a terrible car accident is no longer capable of performing surgery. Regardless of the procedures done on his hands, nothing can restore them. During his quest to find someone else that can fix his hands, he meets an "expert" called the Ancient One and inadvertently finds himself getting pulled into the world of the mystic arts and other dimensions.
I've really been enjoying the movies from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I'm not all that familiar with the comics, but I do like the movies. Of course, ever since I saw the trailer for this one I knew I would have to see this in theaters - and pay the extra charge to see it in 3D. This movie didn't disappoint - cast, visuals, and origin story. Aside from being the newest Marvel offering, the main draw for me going in is definitely Benedict Cumberbatch. He's easily one of my favorite actors now, so seeing him handily take on the leading role and successfully carry a major blockbuster movie is wonderful, especially considering how much different this is from everything else he has done. I really enjoyed seeing the character of Steven Strange develop from an arrogant neurosurgeon to the Sorcerer Supreme. The rest of the cast also does a very good job in their parts - Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, Rachel McAdams, and Mads Mikkelsen,- at least for someone who isn't already very familiar with the characters or the story.
In regards to visuals and effects, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Doctor Strange might just be the the most impressive of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The subject matter of this story allows them to do quite a bit more than anything else put out by the MCU so far. It definitely takes it's cues from Inception which isn't a bad thing at all. Plus, the 3D really makes the visuals come to life. Of course, I was also looking forward to the Stan Lee cameo, which I will say is in the middle of an epicly mind-bending sequence and it's pretty funny (the movie as a whole has plenty of humorous bits). By the way, the Cloak of Levitation, a magically imbued relic Strange receives is pretty cool and kind of has a mind of its own for an otherwise inanimate object at least- it has a couple of great moments.
Finally, the story itself is a fairly standard Marvel origin story. It also acts as a stand alone film - the first MCU standalone since Guardians of the Galaxy. In order to understand or enjoy the movie, you don't have to have full knowledge of the rest of the Marvel films. Although, if you do there are plenty of Easter eggs you'll catch - for example, you can see the Avengers Tower on the NYC skyline and one about the Eye of Agamotto that means it'll probably be quite important in the future. During the credits, we have a mid-credits scene and a post-credits scene. The first of which hints at Steven Strange's future involvement in the MCU with a cameo featuring Thor, from Ragnarok director Taika Waititi!
Overall, if you're a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe you absolutely need to see this film. If at all possible, I highly recommend that you spend a few extra dollars to see it 3D because it's certainly worth it. Luckily, Doctor Strange lives up to the hype. I can't wait to see more of his character in the future! What can I say - I'm just excited that Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are now both a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe!
❋ ❋ ❋ ❋
Henry has been brought back from death with brand new cybernetic implants, including a brand new left leg, left arm, and eyes, by his scientist wife named Estelle. He can't remember who he is, but Estelle tries to fill him in quickly. Just before his new voice modulator can be uploaded so he can speak again, a psychotic and telekinetic terrorist named Akan attacks with his goons to capture both Henry and Estelle. They try to flee, but Akan's people get Estelle. Now, Henry's on a mission to save his wife from a man who is attempting to build his own personal army with the help of a new and mysterious ally named Jimmy.
First things first, this movie is definitely not for the faint of heart as it earns it's R rating. The title definitely suits it! I'll also be the first to say I'm not generally a fan of shaky cam, however this movie, made primarily with a GoPro worn as a helmet by the many actors/ stuntmen who portray our title character, didn't give me a headache or motion sickness. Essentially, this action thriller is a first-person shooter, one that you can't afford look away from for any length of time for fear of missing something because the movie travels at breakneck speed for most of the run time. I'm going to say that this movie earns a full star simply for the brilliant stunt work and use of practical effects. Even if you don't care for the rest of the movie, you should at least be able to appreciate the effort put into the stunt work and effects.
On that note, I also really appreciated Sharlto Copley's role as Jimmy, Henry's ally - who also easily earns a whole star for himself. His character (or should I say characters - that's another sci-fi element) easily stole every scene that he's in. He brings a lot of excitement and personality to this adrenaline rush of a movie. It seems like he's just having a blast making the movie. This movie is also really funny and a lot of that is due to Copley's role. He gets some of the best lines and moments - I think my favorite version of Jimmy is definitely the old-school Colonel. I couldn't help but think of his part as Murdock in The A-Team remake in some parts. too. That's not to say that Henry doesn't have his moments either. I'd say Henry's funniest moment is where he attempts to ride a horse (set to the theme of the original The Magnificent Seven film) - let's just say that Henry has a lot of crazy skills, but riding is not one of them!
I'd also like to take note of a couple of other elements. The soundtrack to this movie is pretty fantastic. I actually watched all the way through the credits just to listen to the music, and I don't do that often at all. The moment when Henry learns the truth about Jimmy has a great surreal song and dance bit. I also liked the song quite a bit used for Punk Jimmy's fight scene, which really fits well. Finally, Akan is an interesting villain. I would definitely like to know more about his abilities. The actor playing the part, Danila Kozlovsky, also played Dimitri in the Vampire Academy adaptation, but he is entirely unrecognizable here. By the way, Henry's wife, Estelle, is played by Haley Bennett who also played Megan Hipwell in The Girl on the Train.
Overall, if you want to see an adrenaline rush of an action thriller with sci-fi elements at breakneck speed, plenty of blood and guts, and a good dose of humor, you may want to try Hardcore Henry. Plus, I'd say it's a must see for fans of Sharlto Copley's work, or, possibly even Deadpool.
Have you seen either of these movies yet? Do you plan to? What movie do you want to see next at the movie theater? Me, I plan on seeing Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them next!