Doctor Strange: “It’s not about you.”

Doctor Strange is like other Marvel movies in its good sense of humor, awe inspiring special effects, and the story of a regular man becoming a hero. Yet, within all those laughs and spectacular fight scenes there is a bit of wisdom that delves into what we’re meant to do here in our life. What we’re meant to contribute. And it all resides in one line: “It’s not about you.” I believe what makes this line so important is how it contrasts against Doctor Strange’s original statement, “You’re just another tiny, momentary speck within an indifferent universe.” It represents the progression that Strange makes throughout the movie, as well as a point of view that anyone can take on in life. It’s the difference between believing that nothing we do matters and that we should really on care about taking care of ourselves, a rather nihilistic point of view as it were, against the idea that what we do matters, and each point of view in itself sends out ripple effects in the way a butterfly’s beating wings can create a hurricane.

Starting at the beginning of the movie, and the idea that we’re just momentary specks and the universe in no way cares what we do, and is essentially in no way affected by our individual actions, we can see how such thoughts would create a rather narcissistic personality that Strange portrays. He only cares about himself and what makes him look good. He wants to be the best doctor there is, not by saving as many lives as he can, but by picking the most interesting medical cases and then only those he knows he will be successful in. He’s not alone in this, as after his accident another doctor points out that he won’t take on Strange’s case because he has his own reputation to think of. But this isn’t just about narcissism, which is something that Strange comes to realize when his very words are said back to him by the villain Kaecilius, who is intent on handing the world over to Dormammu. Kaecilius is narcissistic in a way, in thinking he knows what’s best for the world. Thinking he knows how to save it. Beyond that however, he believes that this world is doomed and that on our own we can’t make a difference, on our own we’re only going to be suffering, namely because here there is death.

One could say Kaecilius is trying to find meaning in what he sees as a meaningless world. After all, what does any of it matter if it’ll all end in death anyway. He doesn’t believe in what anyone would consider a normal code of ethics. He kills freely, and doesn’t even appear bothered when his own followers die. This isn’t exactly strange in a villain, but his pursuit of Dormammu in the idea that there will be no more death, and perhaps his belief that it’ll undo the deaths that have already occurred makes his actions one that have to be taken in a different light. After all, he thinks he’s saving the world from the very meaninglessness that he feels. Kaecilius would definitely have understood Macbeth’s words,

“Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more; it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.”

Just like Macbeth, Kaecilius sees this world as nothing and empty, while Doctor Strange isn’t as aware of his feelings as such. Not until he loses the use of his hands, in at least the capacity to use them for surgery, at which point the entire meaning he has given to his life evaporates. Without that, he is lost. He goes to extremes to get that sense of importance back. He sees the world and his life within it as hopeless and empty. Even as he tells The Ancient One that she’s nothing but a tiny momentary speck, he really sees everyone that way, including himself. The universe has been indifferent to him, he had his great gift taken away because of it, if the universe had cared then surely someone like him would’ve been spared such a tragedy. Yet, ultimately, isn’t he given something even greater than the chance to show off how skilled he is with a scalpel? He is instead placed right where the universe needed him to save the world. After all, “It’s not about you.”

The Ancient One even points out that his becoming a doctor was never about helping others. It wasn’t about doing what was right or good. “You became a doctor to save one life above all others. Your own.” Strange doesn’t have a true foundation of ethics, he doesn’t try to do what is good, because he doesn’t really see things in such a way. Sure he doesn’t agree with Kaecilius’ actions, and he wants to stop him in a vague sort of way, though it’s not for him to do such, and he complains when he gets put in a position where he’s forced to fight them. Yes, he wants bad people to be stopped, but away from him so it won’t bother him, because it’s all meaningless in the end and he just doesn’t want to be bothered by it. So while he might argue his code of ethics as a doctor to do no harm, in reality he just doesn’t see the point of any of it. Just like Kaecilius, his nihilistic point of view leads him to be unwilling to put himself in harm’s way to do good, because that forces him to face his own mortality; the one thing he’s been trying to prevent in his pursuit of bettering how doctors can stave off the clutches of death. He too sees death as the ultimate destroyer for the meaning of life.

Once more The Ancient One understands this fear as she tells him, “We don’t get to choose our time. Death is what gives life meaning. To know your days are numbered, your time is short.” Because death isn’t what makes life meaningless, it’s focusing only on ourselves, and letting our fear of the unknown control us is what will truly destroy the meaning of life. “It’s not about you.” It’s about all the things you can do in this world, and for this world. It’s about all the interactions, and the consequences of those actions. Like any superhero movie, it’s a subsequent set of events that ultimately leads Doctor Strange to having mystical powers and rising up to fight Dormammu. It took not just his hands being destroyed, but a series of interactions with other people that made him who he now is.

It took a nurse at a physical therapy clinic to not just tell him of a patient who overcame an irreversible injury, but to take the time to find the file and prove to Doctor Strange that it did really happen. That a paraplegic was able to get up and walk again. Now some have asked what are the odds that the one person who was helping Strange during this time would happen to know of this one other case, but that’s life isn’t it? Sometimes coincidences happen, and things just line up perfectly, and if we’re there to act when it’s required of us and do what needs to be done we can make a difference in another person’s life that we may never have imagined possible, or even ever know that it happened. We can’t see the ripple effects our actions send out, we can’t see the tiny changes and larger outcomes to everything we do. It would be wonderful if we could, but all we can do is be willing to take a chance, to be there to do what needs to be done, and to believe in something bigger than ourselves, even if that is simply the betterment of humanity. Now beyond that nurse, there was Jonathan Pangborn, the paraplegic, who was willing to tell Strange of what he did to be cured and able to walk again, and where he needed to go to seek help. Baron Mordo saved him from the thugs, and then brought him to Kamar-Taj, where he also beseeched The Ancient One to teach Strange their ways and give him a chance. Then there was The Ancient One who did choose to teach Strange, and give him a chance, and understand that he would accept the choices The Ancient One had made, even as Mordo could not. These were all the tiny ripples that made Doctor Strange the hero that no longer feared for his own life or well-being, but chose to sacrifice himself again and again to Dormammu in order to hold the destruction of Earth at bay.

Strange finally came to see that life had meaning, that it was worth fighting for, that there is good and evil in the world and that there needs to be someone to hold the line. More so, that he had the capability to fight that evil, and so he had the obligation to do what needed to be done to save the world, even at the possible cost of his own life. Repeatedly. “The bill comes due” (Mordo). In the end everything we do has consequences, and so everything we do has meaning, because with each action we change not just our lives, but the lives of those around us. We have meaning in this universe because of what we can bring to it, and each of us are at times placed in a position that could make huge changes in another’s life whether we realize it or not. Let the ripples we send out be those to make the world a better place; let the universe know that you do indeed have a purpose and that it cannot be indifferent to someone who could so easily change it.

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Beauty and the Beast

No surprise if you’ve read anybody’s review, but this movie is amazing. As pointed out by this youtube video, a lot of the silly mistakes made in the cartoon version were fixed or clarified. And yet they still managed to pay homage to them as they kept everything that was so wonderful about the original alive. They didn’t go trying to rewrite it, but instead magnified the magic. If you’ve seen the cartoon then there won’t be any surprises, instead you’ll enjoy getting to fully know the characters. They gave them background stories and fuller lives to help you better understand them. Like why the Beast was so cruel and yet had servants who truly wanted him to be happy, not just to break their curse but because they cared for him. We get to know about Belle’s family more and how they came to be in a town that never really accepted them. The acting was on point with Watson perfectly playing a loving and bookwormish Belle, who also shows plenty of backbone, and Dan Stevens is a gruff and grumpy yet with a dry sense of humor Beast that you can’t help but fall in love with. Not to mention the songs will have you wanting to sing and dance along to them. Altogether, it was a well done movie that I can’t wait to see again.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Now Go Watch Deadpool…

deadpoolLet me begin by saying this movie was probably the most hilarious movie I’ve ever watched. With that said I feel the need to give a warning that I feel some of the people watching in theaters with me might’ve should’ve heard.

First, if you have a young kid, they definitely shouldn’t see this movie. Sure he’s a brightly colored superheroish (big on the ish) guy, but he is not for kids. It’s vulgar and graphic. Get a babysitter, or wait till it comes out on DVD and then send them to bed early.

Second, don’t take your kids with you to this movie at all. I don’t care how old they are. They could be full grown adults. This is not a family movie. There are some things no kid should watch with their parent, it’s just wrong. The parents should go, and, depending on the age, the kid should go, but neither should the two meet. If you’re both cool enough, talk about it later, but seriously that’s just wrong.

Now on to the movie. Not only was Ryan Reynolds hilarious and witty, which I expected no less from him, but everyone else did a great job as well. Every line perfectly delivered, and absolutely keeping with the image Deadpool is trying to create. Plus the fact that Deadpool can break the forth wall (only after he’s turned into Deadpool) made it able to be both a comic book movie, but also make fun of comic book movies. It’s like he knows they exist and he’s just playing it out, but the fact that his ability to talk to the audience at times confuses other people within the movie does make me wonder if he knows we’re out there or if he’s just insane, or both.

More so, this movie also managed to have serious moments, showing Wade Wilson’s true feelings for Vanessa. That’s probably the best part of the movie, that they were able to make that so real and moving while not making it feel out of place in such an over the top ridiculous movie. It could one moment be making non-stop dick jokes (which it does), and the next pining for all that he’s lost, and it all flowed well and realistically together. Though I have to say my favorite part was Colossus. I mean of course Deadpool is the star, but Colossus was a good character to play opposite him. His good hero advice delivered in that Russian accent was just the perfect counterpoint for all of Deadpool’s less than hero-like actions.

In the end, definitely worth going to theaters for. So go and have a Happy Valentines Day!

The Fifth Element

fifth elementSo the Fifth Element is one of my all time favorite movies. First off, Bruce Willis is his bad ass self complete with quick wit and dry humor that just makes you love him. The futuristic world shows the great advances we  may one day make, as well as warn us of some of the downfalls that are to come if we don’t change our ways. The excessive consumerism that leads to layers of garbage and smog covering the earth as we build up and away from it. Plus there’s aliens, not an overabundance, but I never like it when any show or movie has us going far out into space and there’s still only humans about. It’s kind of a let down. But while this is science fiction, it still some how managed to mix in this almost mystical story line that is just wonderfully romantic in the end.

Plus I don’t want to spoil it for you, but the whole thing I wanted to talk about was the fact that in the end the Fifth Element wasn’t just some perfect being. The divine light wasn’t just some mystical mumbo jumbo. It was love. Diva Plavalaguna told Korben that Leeloo needed his help, that she needed his love. And when the time came in the end she couldn’t stop the evil that was coming, she wasn’t able to do what she was created to do, because she didn’t know love. It was only after Korben told her he loved her and kissed her that she was able to produce the divine light. In the end the only thing that could stop evil was pure love. So while this is definitely one of those movies where people are fighting, things are blowing up, and Bruce Willis manages to reign havoc on 2 planets, it’s probably one of the most romantic movies I’ve ever seen. Definitely a movie everyone should watch at least once. Ha! Like you could only watch it once.

Frozen vs Big Hero 6… and Tangled

frozen vs big hero6So this popped up on my Facebook, and it’s actually been a while since I’ve seen anything about Frozen pop up, but the first time I saw anything not saying Frozen was the greatest movie ever. I have to say I’m thrilled finally someone else sees it, maybe not to the degree I do, but still someone says another movie is better than Frozen.

Now Big Hero 6 is a wonderfully deep and heart wrenching movie that also manages to be sweet and funny. It deals with loss, depression, and the desire for revenge. These are big issues and they manage it well in a movie for children. As also pointed out in this post, it shows women being smart and capable, and people from multiple ethnicities. I actually read someone complaining because the girl who was Latino didn’t look or act Latino enough, but I liked that the characters didn’t fall into stereotypes. They were just kids doing what they love and trying to make a difference in the world, which is an amazing idea to try and imbue in children. That you can achieve anything you put your mind to no matter who you are.

But back to me complaining about Frozen, which probably would’ve been a bigger deal if I’d done it at the peak of the hype, but still better late than never. First, at the beginning the little troll people say that fear will be Elsa’s greatest enemy, so what do her parents do? They lock her away, keep her from her sister, and make her afraid of her own self. They don’t notice that previously she did have control, where as afterwards it was beyond her abilities to stop the constant spread of ice around her?

Secondly, when she does set off that snowstorm, everyone keeps raving about how she’s unleashed a never ending winter. It had been a day. How do they know it’s never ending? Wait a week, it might just melt since she went away. Lastly and most important, while I think it’s great that Anna basically undid her own curse thingy with her own act of true love, I think it was tainted by the fact that they felt the need to make Hans evil. No where through the whole movie is there a hint of him being evil. More so they already had that Duke being the bad guy. The Duke is the one who tried to turn everyone against Elsa and sent men off to kill her, while Hans tried to stop them and tried to reason with Elsa.

I think it would’ve been a better message to show that just because he’s a nice prince doesn’t mean it’s true love. That people can’t just fall in love in a day and think it’s cool to get married, and that not every nice guy will necessarily be the right one for you. Even that though is ruined by the fact that they practically try to shove Olaf down your throat. Of course the prince is evil and Olaf is the real one you should be falling in love with in a day. And how he keeps saying he knows the love guru’s who would tell you how you can’t marry someone after only knowing them for a few hours, and then the trolls tell her to marry Olaf right then. Not only that but they sing that annoying song about how they’re both just fixer uppers. What happened to loving someone just they way they are?

If they really want to see a princess being awesome and saving the day and it actually making logical sense, watch Tangled. Rapunzel is the one who escapes the tower, she’s the one that gains herself allies that come to help when she needs it, and she’s the one who save her true love. Why wasn’t that hailed as amazing? Because it still involved a man in the true love saving the day moment? Like having a man as part of your happily ever after is bad?

Odd Thomas Book vs. Movie

oddmovieI reviewed the book Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz in the post It was supposed to be Todd… and while I won’t deny that this book isn’t a bit cheesy at times… I think it did well in carrying the comic effect of Odd Thomas from the book into the movie that helps keep this from being straight up horror… and yet still held that edge of fear that has you on the edge of your seat… there was some slight deviations from the book that I caught… like at the very beginning when they said his mother was sent to an insane asylum… though in the book she was still completely crazy and Odd doesn’t have a good relationship with her… considering she likes to point a gun at him a lot… as well as the fact that they just had Elvis as a card board cut out and not actually have his ghost interact… which might be better than a bad impersonator… as well as the lack of mention of the diner owner but it was just now that I realized that… because though she was a fun character in the book she wasn’t necessary for the story and obviously took nothing away from the movie…

The fact that it was so good makes me really sad it had a limited release and mostly went straight to DVD over some legal hassles… which makes me doubt there will be a 2nd one… just my luck that Hollywood finally makes a decent movie based on a book and they still manage to somehow screw it up… either way… if you liked the books you should give the movie a try…

Divergent Book vs Movie

divergent MI reviewed the book Divergent by Veronica Roth a while back and gave it 5 STARS… which always makes me worry about the movie… because the more I love the book the more they seem to screw it up on the big screen… but they did a wonderful job… they picked a great cast that brought the characters to life in a wonderful and startling ways… yes there are some things left out which is to be expected… but nothing you’d really miss… though it did minimize some of the cruelty that some of the Dauntless initiates displayed… you still knew who was all bad and it in no way altered the story or the impact of it… the only real deviation from the book was at the end in how some of the characters reacted but it was such a minute detail that it could easily be overlooked and honestly I found it a bit more appealing in how they showed it… but once again it wasn’t a big enough detail to really change the tale… Ultimately it’s probably one of the best movies based on a book that they’ve come out with in a while… at least that I’ve seen… I was pleasantly surprised and can’t wait to see how they do with the rest of the series…

Catching Fire Book vs. Movie

BOOK VS MOVIE 1: Hunger Games  by  Suzanne Collins

Catching Fire   description:

Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and her longtime friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol – a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.

Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she’s afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her even more is that she’s not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol’s cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can’t prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying.

catchingBOOK 2: Catching Fire   3 STARS

This book isn’t bad but it doesn’t have the same vibe as the first book… the first book had you on the edge of your seat with the action and hoping they’d survive while this book is more about Katniss trying to come to terms with her life… wondering if she should be with Gale or Peeta… wondering if she should try and calm the districts as the Capitol wants or lead a revolution… and ultimately trying to figure out who she can trust… there’s still action and a lot to keep you wanting to know what happens next but it just never quite achieves that same intensity as the Hunger Games did..

The movie on the other hand did both better and worse at the same time… just like the first movie it was nice to see what was going on elsewhere… when in the book you only knew what Katniss knew… It was interesting that they gave Snow a granddaughter, because it didn’t help show his humanity or make him more relatable… it instead showed another angle of why he hated Katniss so much and how he was seeing her influence everywhere… my main problem with the movie was that some of the clues in the book that help make sense of the ending wasn’t there… things they may not have made sense until later but I still thought were rather important in explaining who her allies were and what not… I guess in many ways since the book wasn’t necessarily my favorite it’s no surprise this movie wasn’t either… but they still did a good job with it and I can’t wait to see the next one…

Stardust… Book vs Movie

Stardust  by  Neil Gaiman   description:

Young Tristran Thorn will do anything to win the cold heart of beautiful Victoria—even fetch her the star they watch fall from the night sky. But to do so, he must enter the unexplored lands on the other side of the ancient wall that gives their tiny village its name. Beyond that old stone wall, Tristran learns, lies Faerie—where nothing, not even a fallen star, is what he imagined.

stardust

I actually saw the movie first and was completely delighted when I heard there was a book… as is the case where I see the movie first I do tend to be a bit more lenient on it… but considering the myriad of things going on in this one book and all the characters and mischief afoot… I think it did a rather great job… I’d give them both 5 STARS because I just love them so much… for the most part the movie does hold true to the main plot of the story… it creates a wonderful land full of witches and unicorns and fallen stars that happen not to be a lump burning rock… it is exciting and magical… but the book on the other hand gives a lot more to the characters… which is only usual… and the adventure takes much longer than the 1 week Tristan is given in the movie… and because of that he does many more things… also the characters in the book aren’t so inherently evil… the witches are trying to kill them, but there is much more added to them that gives them this air of mystery… not just 3 women trying to live forever… but ancient ones of an unknown past… and even Victoria isn’t just some haughty girl who thinks Tristan is beneath her… you discover her motives in all that she’s done… which is why it never bothers me to read a book after seeing the movie because even in good adaptations there is still so much more to discover… and with both of these I have read and watched them numerous times and enjoyed them just as much as I did the first time… if not more… definitely worth checking out if you love a world a fantastical world of mystery and adventure…

John Carter… Well, They Got the Name Right…

carterYou know I will say if they had cut the few threads that tied it to A Princess of Mars or any of the Martian Series by Edgar Rice Burroughs it might have been an okay movie… maybe not one worth all the money they spent making it or even the price of a movie ticket but okay… Yet, I hate it when they try to take something like the Martian series and then not at all follow it… it was frustrating through the whole movie as I watched it just do whatever and completely turn the world upside down…

To begin with I did have hope for this movie… after all they did make Burroughs a character… something he tends to do with his books is make him connected in some way… usually as the guy who was told the story and is now passing it along in a book… they did include the tomb he was buried in that could only be opened from the inside… they even have his alien dog… other than that they basically kept some names the same and then they decided to do their own thing…mars princess

In some ways they seemed to have begun to include the 2nd book… The Gods of Mars… but it’s barely tapping into that but that’s the only reasoning I have of some of the things they talked about and showed…

They began to destroy the book when they gave John Carter a family that was killed… he never had a family… heck he didn’t even know how old he was… his past is very mysterious and he only knows that he has some distant relations in Virginia who call him Uncle Jack… but Captain Powell is his friend who he’s out gold digging with but they’re driven to this cave by Indians… at no point is he ever a fellow of disrepute… he’s a good respectable gentleman… in fact he frequently refers to himself as a Virginian Gentleman… he believes in fighting for what is right, in loyalty and honor… he isn’t going to turn down a woman in need… he isn’t going to jump and grab a shot gun of a man… even if he is an 18 foot tall alien… who is obviously showing him no harm… and he isn’t going to hock a loogey at people and in any way show himself less that someone to be respected…

mars godsAnd how they touch on The Gods of Mars is by including the Therns… they are not a powerful race… though they were revered as gods… they can’t change forms or do all these mysterious things… they’re more mythical than anything… though John Carter does meet them in the 2nd book they’re not as great as they make themselves out to be… and the 9th ray is a power that has been used on Mars/Barsoom for years… it’s how they control everything… and it’s just power… not some crazy force they made it out to be…

But the main problem with this movie is they tried to humanize them… they tried to recreate them into today’s standards… The people of mars… the red and the green and all the other colors that come into play later… are a warrior race… they do not care for peace… in fact they believe it’s peace that led to the destruction of Barsoom… being an assassin is a respectable profession… they believe in fighting to the death… but they do have a code of honor… so they’re not just some mad killing race… but they tried to give them our wish for peace… John Carter does bring about uniting many of the races… but that takes like 11 books to get too… and it definitely has nothing to do with anything that happened in that movie… but Burroughs did a great job of creating a whole other world that we can feel for and even relate to in some ways but is vastly different than our in others… they are aliens… they have different codes and beliefs… whoever wrote the script for this movie took the basic elements but left out the greatest parts…

In short… it failed…

Apparently though other people did like this movie… if you’d like to see that such do exist check out TIWAM… everyone is entitled to their own opinion and I know mine can be a bit crazy at times when it comes to Burroughs…

in the end though… John Carter still lives!