Tag Archives: Benedict Cumberbatch

Strange Affairs

Hello Dear Reader

Doctor Strange

The Marvel universe is now complete, at least for me. I have read comics since I was 4 or 5, as my granddad owned a newsagent shop and we lived there. I grew up surrounded by them, Dandy, Beano, Hotspur and more. As I understood more about comics I found Marvel and DC, their characters had something different, something more. One character stood out for me, Doctor Strange.

He first appeared back in July 1963, so technically I am almost one year older. I started reading his stories mid 70’s along with others. What drew me to him was magic. Strange controlled powers beyond what others had, like the X-Men and Ironman. He went to places in the comics that were out of this world and out of the earthly plane. His powers were both mystical and physical something that you felt you could almost obtain if you knew where to look.

Doctor Strange did not have the greatest of starts, as far as the comic book world was concerned. Going up against established characters even back then, took time to break into the mainstream. For me, he had something different. I did not quite understand it at that point but he was vulnerable, unlike other Marvel characters. You did not need money, be a brilliant engineer or have different genes in order to save the world and universe. Strange was human.

He grew in popularity within the comic world but never like others. Never reaching that real pinnacle of the top Marvel character. Yet I saw him as the one who could step in at the end and save everyone even if that meant true self-sacrifice. The problem with most of the comic characters is how to kill them off without killing them off. In comics, their lifespan is never-ending since they just don’t need to get old. You age, they don’t or can’t.

Comics faced their own enemy in the form of a rival for attention. That of television. In the past, cinema had tried and to a degree sort of won, but comics could create fantasies that movies found hard to reproduce. Also, they were mainly in black and white, whereas comics had bold colours. Enter the 70’s. Television finally started to get it’s comic heroes and picked on a few it thought it could handle. There was an attempt to produce a number of series, Doctor Strange was picked as a character that could be done. There was a TV film, I know I have a copy of it. Of course here is the link https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dr._Strange_(film). It was ok but sadly or not, picked up. The studio picked the Hulk instead.

Move forward to now and how the cinema can make comics come alive. Marvel, as I have said before, have understood how to use this medium to basically make comics grow again. They have planned, properly. When Doctor Strange was announced as a project I was keen to see how who and what they would do. It was not long before we knew who was playing the main role, that of Steven Strange. Benedict Cumberbatch. Interesting choice? That name immediately drew attention and hope that such an actor would and could pull off this role. Gone were the days that comic book characters did not attract top names. Money helps of course. But there is that global element. You get everywhere.

The movie was something I thought might never be made. It was made and I have seen it.

Strange Affairs

Spoilers, of course, come next.

Doctor Strange is brilliant. The costume, perfect. The look of Cumberbatch as Strange, perfect. The right amount of everything, perfect. At least for me. There has been some talk about a so-called gaff from another movie; Captain America: The Winter Soldier. If you really listen to the scene in question the clues are all there for it not to be a gaff. Insight sees past and future problems. Keyword – future.

Enough of that as I really don’t think it’s worth more than that. I am sure others will try and argue but I am happy.

The set design, story, music are as they have been now, just comic book and more. Now the cinema can really make the comic stories come alive. As with all these movies, you can’t spend hours going over the hundreds of comic pages to tell every element nor should they. That is the comics job. It has the time and space to do that. The movie should grab you, pull you in and make you want to read more.

The assembled cast is brilliant. The production brilliant. Even the little hints at where this takes place is cleverly done if you listen. There is a car ride and the clue is there. The story is woven from a number of the comic stories which is fine and moves the action along at the right pace.

You also need to stay until the end. Really the end. Marvel and others have been putting little end clips which are gems. The first ending is just neat. The second ending is the cliffhanger. Stay in your seat, it’s worth it.

Doctor Strange was a hit for me. My favorite Marvel character came to life. It might be my favorite movie. But then again I have to wait to the next one. And the next.

How would I rate this movie? 10 out of 10.

Tagline: ‘The Doctor will see right through you now’

 

The Imitation Game – Review

Dear Readers

The Imitation Game.

Film Released 2014.

Cast Includes: Benedict Cumberbatch (Alan Turing ), Keira Knightley (Joan Clarke),  Matthew Goode (Hugh Alexander), Mark Strong (Stewart Menzies), Charles Dance (Commander Denniston), Rory Kinnear (Detective Nock)

There are many films that come with the title ‘must see’, of which very few live up to that media generated excitement. Once in a while, a true gem of film hits the screen and really does earn the right to be a ‘really must see’. The Imitation Game is one of those films.

Many of my prior reviews concentrate on big budget, big action, big blockbuster which is fine. Here in this film, is an example of pure balance. From the beautiful tranquil scenes in the countryside to the bleak cold waters of the Atlantic, this film captures many life stories. Some of them are never shown, yet by the virtue of one man and his drive, they are there.

The Imitation Game tells the story of Alan Turing and his fellow mathematicians as they attempt to break the torturous enigma code during World War II. The film has a time-travel feel to it, as it shows how Turing became interested in codes from an early age. The film is based on the book by Andrew Hodges – ‘Alan Turing:The Enigma’. I have not read the book myself, however after watching the film I may well have to read it.

The story is well constructed, showing just how easy a good film can be made. The pace is perfect, the ‘time-travelling’ does not distract from the story telling. Despite some reviews, I could not find fault with anyone’s performance. Cumberbatch throws off the Holmes character and makes you belive in the torture of the genius. The rest of the main cast can’t be considered as anything other than equal in how they portrayed their respective characters. I am aware there are some short cuts in the movie, but then to tell anything of length you might as well make it a television soap. At that point you would lose the grandeur of the film.

It did have me griped from the start. The movie told a difficult story of spying and code breaking wonderfully without the need to be abrasive. It also gave the background to the major character Alan Turing. What makes a film work for me, is believable people. There was the hint of more that just kept you watching. Building of the code breaker itself was unique, it was in effect one of the first computers. Others will tell you that the Poles did have some success cracking some of the code. However, as with many break through’s there is that element of luck. That luck was very simple but it made the difference.

What made this film have an added touch, was with the discovery of the code, the responsibility that came with it. I won’t give that part away. This secret was kept for over 50 years and that had its own destructive consequences. There was a sad element to the film, yet it never saddened the film until the end. For those of you who did not know, this was a film based on true events and true people. Thos people were kept hidden from many and this is a part of their story. As a rating, I would give this 5/5.

Tagline ‘next time you do that special crossword, just be ready for advantage.’

HayDay

Dear Reader

It has been a while since I last wrote a blog, a review of Captain America. I do intend to review X-Men:Days of future Past very soon. This blog is or will try to be, different. Why? This past weekend I had the good fortune to visit the Hay-on-Wye book festival. It was very much a spur of the moment thing really. I have always wanted to visit this famous event and without knowing it I managed to plan a weeks leave at the right time.

Why was it so important to go? Because of my love of books and writing really. I have been to Hay a number of times and managed to find a book I long thought would never be found. In today’s world, I suspect I would have used the internet more and located a copy. As it was the fun of searching through second-hand bookshops made it more of a discovery to me.

The actual festival takes place just outside Hay, in a tented village very much like a few other places that appear these days. The festival has grown somewhat and given the attention recently from BBC Radio 2’s Chris Evans, it is in my view trying to fire the imagination of all writers and readers.

There is something to be said for acting on impulse. Sometimes it can bring surprising rewards and this weekend I had three. The setup of the festival was very straight forward, no need to pay to get in just wander round and enjoy the atmosphere. You could however pick one of a number of talks that were taking place throughout the day. Having looked at the various talks there were two that caught my eye both it seemed were fully booked.

Well, time to wander again. This is when good fortune smiled. I talked to one of the many volunteers who suggested we check the returns. A quick return back to the ticket sales and guess what, yes they had two tickets for a talk by Tom Hollander the star of BBC TVs show Rev.

I did mention impulse before. Well, it also pays to ask a second time. Good fortune smiled again and I got two tickets to listen to Benedict Cumberbatch and friends reading from a collection of letters.

To listen to any actor live is for me a joy. You can hear the true reflection of the character they are portraying in their voice. The letters were from a new book each one read by a variety of well known people. Every single person who came on stage delivered their letter with passion and energy, to the degree that you did feel the real emotions behind the words. There were so many people who appeared each one standing out. However two letters and their readers stood out; John Lloyd and Rob Brydon. John Lloyd delivered a memo which was both risky and so humorous, whereas Rob Brydon gave us Richard Burton in all his wonderful tones. If he had said, ‘Broadsword calling Danny Boy’ that would have been it.

The exchange of letters between two World War Two sweethearts as read by Benedict Cumberbatch and Louise Brealey (Molly from Sherlock) was almost as if they had written them themselves. Again the passion, tender care, the off-hand comments all shone through these two people. It was brilliant and I would recommend buying the books;

The second talk had an equally wonderful set up. Tom Hollander who starts as the central character from Rev, along with James Wood and Jon Canter have written the Rev Diaries. They talked about the creation of the book, why it happened and how it enabled the author to expand that world beyond the small screen. It was a very interesting insight into the whole process and once again showed the passion behind these characters. Tom Hollander read two parts from the dairy, which if you think about it, you could see the character thinking about but in a television show can’t always articulate. There was also the change to get the book signed which I did. However, I did not just wish to have my book signed without making at least one comment. That was to Tom himself on his wonderful portrayal of Dylan Thomas. I also shook his hand, to which I think he was a little surprised. That to me added to the signing and the day.

What did I take away from my first trip to this festival of literature arts? Firstly that books are alive and still doing well. Secondly, that the festival is also very much alive considering the number of people who attended. Thirdly, that impulse really does pay, as does asking just one more time.

Tagline: ‘Broadsword calling Danny Boy’.