Doctor Strange (2016)

doctorstrange-2016I freely admit that I was skeptical until the very end that comic book fans would ever get a good or respectable movie about “Doctor Strange.” Some comics just don’t translate at all to the cinematic medium. Thankfully, director Scott Derrickson proves me wrong, providing a cinematic adaptation of “Doctor Strange” that’s very much its own superhero tale while also embedding itself as a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Marvel spirit is in full force here, but the movie does take the source material seriously while subtly injecting a sense of whimsy here and there. “Doctor Strange” comes during a good time where movie audiences like some magic with their adventures, and Doctor Strange is that kind of fantasy movie for comic book fans that they’ve always wanted.

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Hulk: Where Monsters Dwell (2016)

hulk-wheremonstersdwellYou can’t get anymore Halloween than teaming up Marvel’s monstrous Hulk alongside the Sorcerer Supreme Doctor Strange. On Halloween Night, demons begin wreaking havoc in New York City, prompting Doctor Strange to do everything he can to slay them and bring them in to his holding cell in his temple. Thankfully he calls upon the Incredible Hulk to help him, and Hulk is more than happy to oblige in stomping some demons. Little does Hulk know that the demons are manifestations of human victims that are being held hostage by the villainous Nightmare who has kept them held in their own dream plains. Strange ventures in to the dream dimension to save Bruce Banner when Nightmare begins using the Hulk to hurt Strange.

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Dr. Strange (1978) (DVD)

drstrangeThe 1978 TV movie “Dr. Strange” is one of the many failed pilots for a potential series based on a Marvel comic. This is yet another of the many seventies pilot movies that didn’t just misunderstand the source material, but didn’t have enough of a budget to realize the concept of its characters. Dr. Strange is a man who battles demons and monsters, and uses his will to use magic. “Dr. Strange” looks like a supernatural version of “Quincy M.E,” following a Dr. Stephen Strange as he focuses his efforts on troubled patients in his hospital while accidentally entering in to the magical arts. The movie even goes so far as setting up the entire series with the beautiful Jessica Walter as the series’ primary antagonist, but the storyline is a big hint at a sequel that would never come. It’s probably a good thing since the pilot movie is ninety minutes and we only get to see Dr. Strange in full garb in the final half hour.

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All Hallows’ Eve (2016)

all-hallows-eve“All Hallow’s Eve” is the fiftieth movie involving Halloween in the last five years named “All Hallow’s Eve” but this time it’s more of a low budget Disney-lite family film. Its Harry Potter meets “Halloweentown” in one of the more painfully derivative and hokey attempts to build a franchise around a teen witch in a long time. It’s not to say “All Hallow’s Eve” is terrible, but it’s a movie that has way too many ideas and not enough of a budget or script to help realize them. So characters spend a lot of time sitting around and explaining things, rather than allowing us to bask in the awe of magic and fantasy. In “All Hallow’s Eve,” Lexi Giovagnoli plays Eve Hallow. No seriously.

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Ernest Scared Stupid (1991)

ernestscaredstupidIt’s really hard to ignore the charm of Ernest and his Halloween adventure. “Ernest Scared Stupid” most definitely has a lot of nostalgic value and sentimental value, but it’s also a very good kids’ horror movie where Ernest battles a bunch of trolls. Ernest and Jim Varney has just always had a good chemistry and here it’s on full display when trolls are unleashed during Halloween. Here, Varney plays Ernest as a garbage collector in a Missouri town. Hundreds of years before a troll that used magic to turn kids in to wooden dolls was locked in a tree and kept dormant. Ernest helps his three friends Kenny Binder, Elizabeth and Joey construct their own tree house which they use as a means of entertainment and warding off the local bullies.

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Dragon Wars: D-War (2007)

d-warShim Hyung-rae’s action film is a great concept with many possibilities that is never realized in to a watchable movie. While it’s not the worst movie of 2007, it’s an ill conceived film better suited for more forgiving Kaiju buffs. Shim Hyung-rae’s “D-War” is a confusing, poorly written, convoluted mess that only exists to host average CGI monsters, all of which are the actual stars here. Shim Hyung-rae’s film seems much better suited for cable, as its jumbled storyline tends to snuff out any momentum of action or suspense; it does sport one of the most droning prologues in cinema history, after all. “D-War” tends to fall in to repetition as a sloppy bit of fantasy filmmaking that it can never really decide what story it wants to tell. This meandering narrative does nothing but foreshadow future events, and the almost endless flashbacks hoping to bind the story into coherence fail and collapse in on themselves.

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Warcraft (2016)

WarcraftBoy it’s been a bad year for fantasy cinema in America. Time and time again fantasy films have failed for the most part, and “Warcraft” is one of those casualties. I admittedly have no experience with “Warcraft,” but for those unaware, it’s based on a massive multiplayer role playing game that’s become so popular it’s almost a way of life for most people. It’s a game so terrifyingly addictive, that a cousin of mine even pulled me aside once warning me not to play lest I be sucked in. Now that their Orc world has died, the orc shaman Gul’dan has used dark magic to open up a portal to the human realm of Azeroth.

Once a peaceful land ruled by man, the Orc army known as The Horde, now plan to populate the world and rule over it as their new home led by the noble Orc warrior Durotan. Teamed with a female half Orc named Garona, the human army of Azeroth plan to go to war with them, led by fierce warrior Lothar, their King Llane, and two wizards. Events spiral out of control though when Durotan begins rethinking the invasion and their leader Gul’dan, while Garona is torn between her loyalties to the noble humans and her people. While I’m still convinced video games just won’t translate in to a good movie, “Warcraft” is still a very good time and a nice bit of escapism.

It’s a mess narrative wise, and is painfully convoluted, but often times I found myself very entertained and intrigued by the conflict of the Orc breed struggling to fight for a new world against a human race. There’s also the themes of religious corruption embedded within the giant walking statues and graphic war scenes, which probably also helped enhance the experience. I won’t argue “Warcraft” is a masterpiece, since it tries and often fails to reach “Game of Thrones” levels of drama and intrigue. In the attempts to be just as adult in its character dynamic and ideas about xenophobia, and warfare, it becomes tough to follow.

The first half hour has a lot of information to disperse to the general broader audience, and I literally had to sit at attention to hopefully absorb what exposition the writers were trying to relay to people that have never been in to the digital world of Azeroth. Much to my surprise I cared about the characters and conflicts. I wanted to see sword wielding hero Lothar stop the impending Orc invasion, all the while uncovering the rising evil tide of his kingdom’s powerful mage. Director Duncan Jones splits the time of the film between the Orcs and humans and turns Durotan in to a very complex hero with his own ideas about what can be gained by invading Azeroth.

All the while Jones stages some fun battle sequences, including a showdown between Lothar and a murderous general in the climax. While not everyone’s performances are top notch, Travis Fimmel is great as Lothar, while Toby Kebbell does a bang up job with his motion capture performance as Durotan. It’s up in the air at the moment if “Warcraft” will continue in to a second part of its epic tale; I’m not ashamed to admit I had a good time, and should we be granted a follow up, I just may return to see how the humans win back Azeroth.

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Starchaser: The Legend of Orin (1985)

star-chaserA long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, uh—I mean, many moons ago in a distant universe, there lived a young miner and slave named Orin. He was a long haired heroic young man who mined for red gems for an advanced race for… whatever reason. It’s never fully explained. One day while in the mines, Orin and his other slaves discover a long lost hilt from a mystical sword that contains advanced powers. Convinced by his friends to break free and fulfill the destiny from he magical entity within the sword, Orin breaks out from his imprisonment with girlfriend Elan, and seeks his destiny.

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