Doctor Strange. Need a great escape this week? On the one hand Marvel Studios’ fourteenth big screen Marvel entry is very much a product of the Marvel Comics of Stan Lee. Audiences just saw a similar origin story early this year in Deadpool, and we’ve seen similar stories from Daredevil, Spider-man, and Hulk, as well as in the DC Universe in Batman Begins and Green Lantern. Yet in its first act you realize Doctor Strange is a movie a tier above The Avengers and Justice League member films. It also competes meaningfully in the mashed-up sci-fi and fantasy realm alongside Guardians of the Galaxy. As to sci-fi in its opening act Doctor Strange makes any visual amazement found in the twisty cityscapes of The Matrix trilogy or Inception pretty much irrelevant by comparison. And when you take the best actors around and put them together you’ve upped the ante for not only the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but suddenly every forthcoming superhero genre effort has a new benchmark to aspire to.
Everything Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, The Hobbit, The Imitation Game, Star Trek Into Darkness) touches turns to gold. His Doctor Stephen Strange is all of Dr. House, M.D., and Sherlock Holmes. And he transforms into an Eastern mystic with a vibe and look that assures us future roles that years ago would have gone to Max Von Sydow or Vincent Price will continue to have a ready actor to fill their shoes.
This may be the best recent use of 3D in the theater since the last Transformers entry. Viewing it in 3D is a must, from Doctor Strange’s spell weapons to a world colliding with an amped up Spirograph meets Kaleidoscope-infused reality, conflicts on Salvador Dali paintings come to life and M.C. Escher and Labyrinth-inspired battlefields, and on to journeys through distant outer space and beyond time, crisp clarity and beautiful cinematography reveals modern effects at their best thanks to the production of Kevin Feige, who has coordinated everything Marvel for both Disney and Twentieth Century Fox, and director of photography Ben Davis (Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Kick-Ass, Stardust, Layer Cake).
The Renaissance of movie and TV tie-in action figures arrived in 2013 with Funko’s classic Kenner-style ReAction figure line. Other companies focus on single licensed figures and getting the likenesses spot-on, but Funko’s diversification of lines meant everyone could find something that fit their personal niche at an affordable price point. A true throwback series, one of the overlooked features of the line is the incredible variety of no-names-taken, classic kick-ass heroines represented.
In fact you can find here the top of the world’s best, in-your-face, take-no-prisoners, genre heroines. Buy them for yourself, for your friends, or get your favorite as a totem to inspire you each day from your desktop. And where the early sculpts in Funko’s line admittedly looked nothing like the actresses that made the roles famous, the new lines have only improved. And nobody has better packaging designs than the ReAction line.
Who would you add to the Funko roster of heroines? Compare your list to our more than 85 suggestions for future kick-ass women action figures below.
First, check out this Baker’s Dozen of our favorites in the current Funko pantheon:
The 1984 adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune was a hit and miss film. Mixing science fiction and fantasy, and more of a space fantasy than science fiction, it only managed to grab a small legion of fans that would later make it a cult favorite. But unless your name is Star Wars, it’s difficult to get that sub-genre just right. Sibling writer/directors Andy and Lana Wachowski are rolling out their own version of space fantasy next weekend with the teenager-aimed movie Jupiter Ascending.
The Wachowskis are known for their Matrix series, their screenplay for V for Vendetta, as well as writing, directing, and producing Speed Racer and Cloud Atlas. What these films all have in common is a certain mash-up of sci-fi tech with often surreal, fantasy elements. Like the The Matrix’s cloaked reality, the written-directly-for-film Jupiter Ascending has its own cloaked world, hidden in plain sight. It also has a plot that could have been written by Frank Herbert. Yet instead of going for older viewers, the casting of Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum as romantic interest is looking to pick up the gap between the Twilight crowd and the next Divergent or whatever is coming next.
Three full trailers have been produced, revealing a Han Solo-esque Sean Bean and a Loki-esque Eddie Redmayne. The Wachowskis’ visual style seems to be a lighter twist on Guillermo del Toro’s fantasy world stylings. Extra special effects sequences supposedly are what caused the studio to bump the release date from last summer to February 6, 2015. The effects and outer space sequences might be enough to get die-hard sci-fi fans into the theater, especially since the film will have a version offered in IMAX3D.
After the break, check out the trailers for Jupiter Ascending, and see if this is one for the theater for you, one to wait for video, or one to pass on.
Review by C.J. Bunce
The magical, multimedia, computer-generated art of Archeologists of Shadows is at once both like something you’ve never seen before yet strangely familiar with bits and pieces of so many different influences. The characters seem to have evolved from the green planet in Avatar and the villains from the Iowa State Patrol borg police of Star Trek 2009. The compositions have influences in the creepy worlds of both artist Dave McKean and at the same time the otherworldly spaces of filmmaker Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth. The fantasy evokes painted high fantasy pulp cover art and the mystery and old religions and myths of The Dark Crystal. The colors and lights throughout the book are reminiscent of the work of artist Lee Bermejo. The industrial architecture conjures the oppressive cityscapes of Fritz Lang, and the surreal buildings of Antoni Gaudi.
As to the story, we’re introduced to a far off place, maybe Earth’s own future, the world of Terminator if the Connors have failed to save humanity, where humans have degraded to the point where they have only few organic parts. The protagonists, Alix and Baltimo, are indeed borgs, with elaborate, realistically visualized cybernetics with a definite steampunk vibe. They are on the brink of a crossroads like the dull citizens of George Lucas’s THX 1138–readying for the final steps of full mechanization. Like the cast of Waiting for Godot, they wait for something to happen, maybe godlike intervention, until a stranger offers assistance. Like Neo in The Matrix, do you act or not act, and which action bears the most risk, the doing or not doing?