Doctor Strange — a review

Gonna take a lot of window cleaner to clean this thing.

Gonna take a lot of window cleaner to clean this thing.

My first introduction to Doctor Strange was a TV movie that was produced in 1978. I haven’t seen it since then (although that will change soon, because I’ve recently discovered that it’s available on video,), but I remember liking it very much at the time. My father, upon hearing that I had enjoyed this tele-film, proceeded to get me the Doctor Strange comics. To say that the comics were psychedelic head trips on paper is putting it mildly. Doctor Strange ventured into mystical realms that were best described as an LSD trip without the LSD. Once exposed to the comics, my love of the TV movie lessened, as I realized just how lame the movie was, compared to the unrestrained imagination on display within the vibrant panels of the comics.

This was why, when they announced that Marvel was producing a cinematic version of the Sorcerer Supreme, I was eager to see it. Not restrained by the meager budget of a TV film (nor the limited special effects of the 1970s), I figured that a new Doctor Strange film would finally be unfettered and just as crazy as it wants to be. And Doctor Strange, the latest superhero saga to emerge on the Marvel cinematic assembly line, does not disappoint. Benedict Cumberpatch, the modern day Sherlock, plays the lead role of Dr. Steven Strange, a brilliant (and arrogant) surgeon who loses the use of his hands in a car accident.

Let's see...where is it? Ah, here it is: Chapter 17, How To Bring About The End of the World.

Let’s see…where is it? Ah, here it is: Chapter 17, How To Bring About The End of the World.

Hearing of a man who used alternative methods of healing himself from paralysis, Strange follows his lead and seeks the advice of the Ancient One (the always great Tilda Swinton), a powerful mystic who winds up teaching Strange far more than just regaining the use of his hands. There is a secret society of sorcerers who protect the Earth from full-on assaults from other-worldly realms, but this society of protectors is under attack by Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) and his followers. Strange soon finds himself taking up arms–of the magical kind–to defeat this new threat to Earth.

Scott Derrickson, who directed the Exorcism of Emily Rose and Sinister, helms DS, and he’s the perfect choice. Having plenty experience in imaginative scary movies, Derrickson adeptly handles the Strange proceedings with aplomb, and in retrospect it makes sense to hire a director with horror movies in his wheelhouse, because Doctor Strange is the closest thing to a horror film that the Marvel universe has. But in this case, Doctor Strange feels more like a dark fantasy tale that’s a blend of Lovecraft, Ray Bradbury and the ending of 2001. As weird as that may sound, Derrickson makes it all work very nicely.

Hello, cape. You look like a very nice cape. Would you like to come home with me?

Hello, cape. You look like a very nice cape. Would you like to come home with me?

Cumberpatch proves to be perfect casting as Strange, truly becoming the character in a rousing scene where he literally rises up in the air, his cape flowing, to confront a baddie. Tilda Swinton gives her usual excellent performance, where she seemingly shape-shifts into another character made fully rounded just by her performance alone. Rachel McAdams is also extremely good, making the most of the thankless role of the girlfriend who gets left behind. Her wide-eyed reaction to Doctor Strange–who appears in her hospital, seeking medical attention–and the weirdness he brings with him is endearing to watch. Filled with imaginative eye candy that will make this a must-see on Blu-Ray, Doctor Strange is a fun ride through the mystic realms and beyond. –SF

Apollo’s Chariot

I loved the recent revision of Battlestar Galactica. And I loved the ending to the series.

*SPOILERS AHEAD*

I thought having the rag tag fleet settle on a planet that would one day be Earth was a marvelous idea. While building the Viper model kit from Mobeius, I frakked up the landing gear, making the ship sit at an awkward angle. Instead of tossing the model, I decided to save it by using it in a Post Earth Settlement diorama, showing people gathered around this old, run-down Viper. Here, we have a warrior who’s spinning tales about the man who once flew this run-down Viper behind him. His name was Apollo.

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Everyone listens with rapt attention to these amazing stories of a man who must have been a god, because nobody can fly!

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I “rusted up” the Viper by blending red and dark brown. It was actually fun trying to figure out what part of the ship would rust first. The figures were all 1/32 scale blanks from Historex. The ground was a foamcore base that was covered in plaster, then painted to look like the ground. I added sand and “weeds” from Woodland Scenics.

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The Apollo decal on the side of the cockpit is what sells the whole dio for me in the sense that we learn just where the legend of Apollo, the god, came from.

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The clothes and hair were made from Apoxie Putty. The spear and shield were made from plastic rod and sheet.

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Legends begin in the most humble of places, and they sometimes have a grain of truth to them.

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Writing to stay sane

Been working on a novel over the past few months. Started it in September, and finished the first draft the last week of October.

I lost my dad recently, during the first week of November, and as devastating as this was, I’ve still been working on the book here and there. Along with my close friends, who’ve kept in constant contact with me (and have been my lifeline to sanity), working on this book has also helped me to keep sane during these extremely trying times.

I’ve decided to self-publish the book on the Amazon Kindle. Oddly enough, it’s a ghost story–about a young woman, a police officer, who discovers she can see the dead. Having just dealt with my dad’s death, the subject matter doesn’t bother me, because the events in the book are from my own imagination. I’m no more unsettled by the theme of my own novel than I can be disturbed by a horror model that I’ve built.

I told my dad about this book, and he was all for it. I was looking forward to having him read it, but seeing how that’s now not possible, I’m dedicating the book to him. This project has been proof positive for me of the positive power of creativity–how it helps get us through the darkest of days and keeps us rooted. At least that’s what it’s been about for me in the wake of his death.

Rest easy, Dad.

First post

Hello, this is my new blog that will deal with my hobby of model kit building. While I mainly build model kits, lately I’ve been doing a lot of kitbashing and original sculptures–all of which will be covered here.

This blog will be my new online home for my hobby stuff. I don’t have anything up at the moment, but you can view some of my previous stuff at this website:    http://mcfergeson.110mb.com/