Archive for Ancient One

Doctor Strange (2016)

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 14, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In Kathmandu, Nepal, the sorcerer Kaecilius and his zealots enter the secret compound Kamar-Taj and murder its librarian, keeper of ancient and mystical texts. They steal a ritual from a book belonging to the Ancient One, a sorcerer who has lived for an unknown time and taught all at Kamar-Taj, including Kaecilius, in the ways of the mystic arts. The Ancient One pursues the traitors, but Kaecilius escapes with the pages and some of his followers.

Stephen Strange, an acclaimed neurosurgeon, loses the use of his hands in a car accident. Fellow surgeon and former lover Christine Palmer tries to help him move on, but Strange, believing he can regain use of his hands, instead uses all his resources pursuing experimental surgeries in vain. After learning of Jonathon Pangborn, a paraplegic who mysteriously was able to walk again, Strange seeks him out, and is directed to Kamar-Taj. There, Strange is taken in by another sorcerer under the Ancient One, Mordo. The Ancient One shows Strange her power, revealing the astral plane and other dimensions such as the Mirror Dimension. Strange begs her to teach him, and she eventually agrees despite his arrogance, which reminds her of Kaecilius.

Strange begins his tutelage under the Ancient One and Mordo, and learns from the ancient books in the library, now presided over by the master Wong. Strange learns that Earth is protected from other dimensions by a spell formed from three buildings called Sanctums, found in New York City, London, and Hong Kong. The task of the sorcerers is to protect the Sanctums, though Pangborn chose to forgo this responsibility in favor of channeling mystical energy into walking again. Strange advances quickly over several months, even secretly reading from the text Kaecilius stole from and learning to bend time with the mystical Eye of Agamotto. Mordo and Wong warn Strange against breaking the laws of nature, comparing his arrogant yearning for power to that of Kaecilius, who believes, after the deaths of his loved ones, that everyone should have eternal life.

Kaecilius and his followers use the stolen pages to begin summoning the powerful Dormammu of the Dark Dimension, where time does not exist and all can live forever. This destroys the London Sanctum, and sends Strange from Kamar-Taj to the New York Sanctum. The zealots then attack there, where Strange holds them off with the mystical Cloak of Levitation until Mordo and the Ancient One arrive. Strange and Mordo become disillusioned with the Ancient One after Kaecilius reveals that her long life has come from her own use of Dormammu’s power. Kaecilius mortally wounds the Ancient One, and escapes to Hong Kong. The Ancient One tells Strange that he, too, will have to break the rules, to balance Mordo’s steadfast nature. She then dies, despite the best efforts of Strange and a bewildered Palmer. Strange and Mordo arrive in Hong Kong to find Wong dead and the Sanctum destroyed, with the Dark Dimension already engulfing Earth. Strange uses the Eye to turn back time and save Wong, before creating an infinite time loop inside the Dark Dimension that traps himself and Dormammu in the same moment forever. Strange agrees to break the loop if Dormammu leaves Earth, and the latter takes Kaecilius and the zealots with him.

Disgusted by Strange and the Ancient One’s disregard for the consequences of defying nature, Mordo departs. Strange returns the Eye, which Wong calls an Infinity Stone, to Kamar-Taj, and then takes up residence in the New York Sanctum to continue his studies. In a mid-credits scene, Strange agrees to help Thor, who has brought his brother Loki to Earth to search for their father Odin. In a post-credits scene, Mordo visits Pangborn and steals the energy he uses to walk, stating that Earth has “too many sorcerers”.

REVIEW:

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has reached the point now to where they can explore some of the lesser known, but still major characters. This is why we are getting films such as Black Panther, Captain Marvel, and this one, Doctor Strange. It is a risky move with this guy, especially with the use of mysticism, but if anyone cane make it work, it is Marvel. Let’s see how they did, shall we?

What is this about?

Marvel’s “Doctor Strange” follows the story of the talented neurosurgeon Doctor Stephen Strange who, after a tragic car accident, must put ego aside and learn the secrets of a hidden world of mysticism and alternate dimensions. Based in New York City’s Greenwich Village, Doctor Strange must act as an intermediary between the real world and what lies beyond, utilising a vast array of metaphysical abilities and artifacts to protect the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

What did I like?

Visuals. You’ve seen the trailers and advertisements for this film, I’m sure, so I don’t really need to tell you that this film is something that can best be described as Inception on acid. Doctor Strange, much like Thor was, is not an easy character to bring to life, especially when you  start trying to portray his powers. Throw in others who have powers that may or may nor be on another level from his and your mind is blown! This is just something that has to be seen!

Strange things. When casting Dr. Strange, the first person I thought of was Robert Downey, Jr., but the problem with that choice is he’s already playing Iron Man (strangely enough there are man similarities between Tony Stark and Stephen Strange, starting with their choice of facial hair). Upon hearing Benedict Cumberbatch was cast, I was skeptical as to how he would pull it off. Not because he’s a bad actor, but because this seemed to be a bit beneath him. As it turns out, this is as perfect a role for him as Sherlock. Cumberbatch brings the cockiness needed, while also being he defeated student who is learning everything he can. I look forward to seeing much more from him in this role.

So, that’s the connection! For a Marvel film, there is about as much mention of the other Marvel properties as there are in the Netflix shows, which I actually appreciated. There is one mention of the Avengers that I remember and that was it. We don’t need to be beaten over the head with constant reminders. A few Easter eggs are nice here and there, but everything has its limit. By holding off on the MCU stuff, the scene at the beginning of the credits is much more effective as it ties him into the universe and sets up one of the next Marvel films (I won’t spoil which one).

What didn’t I like?

Is this love? It seems as if one can’t enjoy a superhero movie without the token love story, whether it fits or not. In this case, it does not. In the film’s defense, this isn’t truly a love story, as much as it is an attempt to put two people who have history and similar interests together just because. Rachel McAdams is a gorgeous woman, but I don’t think the audience would be missing much had her scenes been reduced.

Villain. If there is one weakness in these Marvel films, it seems to be the villains. Other than Loki, none of them have been memorable, let alone a threat. I know what you’re going to say….Zemo was a threat in Captain America: Civil War and Thanos is lurking out there. With Zemo, sure he was effective, but who remembers anything about the guy? Thanos’ time is coming soon…VERY soon. You can add Dormmamu and his minion Kaecilius to the list of ineffective villains. We are never really made clear of their intentions, other than Dormmamu wants to escape the Dark Dimensiom and send the Earth back there, but why?!? I need some motivation for why you are trying to destroy existence!

Whitewashing. Much has been said about the casting of Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One. For me, not being Asian, it isn’t a big deal, but I can imagine how difficult it is to accept the change. I’m not going to go into some long diatribe about this, but I do feel as if the audience deserved at least a snippet of the Ancient One as an old Asian guy. The film makes a point about how his form is fluid, so who’s to say he needs to look like a creepy, bald white woman?

Final verdict on Doctor Strange? A solid introduction to a lesser-known character. The film really shines when it comes to the visuals. Cumberbatch, sporting an American accent that he doesn’t quite seem comfortable with, seems to be having fun with the character which really sells it to the audience. There are a few minor issues here and there, but they aren’t anything that cannot be overcome. Do I recommend this? Yes, very highly! Go check it out!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Doctor Strange

Posted in Action/Adventure, Animation, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 22, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Dr. Stephen Strange is one of the most gifted surgeons in medicine, however, he is also highly arrogant and dismissive of his colleagues. While driving home from the hospital one night, he notices Baron Mordo and his allies slaying a monster – notable because they are hidden from view by one of Wong’s spells. An unbelieving Strange dismisses it as stress-related hallucination. The next day, he is visited by the hospital’s administrator Oliver who states that Dr. Gina Atwater has problems with him. He then speaks with Dr. Atwater and discusses her case of a child — one of many — who is suffering from dangerous nightmares. Seeing the children causes Stephen to flashback to when his sister April had a headache similar to the ones the children have been having. The conversation also reveals that the two doctors have had a romantic relationship in the past. When touching one child, he sees an image of a demonic skull-face laughing while engulfed in flames and promptly leaves, telling Gina that there is nothing he can do for the children.

While driving home, Stephen again sees the vision of flames with a burning face in them and swerves his car to avoid ghostly children in the road, careening off the cliffside. As a result of the crash, his hands are left shattered and useless. Spending all of his fortune and life savings in pursuit of a way to fix his fractured hands, the dejected doctor believes all is lost until his suicide attempt is thwarted by Wong who recommends the Ancient One to offer him hope and healing in Tibet.

After begging Gina to help him get to Tibet and then undertaking a grueling hike up into the Himalayas, Stephen begins his training at a hidden monastery under the tutelage of the Ancient One — a dimunitive old man. Soon after Strange arrives, the other students leave to combat a pack of wolf-like creatures in Central Park. Not long after, the Ancient One is told by Wong and Baron Mordo that some of the students died during the conflict. The conversation indicates that the number of assaults by mystical creatures has been growing recently. After several days of scrubbing floors and performing manual labor, Stephen is considering giving up and departs the monastery. As he walks through the snow, however, he flashbacks to a previous failure — becoming his sister’s doctor and attempting to remove the brain tumor causing her headaches (in reality, doctors are not permitted to treat family members, as they are too emotionally attached). During the procedure, April died and Strange has always blamed himself. The Ancient One appears in Stephen’s mind and convinces him to let go of this past guilt and return to his training.

The next day the Ancient One detects two Chinous (reptilian monsters the size of a small house) approaching the Sanctuary and orders Baron Mordo to kill them one at a time. However, the arrogant Mordo disobeys and leads two separate teams to take them on. As a result, several of the weaker students are killed before the beasts are defeated. Later, as the Ancient One mourns the loss of his disciples he scolds Baron Mordo for his disobedience and tells him that he will never inherit the title of Sorceror Supreme from the old master, but instead must train Doctor Strange — the true heir to the position. An angered Mordo later spars with Stephen, escalating the mock-fight into a deadly contest of skills. During the fight Stephen instinctually absorbs Mordo’s spell and deflects the energy back towards him. An enraged Mordo lunges to kill him, but Wong intervenes and tells Stephen that he will be taking over the training. A dejected Mordo leaves, now with true hatred in his eyes for Strange.

Later Stephen follows the Ancient One, Wong, Baron Mordo, and the few other remaining students to the Sanctum Sanctorum – a nexus between realities and dimensions that appears from the outside as a townhouse in New York City. The Ancient One then tells them about Dormammu, an ancient being that wishes to rule all worlds — especially Earth. Thousands of years ago after his previous bid at conquest, the Ancient One trapped him in a dimension of limbo. Upon seeing the visage of Dormammu, Stephen recognizes it as the burning face and realizes that the demon is using children’s dreams to enter Earth. Doctor Strange returns to the hospital and puts Gina to sleep. He then searches her computer to find out how widespread the children’s comas are and to attempt to wake them. He awakens patient after patient to prevent Dormammu from entering Earth. Mordo also enters a child’s dream and makes a deal with Dormammu, pledging to serve him in exchange for dominion as the Sorcerer Supreme. Dormammu takes over the minds of the remaining children as Mordo attacks Doctor Strange in the physical realm. Wong appears, however, and manages to save him.

As this is going on at the hospital, the Ancient One and his three remaining students attempt to ward off a swarm of Wing Marks — vicious flying mouths capable of stripping a person to the bone in seconds. All of the followers are killed and the Ancient One is left greatly weakened due to both exertion and age. The traitorous Mordo then arrives to attack the Ancient One. Doctor Strange and Wong arrive at the Sanctum to find the Ancient One dead. Wong gives Doctor Strange the Eye of Agamotto — a powerful symbol of the office of Sorcerer Supreme — and states that it is Doctor Strange’s destiny. Strange and Wong then confront Baron Mordo. As Wong fights Mordo, he is wounded in battle, but Mordo is repelled by Doctor Strange. Doctor Strange then fights him as Dormammu begins his emergence.

Dormammu immediately devours Mordo and steals the Eye of Agamotto as he makes his way to the Sanctum Sanctorum. Doctor Strange confronts Dormammu who begins to overwhelm the new sorcerer as he unleashes his monsters around the world. The wounded Wong, watching from nearby, reminds Stephen of his experience sparing with Mordo and the Doctor then absorbs the pure magic the demon is blasting him with. Since the demon himself is made of pure magic, he soon vanishes into nothing after pouring his power into Strange. An astonished Wong states that he didn’t expect the Doctor to actually absorb Dormammu but it will work.

Later, as they return to the Sanctum, Wong tells Doctor Strange that Stephen’s primary purpose as the Sorcerer Supreme is to protect the realm of Earth from mystical attacks such as the one they just experienced. Stephen later appears in Gina’s dream, surprising her with his humbling change in attitude and reassures her that all will be well with the children. Now dressed in the robes of his office, Doctor Strange visits his sister’s grave to say goodbye and is told by Wong that they have new potential students for Strange to train. One of those who shows real potential is a girl named “Clea” as they close the door while entering the Sanctum.

REVIEW:

The weirdest thing led to me choosing to watch this film this evening. Last week, I went to trivia night at Buffalo Wild Wings and one of the questions was about Dr. Strange, a character who I am not too familiar with. I guessed on the question and got it right, but it inspired to finally pull this thing up to the top of my Netflix list and check it out.

Up until now, the most I’ve known about Dr. Strange is what I’ve seen in his guest appearances in the Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, Iron Man, and various other Marvel Saturday morning cartoons (remember when they actually had cartoons on Saturday morning?), as well as a bit of background from the comics, but not really enough to say I know anything about the character.

Having said that, though, I have to say that the first hour or so of this film where they seem to drag his origin out forever and a day is just too long. I realize that Dr. Strange isn’t the most well-known comic character and that his origin has to be told, but it could have been done in a more concise matter, if you ask me.

The animation in this film is great, if you like this look. For me, I prefer the classic animation where people actually sit down and hand draw the characters and backgrounds, rather than this pseudo-anime, borderline CGI stuff. I know there are those of you out there who like this stuff, but it just isn’t my cup of tea.

The action scenes, which I feel should have been more numerous, are great. Maybe that was the filmmaker’s intention in having the audience wait through all that origin fluff to get to the real meat and potatoes of the film, the climactic confrontation with Dormammu, as well as the various other action sequences in the film.

Much of the character’s backstory’s are changed, which is something I do not care for, especially in something that is from the people who created the characters in the first place. If they can’t stick to the source material, then what hope is there that upstart filmmakers who license their properties will follow suit?

Marvel Animation seems to be going for the more serious tone with their releases, then again, Dr. Strange has always been one of the more serious characters. I’m not sure I cared for this film, but if you are not familiar with the character, or just want to check out a god comic book flick, then this would be a good choice, although there others I’d choose first. Dr. Strange isn’t the most entertaining flick, but you could do much worse. If you get the chance and have th desire, why not check it out?

3 out of 5 stars