by Aiyonna White, Contributor
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I must admit I was over the moon imagining whom they would cast as this character that I had loved as a little black girl in Iowa that scoured the comic book shop for characters of color (COC). I decided a long time ago that my Doctor wasn’t black but he wasn’t white either I always thought he was Indian or from Asian country that after his injuries decided to explore the medicine of his ancestors (who he had turned away from as he completely assimilated to American culture) so when they announced they had cast Benedict Cumberbatch I was very upset. Disappointed that once again a character that could have no SHOULD have been a man of color was instead cast with one of the whitest men on the screen. Now in his defense he’s a great actor and I’m a huge fan of Benedict. So I weakly decided to forgive Marvel for that choice since I was sure the Ancient One would be an Asian actor either someone US audiences know already like Jet Li or Daniel Dae Kim or Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa but instead they cast Tilda Swinton freaking TILDA SWINTON the whitest woman in the entire world. mind blown I got so mad that I pledged to not see the film EVER! I was done DONE with the two leads. Even after they cast Chiwetel Ejiofor I was no. But than my friends insisted we see the Suicide Squad and I saw Benedict in the cape I started to yearn for the movie. Despite my pledge to stand strong with my Asian Brothers and Sisters against the whitewashing of the first superhero film that SHOULD have been predominately Asian but I still thought I will not see the film BUT will watch it on HBO or DVD.
But happily I’m on a screening list and got to see a sneak preview of the film with a good blerd chick friend. So lucky you get a review of the film.
So I’m going to go on and say one of the things that I found strange ABOUT Dr. Strange. How the holy freck is a movie that takes place in a mythical Asian country that all of the supporting stars are either WHITE or a Black guy (notice I say GUY as in the ONE). Now they do have two supporting Asian actors one is Wong (Benedict Wong) the librarian and an actor who I can’t even find listed on IMDB <URGH>.
But it’s a solid MCU origin story where you get to know Dr. Strange (and yes you will call him DOCTOR) a hotshot surgeon who’s a bit of a talented douche who likes to take high profile cases that will go in his ‘win’ column so that he can keep collecting awards and money to fund a very expensive Manhattan lifestyle. All that changes when he gets in car accident in his BMW (should have sprung for the self driving) where he mangles his precious surgeon hands but no his mind . This starts him on a path to fix his hands so he can get back to his life as a world class surgeon and so be first tries Western medicine (the best money can buy) before finally deciding that he wants to figure out how a former patient of his rehabilitation nurse was able to get back on his feet (I think releasing personal medical records to prove your right is illegal but let’s just go all in and ignore that too). This path takes him half way across the world to and he begins a journey that eventually leads him to Kamar-Taj (Tibet to everyone else). Once he meets the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) or The White Ghost the story picks up the pace and careens to the final showdown with the big bad. Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) is an OK villain seduced by power but despite his being a solid actor I don’t think the part was as fleshed out as I’d have liked and it just felt like so many other villains that he didn’t make that big of an impression. But of course as a nod to diversity he gets a black bestie Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and enigmatic Asian guy Wong (Benedict Wong) who seems to a stick in the mud ‘follow the rules’ type of guy both characters seem to be all about making Dr. Strange a better white superior to all . Did I mention that they justified the Ancient One with a throwaway line of how she’s Gaelic and doesn’t talk about how she got to be the leader .
I don’t want to throw shade but Benedict get a major tan because he’s not as pearly as he normally looks!
At least we have the Black Panther … but my Asian Brothers and Sisters get bupkis with this film. I felt like a kid when I’d watch TV or movies desperately looking for someone who looked like me that were always either in the background or were the hooker or drug dealer. Things have changed but comic book movies still aren’t moving fast enough for me.
Posted in Comic Books, Film, Geek Fun, Movie Tagged with: Ancient One, Benedict Cumberbatch, Benedict Wong, Benjamin Bratt, Blerd, C. Robert Cargill, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Comic Book Movie, doctor strange, Geek Movie, Hong Kong, Kaecilius, Kamar-Taj, Karl Mordo, Kathmandu, London, Mads Mikkelsen, Marvel, Michael Stuhlbarg, movie review, Nepal, New York City, Rachel McAdams, Scott Adkins, Scott Derrickson, Tilda Swinton
Remember that movie that came out about a little over ten years ago with Sean Connery? You know his very last film before he retired? The action fantasy cowboy movie? Likely not since it was trashed by everyone well they are showing it on Encore so I thought i’d listen to it while checking emails. I knew it was a bad movie undeserving of my full attention. Well it’s not that awful. Really it’s OK since Sean committed to his role as Quatermain and made it a fun silly romp. You have to suspend belief as a film that feature characters from classic literature being turned into action heroes. Sort of a old school Avenger Assemble time but with a adventurer, seaship captain/pirated, Jekyll/Hyde, Dorian Gray, a vampire AND a grown up Tom Sawyer (with unfortunate blonde hair). I thought visually it looked ok with the Victorian England redone with a Steampunk sideye but the cast didn’t really gel despite everyone being good actors the script wasn’t quite funny (tongue in cheek) or serious enough. I find it’s often very difficult to have a film that is neither comedy or serious and that (I think) is why people didn’t respond to it. As much as I LOVE Sean Connery this wasn’t the best final film for him (it’s OK but …) since it had such a large cast with character some people may not ‘know’ they weren’t able to really invest the backstory for all the characters and create an emotional connection with the team. Instead it was the Quatermain show and everyone else was on his coattails. But when you have an ensemble film everyone needs to not only have a ‘moment’ but also the ability to take a somewhat dull script and make it come alive. I’ve seen the cast over years and think they are all solid actors but in this film the director wasn’t able to work with their ability to create a fun comic book movie. Of course when you look at this film you have to remember it was released over ten years ago before the ‘Era of Comic Book’ movies so they likely didn’t know how to make this film work. I also think that some studios work better with fantasy scripts than others.
I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to see this film but if it’s on your cable or movie channel it’s a nice movie for older kids and adults who want to turn their brains off.
Posted in Los Angeles Tagged with: Bram Stoker, Comic Book, Edgar Allan Poe, film review, Gaston Leroux, Graphic Novel, H. Rider Haggard, H.G. Wells, Herman Melville, Ian Fleming, Jason Flemyng, Jules Verne, LXG, Mark Twain, movie review, Naseeruddin Shah, Oscar Wilde, Peta Wilson, Richard Roxburgh, Robert Louis Stevenson, Sean Connery, Shane West, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Stephen Norrington, Stuart Townsend, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Tony Curran
We all know the fairy tale story of the little movie that done good so of course Universal had to make a sequel. So like a lot of fans I went to see it over the weekend to avoid spoilers and be unduly influenced by other movie reviews.
so I have to say again HUGE fan of the first film. The soundtrack is played weekly on spotify and I watch the movie often (not as many as Star Wars but dozens of times). I went in with super high expectations that lightening would strike twice but with fewer Fat Amy and ethnic jokes.
First of all TONS of fat jokes about Fat Amy but since she did most of them I suppose it’s OK. What really struck me a little off was that they added a Latina JUST to have her make immigrant/illegal jokes so didn’t find them that funny or the Black Lesbian jokes hmm as I write this am reminded of the jokes that fell flat for me. Pretty much all the ethnic, fat and gay jokes (but that’s just me). Am sure all the many people who were laughing beside me in the theatre didn’t get annoyed.
I’m going to focus on the new story. It’s been about three years were the Barden Bellas have been kicking acapella ass and ruling the school. Fast forward to a Kennedy Center performance for President Obama’s Birthday setting up the story of their crashing in ‘flames’ or flashing the first family from ‘Down Under’. We get to see old characters from the first film and are slowly introduced to the next generation of Bellas. The women are intimidated by the Das Sound Machine the German acapella , who are top of heap worldwide after watching them perform. The random star appearances weren’t distracting (aka Snoop) since it made sense so that was an interesting addition but the Green Bay Packers (Clay Matthews, David Bakhtiari, Don Barclay, Josh Sitton, T.J. Lang and Jordan Rodgers) stole their scene competing with the other groups in a ‘thunder dome’.
It’s not a bad movie especially for a sequel and it was amusing but it just didn’t click for me. I’m not sure if it’s because I didn’t love the music or that the new staff addition was distracting or that Utkarsh Ambudkar (Donald) didn’t return . YES but once you let that go and just look at it as a silly popcorn movie it’s OK. Will I see it more than once but it’s OK especially if your in the mood for a light comedy that has some good zingers. I’d write about them but have already forgotten them. I think that’s my issue with the movie. Seeing the first time I literally left the theatre singing the songs. I was acabitching all my friends and left in a good mood. This one was just OK. No issue with Elizabeth Banks as a director it’s just a blah OK script that they were so busy replicating the underdog fight to victory that they forgot what made the first one such a pleasure.
In this sequel to Pitch Perfect, the collegiate acappella group called the Barden Bellas enter into an international competition, but they are told it will be impossible to win because they are from the U.S. The girls refuse to give up and vow to be the first Americans to take home the top prize. Directed by Elizabeth Banks, the film features an ensemble cast that includes Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, Ester Dean, Hana Mae Lee, Hailee Steinfeld, Katey Sagal and Alexis Knapp.
Posted in Film, Los Angeles, Movie Tagged with: Acapella, Alexis Knapp, Anna Kendrick, Australia, Barden Bellas, Brittany Snow, Clay Matthews, Comedy, Das Sound Machine, David Bakhtiari, Don Barclay, Ester Dean, film review, football, Green Bay Packers, Hailee Steinfeld, Hana Mae Lee, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Jordan Rodgers, Josh Sitton, Katey Sagal, Kennedy Center, Michelle Obama, movie review, Musical, Pitch Perfect 2, President Obama, Rebel Wilson, Snoop Dogg, T.J. Lang, treblemaker
It’s been a while since I saw a movie and decided to go to see the new animated film Big Hero 6 at the Arclight. Imagine my surprise that it’s not at Arclight Hollywood (boo) so looked at the schedule and thought what the heck I don’t mind looking at Matthew McConaughey for three hours (mmm still too handsome for words). Now I have to say that I appreciate the directing talents of Christopher Nolan but he’s never been on my list of directors that I’ll see all their movies. I’ve always found his movies to be a bit pretentious and always a little too long (does he NOT have an editor???). I went in with so-so expectations after reading reviews and the amusing twitter war that Neil deGrasse Tyson had with scientific flaws the film had.
Well it’s not an awful movie, it’s just way too long, has a FU ending and suffers from the usual what happened to all the colored people (was there a race war that left most of the people of color dead other than the 2 scientists too smart to leave behind) in the future. I think that what threw me for a loop was that it’s deliberate pace didn’t really engage me. I did find the subject interesting but despite having a long film they didn’t really explore or give me the emotional connection I was looking for in a film about the end of Earth and the death of humanity. Instead it went off on a little bit of a love story (not needed), a LOT of daddy issues and dropped the ball on humanities place on the cosmos. Like most Nolan movies it’s visually a good looking movie but just never connected emotionally with me. I’m not saying ‘die humanity die’ but I didn’t care about anyone so for the last 20 minutes all I could think of was going to the restroom!
I probably would have liked the film more if they had focused on the exploration and how a lack of human connection can drive someone to ignore right and wrong but instead it was just a bit of a jumbled movie that jumped around too much for me to enjoy.
I can’t really recommend the movie unless you love Matthew (he’s front and center) and don’t mind a movie that’s mostly talk that gets distracted and drops plot lines (left and right!) but it’s not the WORSE movie I’ve seen!
Posted in Film, Geek Fun Tagged with: Anne Hathaway, Christopher Nolan, David Gyasi, Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, film, Geek, geekout, Interstellar, Jessica Chastain, Jonathan Nolan, Kip Thorne, Matthew McConaughey, Michael Caine, movie review, Science Fiction, TARS, Wes Bentley, Wormhole
Guardians of the Galaxy
Well I saw Guardians of the Galaxy and I think it’s an OK movie. Nothing special or as good as past Marvel movies (Iron Man, Thor, Avengers) but it’s OK a bit bland and feels longer than its two hour running time. I lay that at the feet of James Gunn. I think that his plodding, boring script that didn’t allow anyone to really shine is the major issue I have with the latest Marvel tent pole movie. They had so many stars that all wanted to have their big moment that they weren’t able to flesh out the main characters enough to make me care or event maintain my attention. I found it so dull that my mind wandered a few times since the fight scenes were too dark and muddled (for some reason he didn’t come in close enough to see everything) to see the short blasts of action. I’m not sure why Chris Pratt got the nod to be the latest hero but in this film he’s just not cocky enough to play a rebel with a heart of gold. He’s just a bit ‘ehh’ you know he’s attractive but not TOO attractive, just a tiny bit of a bad boy and no real sex appeal so the running joke of his being an alien ladies’ man fell flat for me. I’m not saying he’s not attractive it’s just that when you’re carrying a big movie like this you have to be distinct and he just blends into the background. Even more frustrating is the villain … urghh Ronan what a dull bad guy. The opening sequence was the best scene he had and so I thought maybe he’d do OK. You know super over the top evil but instead yak yak yak!!! I mean literally talking everyone to death before putting them out of their misery. I don’t know about you but think the strong evil silent type should be used more often. WHY must you explain your nefarious plans in such detail? Just destroy everyone and be done with it .. you want to destroy a planet! Get to smashing boy! Nebula … ahhh nebula your daddy issues bored me and Karen Gillian was not scary in this part. It might have been improved if she could do angry smoldering fury but she can’t. Just looking constipated doesn’t make a good villain sidekick! Now if you want to see a villain done right in the movie look no further than Yondu Udunta! Now that’s a prime example of someone who can fill a screen! Michael Rooker stole every shot he was in since he knows how to play a bad guy!! Even his knife weapon thing was major badass and his constant reminder that ‘he didn’t eat him’ is the perfect blend of humor with a threatening scary undercurrent that I love in a anti hero. Despite the limited screen time and lines as the film progressed I ‘got him’. He’s evil but has a softspot .. got it! I was surprised that Vin Diesel’s Groot was really good. The overall look and the fact that he was able to put more emotion in the same three words just showed how weak the rest of the cast is in the movie. I’m sorry but despite all of their talents and overall look of the movie (video game looking) they weren’t able to rise above the plodding screen play and they just seemed to be chilling as they collect a huge paycheck! So if you’re in the mood to see a comic book superhero movie than here you go it’s the only game in town! But if you want to see something good … ehh wait to see this your tv at home with blueray/dvd/streaming and if you must see it in the theater don’t waste your time on 3D it didn’t add texture or enrich the movie at all!
Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Dave Bautista, Lee Pace, Benicio Del Toro, Karen Gillan, Glenn Close, John C. Reilly, Ophelia Lovibond, Michael Rooker, Gregg Henry
From Marvel, the studio that brought you the global blockbuster franchises of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and The Avengers, comes a new team-the Guardians of the Galaxy. An action-packed, epic space adventure, Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe into the cosmos, where brash adventurer Peter Quill finds himself the object of an unrelenting bounty hunt after stealing a mysterious orb coveted by Ronan, a powerful villain with ambitions that threaten the entire universe. To evade the ever-persistent Ronan, Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with a quartet of disparate misfits-Rocket, a gun-toting raccoon, Groot, a tree-like humanoid, the deadly and enigmatic Gamora and the revenge-driven Drax the Destroyer. But when Quill discovers the true power of the orb and the menace it poses to the cosmos, he must do his best to rally his ragtag rivals for a last, desperate stand-with the galaxy’s fate in the balance.
Posted in Movie Tagged with: Benicio Del Toro, Bradley Cooper, Captain America, Chris Pratt, Comic Book, Dave Bautista, Drax the Destroyer, film, film review, Gamora, Geek, Glenn Close, Gregg Henry, Groot, Guardians of the Galaxy, Iron Man, John C. Reilly, Karen Gillan, Karen Gillan. Doctor Who, Lee Pace, Marvel, Marvel Universe, Michael Rooker, Movie, movie review, Ophelia Lovibond, Peter Quill, Review, Rocket, Ronan, Starlord, The Avengers, Thor, Vin Diesel, Zoe Saldana
They had me at Nick Frost dancing and from the first scene this unusual leading man stole my heart! I always root for the underdog. Especially when it’s Nick Frost who I find incredibly funny! In this film he’s Bruce Garrett is a chubby ‘everyman’ who works in a cube farm, goes home alone and just lives a bit of a dull life. Everything changes when Julia joins his office and as he gets to know her he begins to change. He rediscovers his passion and decides to woo her with salsa! A dance form he abandoned as a child after being bullied by a bunch of ruffians. Of course love isn’t smooth and his new arch nemesis Drew (Chris O’Dowd) is the bully in the way of his true love. The cast is rounded out by Sam (Olivia Colman) his sister and teen salsa partner and Bejan (Kawan Novak) who is a major scene stealer!
James Griffiths (Director) has a deft hand making you root for the underdog but also makes sure all of the cast’s characters are flushed out to make them ‘real’ with their own quirks that make you love’m and hate’m! James did a great job with Nick being incredibly light on his feet in the dance scenes. I saw a screening at the Arclight in Hollywood where he and the director did a Q&A. Nick trained for six months before the film started since he’d never danced before (never would have guessed from his slick salsa movies!) and was joined by the rest of the cast with an additional 3 months of training for the dance scenes. I asked what it was like to be cast as a leading man and he said he did ‘what the role’ called for as an actor. He mentioned that he came up with the story idea a few years ago but was busy with other projects (Hot Fuzz, Paul and other collaborations) so put it on the back burner till he had time. I’m sure being the leading man without Simon Pegg must have been a bit odd (but Simon did make a bit of a surprise peek). This was the first time that James and Nick worked together but they did such a bangup job am hoping it won’t be the last. Nick’s work as a romantic leading man shows off his range and his heart that wants to tell his stories to an audience ready for a bit of a bear!
I’m giving this film a B+ because it made me want to dance in my seat with hot fiery beat, fall in love with Bruce and want my own Bejan to go salsa with and critique my wardrobe!
What do you think of Nick Frost as a romantic lead? Let me know below!
From the team behind Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead
Spotlight hits, sweat drips, heels click – Nick Frost IS Cuban Fury !
Beneath Bruce Garrett’s shabby, overweight exterior, the passionate beating heart of a salsa king lays dormant. Only one woman can reignite his Latin fire. Spotlight hits, sweat drips, heels click – Nick Frost IS Cuban Fury.
Directed by James Griffiths (Up All Night, Free Agents)
Starring Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Paul), Rashida Jones (The Social Network, I Love You, Man), Chris O’Dowd (Bridesmaids, Pirate Radio) & Olivia Colman (Hot Fuzz, Hyde Park on Hudson, Tyrannosaur)
Posted in Movie Tagged with: Bridesmaids, Cherry, Chris O'Dowd, Cuban Fury, film review, Free Agents, Hot Fuzz, Hyde Park on Hudson, I Love You, James Griffiths, Kawan Novak, Latin, Latin music, Man, movie review, Nick Frost, Olivia Colman, Paul, Pirate Radio, Rashida Jones, salsa, Shaun of the Dead, The Social Network, Tyrannosaur, Up All Night
Director: Harald Zwart – Cast: Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower, Robert Sheehan, Kevin Zegers, Aidan Turner
Posted in Film Tagged with: Aidan Turner, Fantasy, film, film review, Godfrey Gao, Harald Zwart, Jamie Campbell Bower, Kevin Zegers, Lily Collins, Movie, movie review, Review, Robert Sheehan, Twilight