Doctor Strange a delight to watch
I respectfully disagree with your take on Doctor Strange. While I agree that the film never haunts, I would argue that it’s a beautifully executed, well-acted piece of unpretentious storytelling. It isn’t perfect. It lacks the simplicity of Iron Man, the political resonance of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, or the gee-whiz quality of The Avengers. But it’s an absolute delight to watch, what with its sharp performances, gripping action sequences, and mesmerizing special effects. What sets the film apart from other comic-book films is its sense of scale, its disregard for spatial reality, and its rejection of the self-serious, sort-of-hyperrealism that has sunk so many other genre pictures (looking at you, Suicide Squad). The movie never dips its toes into the Cesspool of Aren’t-I-Mature? Darkness that ruins so many other blockbusters. Watching the film, I felt as though I was watching a live-action re-creation of a great animated TV series based off a comic book I had never read. What a blast.
Magnificent Seven an earnest throwback
It’s no secret that Hollywood has a nasty habit of excessive rebooting and unnecessary franchising, so I went into The Magnificent Seven remake with a healthy dose of trepidation. It didn’t help that this was also a “double down” of sorts, as the original 1960 film itself was of course an adaptation of Kurosawa’s classic Seven Samurai. As I sat down to this 2016 version, I was taken with how earnest a throwback this was to the rollicking Westerns that dominated the cinemas in the 1960s. It carries the themes of bravery, honor, and teamwork that were prevalent in the previous film while also updating the cast with a diverse and talented group of actors who all bring their own set of eccentricities to their respective roles. The action has Antoine Fuqua’s signature style of gritty realism that makes the set pieces and showdowns thrilling to behold, even if they do tend to run a bit longer than necessary. It’s not a classic in the same measure of the original Magnificent Seven but as any remake should, it skillfully corrects some of the more outdated elements of its predecessor and has plenty of fun doing it.
(Brent’s full review here.)