Benedict Cumberbatch

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Marvel Movie News

‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ Leak Shows Doctor Strange

While we wait for the trailer, check out a cool Spider-Man: No Way Home leak featuring who appears to be Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange along with Spidey. According to the Twitter user who posted the image, the scene features the Tom Holland Spider-Man meeting Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange (the two first met during Infinity War).

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Marvel Movie News

‘Doctor Strange’ 2 Rewritten Because He’s A White Male

It’s learned Marvel had to rewrite Doctor Strange 2 due to the titular character being a white male character which is directly related to the WandaVision Disney Plus series. It has previously been reported that Benedict Cumberbatch and Doctor Strange were supposed to appear at the end of WandaVision to help out Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet

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Movie News

Benedict Cumberbatch Narrates Dungeons & Dragons Drizzt Short

Benedict Cumberbatch, known to fans as Marvel’s Doctor Strange, narrates a cool Dungeons & Dragons animated short about the hero, Drizzt. Wizards of the Coast today announced a summer-long celebration of all things Drizzt Do’Urden, the iconic Dungeons & Dragons hero made famous in countless (30+) novels penned by New York Times best-selling author R.A.

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Movie News Reviews

Review: The Imitation Game (2014)

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Facsimile of History

[Continuing our 2015 Academy Award Roundup]

A Film Review of The Imitation Game

 

Welcome back ladies and gentlemen to another World War II dramatic period piece because 1) why not? 2) it is always difficult to ignore during award season and 3) The number of brilliant individuals whose singular contributions to this highly romanticized global conflict is seemingly endless as their tales continue to enter the mainstream.  I have an admitted fatigue with WW II films because they’ve become just as predictable as zombie films, are more concerned with glorifying heroism (and violence) than anything else and between movies, TV and video games; I’m just sick and tired of seeing Nazis in any capacity.  Enter The Imitation Game, a film that tells a story of British mathematician Alan Turing who invented a machine that broke Nazi Germany’s Enigma codes which was instrumental in turning the tide in the Allies’ favor in the European Theatre.  Unlike American Sniper, this is not a war film that takes the audience to the front lines, but rather gives us a glimpse into the technical and strategic think tanks that have essentially made the evolution of war infinitely more efficient in its brutality than the use of sticks and stones.  Expect lots of dialogue, a minimum of action and a healthy regimen of expert acting.

One more thing to expect is a significant amount of criticism regarding the “facts” of this film and the manner in which they are portrayed.  Quite frankly, historians are foaming at the mouth to bite into the multitude of inaccuracies made for the purpose of enhanced drama and I am shocked, SHOCKED, to learn of this scandalous situation.  Actually, I am not.  I would like to think that those who frequent the cinema often enough would be aware of the truth regarding “reel” history, but for those who accept everything they see and hear as the absolute truth, let me make this abundantly clear.  Film adaptations (Hollywood or otherwise) are works of fiction.  They are not documentaries which are indeed works of non-fiction and should therefore be viewed as entertainment first and secondly, as an invitation to research actual recorded history should the story peak one’s interest. 

Although The Imitation Game credits biographer Andrew Hodges’ book “Alan Turing: The Enigma” as the basis for its screen story, this film has no interest in simply recreating a series of bullet points in Turing’s life.  Even if the creative license at work by director Morten Tyldum and screenwriter Graham Moore has been stretched beyond acceptable limits, it is still a work of fiction.  Perhaps critics are frustrated that the possible slander of Turing’s legacy, as suggested by moments in the film, is the lasting impression that will be absorbed into the global culture’s zeitgeist.   My suggestion is that if this film’s offenses are that outrageous, and then address the situation with a documentary that calls out the inaccuracies by concerning itself with being educational about the facts.  Sniping at it from the academic pulpit without something more productive behind the criticism will be met with apathy and that’s usually the way any controversy regarding the entertainment industry’s mucking up of history plays out.

Thus, accepting this screen story as fiction, The Imitation Game gradually unveils its true message through a series of flashbacks in Alan Turing’s life that most frequently visits his active Enigma work at Bletchley Park.  Brought up to be a intellectual from boyhood, Turing’s apparent weakness as a human being turns out to be social interaction and as often as this story highlights the tragic effects of his personality quirks, it also provides moments of genuine comedy which forced me to laugh out loud in the theatre on more than one occasion.  The interesting aspect of this story is that although it is primarily concerned with the human effort put into cracking Enigma, it does have secondary and tertiary agendas at work.  As the story progresses, we realize that it has much more to do with Turing’s personal life, the moments that shaped it and the possible reasons for his rabid desire to do what most deemed impossible outside of surviving and ultimately winning the war against Nazi Germany. 

The story’s perspective also flashes forward periodically to Turing’s life post WW II and the police investigation regarding his personal affairs.  These moments are amongst the most contentious for the historians and a bit for me due to the aforementioned third agenda regarding sexuality that seemed to come out of nowhere.  The final moments of this film are literally spelled out for the audience via superimposed text which explains the aftermath of Turing’s death.  Because the previous ¾ of the film had not been actively pursuing this angle in Turing’s life beyond mild hinting, this dénouement felt a bit awkward in how it was shoehorned in considering the seriousness of its message.  This last minute curveball dilutes the message of tolerance and I wonder if this film would have been better served had these moments were cut all together.  Tolerating Alan Turing as a character was framed within the concept of him being an intellectual elitist and an impersonal narcissist.  His redemption was a genuine ignorance of other people’s feelings and opinions and the effort he made to bridge the gap of understanding (much like the effort that was not reciprocated to him by British society at the time). 

This film is an entirely dialogue driven drama and one of its weaknesses is its ability to connect the film’s most interesting moments (anything involving Turing at Bletchley) to the devastation of WW II.  There are a couple of action scenes that show subs, ships and tanks at various fronts, but they are very short vignettes to remind the viewer that a war is in fact going on, but it isn’t lasting and not particularly satisfying for action junkies.  There is also one scene that shows Turing himself riding a bicycle through a recently bombed part of a city, but again this plays the role of one of those “reminder” scenes.  Playing the balancing game between action and dialogue scenes is never an easy task, but at the end of the day, the editor can only mix in whatever footage has been captured (or CG generated) in the first place.  In the case of this film the only reliable change in tempo or scenery throughout are the flashes to the different points in Turing’s life. 

An excellent cast was assembled to support the protagonist in this story as contributions from Mark Strong, Charles Dance, Matthew Goode and Keira Knightley deliver respectable performances, but such is to be expected from these veterans.  This film (like American Sniper and The Theory of Everything) is one that ultimately boils down to one performance and its singular journey; namely Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing.  If you missed him in Star Trek Into Darkness or the Sherlock TV series, The Imitation Game is an excellent opportunity to see this actor produce an absolute tour de force when it comes to dramatic acting for the silver screen.  As an introvert, Turing isn’t a particularly interesting character, but then he is forced to work with his colleagues and Cumberbatch revs up his awkward charm and sharp comedic timing.  The regal nature of his baritone voice easily establishes and maintains Turing’s intellectual domination in every scene.  However, where Cumberbatch truly shines is in every scene where Turing meets with heartbreaking failure, frustration or defeat.  Cumberbatch takes every ounce of negative energy to heart and channels his reaction so personally that the audience feels it in every tear he sheds.  Those believing Benedict Cumberbatch to be nothing more than a character actor with robotic tendencies are in for a rude awakening upon the screening of this film.

Few WW II films have shown less combat scenes during its runtime than The Imitation Game, but fewer have shown the little people behind the scenes that developed the technology, research and strategy that was clearly the difference between victory and defeat.  The code breakers at Bletchley may not have spilled blood on the battlefield, laid waste to an enemy platoon with a machine gun or piloted a single bomber into the heart of the enemy stronghold, but their efforts and Turing’s in particular, saved England.  Despite some of the historical inaccuracies, I found this film to be entertaining enough at telling aspects of Turing’s life.  The production could certainly have benefitted from more focus in its narrative, but it remains to be seen how much the audience will care when Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance resonates so profoundly.  However, when you factor in the historic faux pas and the multitude of hidden messages that are heavily back loaded towards the film’s final act, I couldn’t say that this film has a realistic chance at winning Best Picture.  It is a good film that deserves the viewer’s consideration for the outstanding performance of Benedict Cumberbatch.

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Movie News Reviews

Movie Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

Back to the Past and Into the Future

A Film Review of Star Trek Into Darkness

By: Lawrence Napoli

 

Before getting right into this review, I’d like to chalk up a victory to internet speculation; which is basically two thumbs way, way up to all of you.  Back when J.J. Abrams was tapped to reboot this franchise with a throw back perspective of the original crew’s adventures, message boards all over the net lit up with likely plot points, villains and scenarios.  Abrams’ first adaptation in 2009 gave the audience a fresh new take on Kirk, Spock and the rest, but its success as a story was heavily dependent on plot points made famous in both the original series and feature films.  This brings us to the images leaked from Star Trek Into Darkness while in production and even more specific predictions hit the internet thanks in large part to the manner in which Abrams’ first story played out.  J.J. certainly played coy in response to all the rumors and speculation, but the fact remains that several key predictions of the online community regarding this film are accurate.  So again, I say to you all: well done!  Your insight serves you well.

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Tron or Trek?

The basic plot for this film continues to make similar allusions to the past exploits of the original crew which is at times its greatest strength as well as its greatest weakness.  What’s good about this aspect to the screenplay is the fact that the nostalgia generated from the audience does much to bolster the sympathy factor for every character as well as the stakes they are contending.  Of course, what’s bad happens to be predictability; specifically in regards to new characters that are introduced and situations that come off as far too familiar.  J.J. went on Jon Stewart’s Daily Show talking about how he continued to want to make these reboots appealing to more than just “Trekkies,” which is all well and good seeing how the “money demographic” of males 18-25 is less likely to be familiar with Kirk and Spock’s original adventures.  If these tales worked once before, why wouldn’t they work again with an even bigger budget?  However, what’s most impressive about the script is that despite all the action and all the past references is that writers Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof still manage to make Star Trek Into Darkness an intimate exploration into both Kirk and Spock, what binds them together as well as what drives them forward.  This intimacy chains to the rest of the cast which really promotes a family dynamic amongst the crew and this makes the audience care that much more.  Overall, the script delivers a very accessible sci-fi adventure that focuses on action, but delivers dramatic character interplay minus the scientific jargon that tends to fill out the dialogue of standard issue Trek.  

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Star Trek’s version of WMDs perhaps?

As for the action, it is a cavalcade of CG wizardry, wire-work and wreaking havoc with pyro which is exactly what this rebooting effort has been all about thus far.  What’s interesting, though, is that Into Darkness continues to not favor starship warfare as the de facto action option.  Certainly a budget of $190 million dollars can afford us a glimpse into futuristic people doing futuristic things without the aid of toy models.  Just about every character gets put into harm’s way with their boots on the ground which makes for some satisfying chase sequences and hand-to-hand fisticuffs at various points throughout.  As important as those elements to a Star Trek adventure may or may not be, seeing the Enterprise (or its respective counterpart) in action has always been a mainstay.  As iconic a vessel as that starship will always be, it is severely underused in this film.  Granted, the plot gives the audience a myriad of exposition to explain this little detail away, but the Enterprise is still vital in our protagonists accomplishing their goals.  I would have liked to see a lot more space ship action, and I’d really like for the production team to dim the lighting and décor on the bridge a bit.  For crying out loud, it seems like the command crew is operating within a tanning booth in the middle of an Apple Store!

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More Enterprise please.

Star Trek Into Darkness continues to showcase some of the best examples of ensemble performances you’ll find in blockbuster films thanks to a number of larger names such as Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg and Karl Urban being comfortable with the smaller, support roles of Uhura, Scotty and “Bones” McCoy, respectively.  As much as I’d like to see more of the command crew stand out, shifting the focus of a Star Trek movie away from Kirk and Spock is like shifting the focus of an X-Men film away from Wolverine: It just isn’t going to happen.  Still, J.J. seemed very diplomatic in partitioning specific moments for everyone to shine as well as bringing new characters such as Alice Eve’s Carol into the fold who will undoubtedly play a more significant role in Treks to come.  Peter Weller (a.k.a. Robocop) takes a break from his voice over work to do some live action as the fairly creepy Admiral Marcus.  His talents are better served behind a microphone.

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Was this moment the real reason Alice Eve was tapped for this role?

And speaking of creepers, Benedict Cumberbatch as XXXX equates to the best performance you’ll see from a villain this entire summer.  Of course, I refer to his character as XXXX because it’s a major spoiler who he really is, and that gets instantly spoiled if anyone checks out imdb.com.  If you know your Trek mythos, allow yourself this additional little surprise by limiting your spoiler-free research to right here at cosmicbooknews.com.  That being said, this man has an incredibly intimidating voice that could redefine what it means to be a villain these days in Hollywood (and it already seems to be paying dividends in his additional film work as he has also been cast as the Necromancer in The Hobbit sequels). He doesn’t seem much to look at, but his domineering presence exudes from his dulcet tones.  Cumberbatch’s performance was a welcome return to respectable villainy unlike Eric Bana’s Nero in the last film which amounted to one of the worst villains ever conceived in the realm of science fiction.   

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This is how you do the stare down.

Chris Pine does a respectable job as he continues to embody a young James Tiberius Kirk, and Zachary Quinto continues to amaze with his various reproductions and slight alterations to Leonard Nimoy’s performance during the original television series.  Separately, these men accomplish everything required of their characters, but in the scenes they share, I seem somewhat lost in buying their friendship has evolved to such a degree in such a short time to make their decisions in the third act come from a natural place.  It’s not exactly a lack of chemistry I am describing as Pine and Quinto nail the knucklehead/straight man routine quite well, but with only the plots of two films to build their camaraderie, it feels like Kirk and Spock are still feeling each other out and this uncertainty would not translate to such reckless abandon, both exhibit towards the end of the film.  Still, their evolution as Kirk and Spock progresses despite the fact they take a giant step forward in their shared “bromance” here.  I’d like to see Pine take it down a notch in terms of projecting Kirk as a hot-head, so as to accentuate his suave and smarmy appeal.  But perhaps this balance is only attributable to the unique efforts of Mr. William Shatner

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Hunny, what if it was just us?  Would J.J.’s Star Treks still hold water?

Star Trek Into Darknessis a very fun adventure for both adults and kids, men and women.  There’s lots of CG eye candy, action and character intrigue.  It is a fine example of popcorn films doing their best to entertain.  A third Star Trek adaptation from Bad Robot and J.J. Abrams is inevitable, but that film will most certainly have to take more steps into uncharted territory than its brethren in terms of plot points.  It’s not enough for J.J. Abrams to remix the tales of old with the aid of youthful exuberance and an old Vulcan from the future giving you tips along the way.  There needs to be more separation before anyone with a cursory knowledge of Trek knows the entire story before it even hits the theatres.  Outside of this dependence on the past, the Star Trek reboots continue to prove as worthy diversions of summer fun.

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