In Review: The Courier

Conceived without the benefit of imagination, The Courier is a microwaved and nutrient-free copy of similar Cold War spy dramas, tinny with the shine of its shrinkwrap packaging. Planting itself somewhere between le Carré, Mike Leigh domestic drama, and a burlap sack, the film is confused in its inspirations, chasing other films of more precise ambitions. The resulting hodgepodge of derivative influences flattens the tension, which isn’t aided by an even flatter central performance. But what the film fails to understand about the genre its chasing is that they all came from a unique point of view; it struggles so hard to follow in the Cold War genre’s footsteps that it stumbles to find a path of its own, even as it navigates an untold corner of history. The Courier unfortunately makes the blanched achievement of telling the story of a man you have never heard of before while being a movie that you have.

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In Review!: “Doctor Strange”

Doctor Strange is about the kookiest, gleefully… well, strange film that Marvel has yet delivered to the masses. But while its dizzying visuals and doofy world-making delight in their abandon, its stylistic risks are somewhat dampened by not stepping a single toe outside the Marvel origin formula. Here The Ancient One isn’t just Tilda Swinton’s whitewashed character, it’s also the age-old narrative blueprint.

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Yes, Strange is exactly the superhero origin story you have long since tired of being retold. Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is an ego-maniacal surgeon whose prowess is defeated by his own hubris and pride. His path to redemption goes builds across an inter-dimensional mystic battle as he gains time-bending and globe-trotting gifts with the help of Swinton and Chiwetel Ejiofor’s sidekick Mordo. Cut and paste a few minor details and you know exactly what this thing is going to throw at you.

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