Okay, here’s some quick movie reviews.
Doctor Strange – Sherlock Holmes joins the Marvel Universe by losing his dexterity in a car accident. He’s a smug jerkface doctor who meddles when everyone else is slightly inattentive, but can’t pay attention to the road. So not only do I not feel sorry for him when he almost loses his hands, I am barely interested when his search to repair his hands leads him to faraway temples maintained by people who can use magic to manipulate a mirror world so they can fight each other in a moving kaleidoscope of buildings so as to not bother us rank & file.
The special effects are fantastic, however. There’s some great fighting scenes as good and bad mystic monks tussle in reverse-filmed street carnage. But there’s very little going on with Strange other than he has to prove himself to…do what exactly? He already knows he can do everything. He learns the magic arts in a series of boring montages and aside from a moment of humility where he recognizes he can’t do it all…he still does it all. The fight with the twisting building backgrounds leads to Strange flying into a digital space cartoon to fight Dormammu. If you don’t know, Dormammu is kind of Strange’s cosmic nemesis, which is kind of a blank face in the original comics. He’s kind of a blank slate here, as I can’t remember it. I know they want to stay somewhat faithful to the comic book, and the scene is noted by many for NOT being a typical superhero fight, but it doesn’t alter the utter blandness these Marvel movies devolve into. At least with Peter Parker, he lost Uncle Ben and has to live with that despite the potential of his power. With Doctor Strange, his obsessiveness to replace his surgical skills with mastering the mystic arts doesn’t make him a better person. He just learns a new life skill. Good for him, I guess. Passable, as in passably entertaining, but you can skip this and you’d probably not miss anything as far as the Marvel movie universe develops.
Lego Batman – Will Arnett reprises his role as the cocky yet emotionally oblivious Batman from the Lego Movie. The Lego Movie was funny, sure, had heart…and now the Batman from that movie has his own movie. I guess it’s easy to remember Batman being a complete jerk, so, give him his own movie? Like a lot of animated movies, the wrench gets thrown into Batman’s world when another character points out how ridiculous everything is. In this case, it’s Barbara Gordon, who takes over the job as Commissioner. Batman lashes out by trying to send an incarcerated Joker into Superman’s Phantom Zone, which is an opportunity to work in other licensed Lego properties for Batman & friends to fight. It’s somehow lighter than The Lego Movie. Moves quickly, lots of self-parody, typical cartoon self-awareness so the parents can nod along to the winks the movie keeps making until you think it has a nervous tick and should see a neurologist.
Baby Driver – Edgar Wright makes ridiculously fun movies. Hot Fuzz and Shaun Of The Dead might be homages, but they’re expertly made, often far better written, filmed, directed, performed, edited…you name it, Wright & friends surpass the efforts of the films they send up. Baby Driver might come off as a music video, car chases set up to Wright’s favorite Spotify list, with a story stolen out of the lighter parts of a Tarantino crime plot. Baby is a music-obsessed getaway driver for rotating groups of vicious (and incredibly stupid) bank robbers, led by the fast talking Kevin Spacey. Baby falls for a girl right out of every romantic song he listens to, and does what he can to give up his life of crime, a career move Spacey doesn’t approve of.
The relationships and perpetual crimes are improbable, I’m sure. Kevin Spacey belts out Baby’s criminal backstory while all we’re shown is Baby’s flashing memories of his mother and an accident that gave him his hearing problem. One of the villains, Jamie Foxx’ Bats, hovers over Baby while Baby hopes to escape this life in the middle of preparing the heist. And that’s just the start of his troubles; once the ball gets rolling, after several wild car chases and tense interactions with Bats & company, it’s a white knuckle race for Baby to get the girl and get out of town. Suddenly the boy who easily evaded tenacious teams of police cruisers and vigilantes can’t seem to get out of arms reach of anyone. The story might feel light, but the movie goes beyond the clever editing that contributes to the tight and exciting car stunts: Wright hasn’t made an extended series of music videos, he heard a movie soundtrack and made an amazing movie around it.