Movies: Hacksaw Ridge and Dr. Strange worth seeing

 

Dr. Strange

The perfect antidote to Tuesday’s election was to rush out on Wednesday and see Dr. Strange – a Superhero movie full of special effects that stretched out over a non-depressing, non-thinking, fast-paced two hours. I knew nothing of Dr. Strange going in other than it stars Benedict Cumberbatch who can pretty much do no wrong in my book. Unfortunately, the show I went to was in 3D which made it a bit trippy but nonetheless, I sat back and was entertained for a couple of hours on a difficult day.

Dr. Strange is an egotistical surgeon who has an accident that renders him unable to operate. He seeks healing help from a guru in Nepal (the Ancient One) played by Tilda Swinton. Through his studies, he gains magical powers and confronts the film’s villain played by Max Mikkelsen with mind boggling fight scenes. Also playing one of Dr. Strange’s new associates is Chiwetel Ejiofor who was great as was Rachel McAdams who played the love interest. I enjoyed all of the actors in this film immensely and thought they did a perfectly fine job in what were generally non-demanding roles.

The special effects were amazing and a bit like “Inception” meets an Escher painting – lots of fun with really beautiful geometric shapes floating through time and space. I was truly entertained from the beginning to the end of the film. This movie does not require any knowledge of the comics but will probably not be that interesting to those who don’t like the better Marvel movies (e.g. Ironman or Avengers) or at least good Sci Fy. For me, it was a perfect way to spend a couple of hours being transported to a different reality.

Hacksaw Ridge

Hacksaw Ridge is a good movie. I haven’t seen may Mel Gibson films but the ones I have seen revel in violence and gore with a strong “good guy v bad guy” theme. Hacksaw Ridge is no exception. The first half of the movie is the story of Desmond Doss, a boy from Lynchburg, VA who grows up with an abusive alcoholic father. When Pearl Harbor is attacked, he and his brother enlist along with all of their friends. Desmond is a 7th Day Adventist and refuses to touch a gun in basic training, which gets him a court martial. His Sargent played by Vince Vaughn (with a strange comedic smirk throughout the film) tries to make his life miserable, as do those in his unit in order to force him to quit. Doss remains in the army through a somewhat suspicious resolution of his case and becomes a hero in the end by rescuing 75 soldiers at the Battle of Hacksaw Ridge on Okinawa becoming only one of three Conscientious Objectors to win the Medal of Honor.

The acting is fine in this film. Andrew Garfield is believable as Doss and does a perfectly decent job as the doe-eyed Desmond. Hugo Weaving as Desmond’s father is really good and the soldiers in Doss’s unit are all well cast with perhaps the exception of Vince Vaughn who I just found sort of strange and not at all the type of Sargent that I would expect in the Army.

If you are looking for subtlety or grey areas in this film, you won’t find them. It’s not Gibson’s style. Also, in Gibson fashion, the movie seems to be unduly violent and gruesome surpassing even Saving Private Ryan in my opinion. There are times when he slows down the motion while building up the music to create an over the top scene. There are also some “bleeding over” of Gibson’s religious beliefs at the end where we see a couple of scenes suggesting a “Baptism” and an ascendency to heaven. With all that being said, we can thank Mr. Gibson for bringing this story to millions of Americans who will now know who Desmond Doss is. It is an important story that is well told by Mr. Gibson.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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