Welcome to a much more star-studded double feature! It feels like I don’t watch enough mainstream films anymore but as I am trying to catch up with the few Marvel films that I haven’t seen, I landed on Doctor Strange a few weeks ago but just couldn’t find a worthy pairing for it until well, A Little Chaos the other day which is a period drama but still has the weight of a bigger film to match up. I am working on a few filns that are supposed to leave Netflix in June so those reviews should be coming up.
Doctor Strange (2016)
Director: Scott Derrickson
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Michael Stuhlbarg, Benjamin Bratt, Scott Adkins
While on a journey of physical and spiritual healing, a brilliant neurosurgeon is drawn into the world of the mystic arts. – IMDB
I am not going to lie that I had my doubts about Doctor Strange, but it ended up being surprisingly good. I have my issues with Marvel that everyone else doesn’t always seem to have especially in terms of The Avengers and Loki. I find that Marvel movies in general suffer from weak villains who don’t have enough presence to make them threatening. But then can we really blame a superhero film because we know the named superhero will become victorious in the end. However, as much as I still dislike using a bunch of Western actors in source material Asian roles seems ridiculous, I honestly do love Tilda Swinton as an actress because she is unique and then the villain is Mads Mikkelsen who did a fairly decent job as well. To be fair, Doctor Strange is a fun role as Marvel injects a lot of humor in their franchise which is a good approach. Benedict Cumberbatch, known for his Sherlock Holmes role definitely had what it takes for it since those roles other than the deductive abilities swapped into a superhero abilities were quite relatable.
The action here was different mostly because it was about shifting and illusions, something like what you’d see in Inception. There are lots of great moments and some comedic moments to lighten up the mood. Apparently the world of MCU is always on extremes of being on the brink of disasters, luckily the heroes always find their strength to make it a little better and in Doctor Strange’s world and his manipulation of time, things can just reverse itself. I may sound sarcastic or maybe a little tired of superhero films, but Doctor Strange is okay. Its fun but nothing outstanding in the MCU realm. The feelings I have towards Doctor Strange are starting to feel lesser and lesser everyday as I start to feel it being forgettable. I enjoyed it more than I expected so that gets a lot of points there. Plus, that ending was all about setting up for a next film or at least an upcoming villain perhaps.
A Little Chaos (2014)
Director: Alan Rickman
Cast: Kate Winslet, Matthias Schoenaerts, Alan Rickman, Stanley Tucci, Helen McCrory, Jennifer Ehle
Two talented landscape artists become romantically entangled while building a garden in King Louis XIV’s palace at Versailles. – IMDB
I’m going to be honest that I love believe that Alan Rickman is a talented man however, I have a lot to catch up in his filmography. With that said, it came as a surprise to me that A Little Chaos was his work as a director. I’m a big fan of period dramas. One of the main selling points is the costume design. In A Little Chaos, it delivers very well especially highlighting the contrast between Kate Winslet’s Sabine De Barra being her normal non-royalty outfits where she gets dirty and they are very basic compared to say the extravagant French royalty with their wigs and big dresses. Matching with the beautiful costume designs is of course my favorite thing about period dramas and that is the score. From the moment the score started in A Little Chaos, I was in love with it. It was so beautiful and matched the scenes so very well. Kudos to Peter Gregson on a great job!
Another really great point of A Little Chaos has to be for those beautiful period drama settings. In this case, it is set in France and the King’s Gardens of Versaille. I’ve been to Versaille back in 1994 and to this day, I still remember a lot of the beautiful environments there and I was just 8 years old back then. This movie has a lot of focus on the whole gardening aspect and the passion for it and how this brought together the two main characters. The cinematography and production set of it all is done really well. Aside from this, the cast here is lead primarily by some familiar faces like the ever so elegant and talented Kate Winslet who is stunning as this female gardener who breaks the societal norms of this period. Paired with her is the also very talented Matthias Schoenaerts who I love so very much not just for his charming appearance but his acting chops. Of course, acting as both director and the King Louis XIV is Alan Rickman and well, we also somehow always get these little supporting roles with Stanley Tucci. The cast here does deliver quite charming and beautiful performances for their characters.
Now, where A Little Chaos loses its appeal is really in the story. For most of it, it feel disjointed and to be honest, it can be boring because there isn’t anything too extreme about it. The romance is quite subtle where its just exchanges of glances and small conversations. It jumps to events that happen that don’t really seem to make any big differences but to bring in some circumstance for people to meet up. There is never any huge turning point that happens. I know what was meant to be that moment but it never feels like it had enough build-up to make it worth it. It just felt rather flat and disjointed and if it wasn’t for these charming talented cast on screen dazzling us with their performances, this would have been a snoozefest. Sad to say, but if the script was a little better, the outstanding character created for Kate Winslet’s character Sabine de Barra and the hints of chemistry between her and Matthias Schoenaerts who plays Andre Le Notre, the King’s gardener would have been quite the romance to watch. Still, it fell short of its potential.