Movie reviews


Doctor Strange has been out for a couple of weeks and I decided to see it yesterday. I’m going to preface this review with a warning that if you’re susceptible to seizures or motion sickness, you might want to skip watching this in 3D. My attitude about 3D movies has mellowed a bit lately, but during the scene where Strange gets an introduction into what really goes on, my thoughts were that this could be seizure-inducing. There’s a LOT of bright colors that flicker and flash, and the objects he goes by and through change shape and move very quickly. And that was watching it in 2D. I don’t have either of those kinds of health problems, so I don’t know if I’m right or not, however.

On to the movie itself. It opens with a fight sequence that lets you know up front that reality can be warped and makes hand-to-hand combat a lot more challenging. This comes into play again at the end of the movie where another variable is introduced that means you could get sideswiped from anywhere.

From there, we meet Stephen Strange, a neurosurgeon who is talented and arrogant enough that he can pick and choose which cases he takes. But that arrogance leads to his hands being badly damaged, and all attempts to repair them fail, to the point where all he’s got left is the longshot of Eastern mysticism.

Strange’s desperation pays off, he finds the right place to go and he learns he doesn’t really know anything. But the brilliance that helped him get two degrees at the same time means he learns this quick, too, and makes a few leaps that others can’t. A natural talent for the mystic arts helps him with much of the rest when the bad guys come back, and we can see he’s a lot more confident at the end of the movie with a better grasp of what’s important. He projects a kind of “don’t mess with me” air about him.

I hadn’t really read up much about the movie before seeing it, but during the point where Strange is picking out which case to work on, I was thinking, “Wait, is he really doing that there? And how long has he been looking at that? That’s stupid.” And that’s right about that time is when he got a first-hand lesson about why you don’t do that, especially not there. If you watch the credits, there’s a PSA about this right at the end.

There’s a couple other good distinctions in the movies, such as the Avengers handle physical threats and they’ll handle mental/astral threats. Another was if someone can’t handle the concept of spells, maybe they can if it’s more like computer programming. So it makes the movie a bit more approachable.

There’s attempts at humor in the movie, but I haven’t decided if they’re just due to how Strange conducts himself, even when he’s trying for a joke and we get to watch it fall flat, or whether they just weren’t that funny.

Stick around for the credits. The mid-credits scene and post-credits scene set up two more movies.


Can I watch it without having watched Civil War?


Good news! If you have Netflix, Civil War will be available this month. Er, on Christmas. Ah, well.

$Wife and I had thought about going to see either Alliance or the new Harry Potter-verse movie last weekend, but laziness won.


This is one of the few things that bugs me about the Marvel movies. I feel like I’m missing out on something if I don’t watch every movie, in the right order, and to completion And that I’ll be left saying “huh? Where’d that come from” in some future movie when the answer is “well, if you’d watched the scene after the short credits that followed the post-credits scene in , it would all make sense”.


Netflix giveth, and Netflix taketh away. Christmas Vacation isn’t on Netflix this year, but we get Civil War (which I’ve got on disc anyway, but sometimes Netflix is easier).


I am amazed at my laziness about DVDs already sometimes. Putting a shiny disk in a slot has gotten extremely difficult of late.

On the plus side, I’m weaning myself off buying physical media.

$Wife always complains that Halloween isn’t available on, er, Halloween. It never seems to get picked up by any of the streaming services. it does mean we might try one or two odd horror movies a year we might not watch otherwise.


Seems like the few I’ve wanted to buy lately have been the same price for both digital only (through like Vudu or Amazon) and for the Blu-Ray plus digital copy. I’d rather have the disc plus. Also, the FF/REW/Pause functions are always so much less hassle when you’re watching the disc.


No, you don’t have to see Civil War to watch this movie. It’s a completely independent story where the Avengers or any other characters don’t even enter into it, except in the most minor ways: they’re mentioned in the movies in that “they handle this, we handle that” scene, and one of the credits scenes had him talking to one of the Avengers.

Sometimes the credits scenes are just a hint about what an upcoming movie will be. The one in the Ant-Man credits was a scene directly from Civil War, so if you didn’t see it, you didn’t miss anything.

I think I will always like physical media because then I have more control over where and how I watch what’s on it. Everything else, especially those with DRM up the wazoo, are “you’ll watch this the way we say you’ll watch it, and don’t even think about skipping past the don’t be a pirate notice and all the previews and all the other things we’re going to force you to watch before we’ll deign to let you watch the movie or TV show”.


A thousand times this!

Physical media I can rip and put on my NAS so I have backups of everything and the convenience of streaming.


Some movies I really don’t care enough about to own. I like the ability to buy and own a movie, you never know when some puritan government action is going to censor something, but most movies I’m just fine catching on Netfilix.


Plus, I like the cover artwork, except for the discount re-releases where they just have a picture of one of the characters on the cover like Shrek or Jack Skellington. I have actually started buying some VHS tapes from the local bookstore for $1 each, just so I can take out the sheet from the tape case.


Went to see this with the wife on Sunday. It was a good ride, didn’t seem overly comic book-y.

The theater showed the trailer for Rogue One. I’ve been trying to avoid being exposed to too much hype and such for Star Wars and Star Trek movies. I prefer to go in cold, without preconceived notions or looking for plot points. For example, JarJar was much less stupid/offensive to me than he was to my buddy who had already decided that he didn’t like the direction the movie was going to take with all the CGI. The Rogue One trailer was good, though; it doesn’t give away too much, so I’m still looking forward to watching it when it comes out.


You mean the old-style heavy plastic cases? I feel like those started being phased out even near the end of VHS, when you started seeing them in cardboard sleeves.


I watched Nightcrawler a couple weekends ago. It’s the story of a peculiar guy who becomes intrigued with independent news photographers and the business of capturing events and selling the footage to local TV stations.

Jake Gyllenhaal is downright disturbing as he dives deeper and deeper into the world of capturing - and then creating - the newsworthy events that happen in LA night after night. From the moment you meet him, you realize something ain’t quite right with him and the more you learn about him, the more afraid of him you become. He has delusions of grandeur. Boundary issues. Control issues. An exaggerated sense of what his work is really worth.

There are a couple subplots that are alluded to, but never really explained in full - it’s more left to your imagination and you have to wait until later to get confirmation that yep, that’s really going on underneath all this.

Overall, the movie was good, but I felt like there were a lot of holes/gaps/jumps where you’re left to fill things in from context, or assume that a time jump has happened. I imagine there was quite a bit left on the cutting room floor to make a particular runtime.


Watched Angry Birds with the ooklets a while ago.

Was okay, but I prefer the older character styles, the newer characters doesn’t seem to be too “Angry Bird” for me, especially the pigs.


Jake Gyllencreeper… I knew there was something not right about that guy.

Oh wait, were you talking about his character?


He was on a recent episode of the Nerdist podcast and while I wouldn’t say he’s not a creeper, he’s definitely…interesting.


Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Star Wars and Star Trek have been around a long time and both have quite extensive universes that stories can be told in. When J.J. Abrams began work on his new Trek film, he solved the answer of how do you honor the past without it tying you down by creating an alternate timeline for his film to be set in. So there can continue to be stories about the Federation we know that started out with the characters played by Shatner, Nimoy and Kelley, which could be called the “Prime reality” since that Spock is sometimes referred to as “Spock Prime”. And we have other stories set in the alternate reality (the “Kelvin timeline”) where Pine, Quinto and Urban play those characters and those versions of the characters are the basis for the current Star Trek comic book series by IDW Publishing.

Likewise, Star Wars has a very rich history of stories, and thanks to Lucasfilm keeping a closer watch on what was published than Trek did, there’s fewer problems with continuity because of the “don’t contradict other parts of this Expanded Universe or the movies” approach. When the movies would contradict something in the EU, they’d issue a retcon for the EU material to fix it. When it came time to begin work on the newest Star Wars film, they created their own alternate reality, but in a different way.

Basically, they picked the first six movies and a couple of the TV series and said, “this is what we’re basing the next movies and everything else on, and it’s going to tie together”. All other stories, video games, TV series and even the first version of the Star Tours amusement park ride are now considered to be in the “Star Wars Legends” continuity. All of that is still official and still officially licensed, but it’s no longer relevant to what we’ll see in the future. It could almost be considered fan fiction at this point.

It is always tricky any time you venture into prequel territory because you’ve got an ending already established that you have to match, yet present something new that will be interesting. In this case, Rogue One also pulls double-duty as tying Star Wars Rebels into Star Wars: A New Hope. We saw Princess Leia entrust the Death Star plans to R2-D2 before her ship was boarded. Now we see how she got them in the first place, with a lot of sacrifices by a lot of people, and the connection between the animated TV series and the movie is done in subtle ways, such as references to characters or the use of a ship first seen in Rebels being used during a battle in Rogue.

Advances in CGI means it’s possible to bring back characters you couldn’t otherwise, such as Grand Moff Tarkin, Mon Mothma (who had the “Many Bothans died to bring us this information” line in Return of the Jedi), Leia, and Bail Organa (her dad), at the age they were the first time we saw them. There’s still a few critics that are having problems with how those younger images appear in the film, just like they did with Hero Boy in The Polar Express, which is referred to as the “uncanny valley”. But since I don’t remember when I last watched A New Hope, I personally can’t say how accurate that is.

I think this is a good first effort in the post-Lucas Star Wars universe that will give us additional stories to fill in the areas between the major movies and even some of the upcoming TV series. There was at least one point where i was expecting a last-minute rescue and thankfully they avoided that cliche.

It wasn’t until after I got back home to write this that I found out that Alan Tudyk provided the motion capture and voice of the K-2SO droid, as well as improvising or altering some lines while trying to avoid going too far and making the droid “distractingly funny” like Jar Jar. He did really good with that, providing snark and even a realistic attitude. I also liked that Mads Mikkelsen got to play a hero since he so often gets cast as a villain.

So, if you’re looking for a new slice of Star Wars that will still have familiar elements in it, this will fit the bill.


Rogue One was a pretty decent remake of The Dirty Dozen. I did get super excited by the end though and only through sheer force of will was my daughter able to stop me from watching episode IV right after we got home.

My daughter has stated a couple times we need to do a marathon of the movies since seeing this one and episode 7. She saw them before, but didn’t understand them very well, now she wants to watch and understand what’s going on.


My pre-teen daughter is a huge Star Wars fan, especially of the original trilogy (I created a monster here). You can make a very good educated guess on exactly which Star Wars movie went in the Blu-ray player just after getting back from our first showing of Rogue One. :wink: