MAGIC AND MARTIAL ARTS
This is a really interesting story. In many ways it is the story that I was trying to write with my own story, I, Magi. The creators manage to combine Magic with Martial Arts and the results come together surprisingly well. Now, martial arts movies are a “guilty pleasure” of mine. I know some of the earlier ones in the 70s and 80s aren’t really good narratively speaking and that the English dubbing is sometimes so awful as to have entered into the realm of cliche, but I love the action, the movement, and the artistry of the genre. Recent entries, since the mid-90s have been much better and I feel they have come into their own thanks to great actors in the field. I love (& have seen most of the practicing martial arts actors–male and female–and have enjoyed them immensely, but I have a personal fondness for Jackie Chan, mostly for the outtakes reel that he includes at the end of his movies). There are two or three centerpiece fights in this movie and add in magic–and well, you have a strong action based movie.
If there is a downside, its that the movie is an origin story, so if you already know the origin of the hero, Dr. Stephen Strange, then you will have a pretty good clue to the first half of the movie. Still, that is a minor complaint (similar to knowing the origin stories of heroes like Batman or Spider-man.)
A GOOD SENSE OF HUMOR
This movie has a pretty good sense of humor as well. From other reviewers, some of the jokes seemed to be hit or miss for them, but for me, I chuckled at the jokes, even when the set-up was telegraphed a mile away. There were some truly laugh aloud moments, but the movie didn’t set out to be a comedy. In many ways, the humor is much more sedate, more dry than say, the Avengers or Guardians of the Galaxy. The humor seems on par with Ant-Man.
COMIC BOOK MOVIE FATIGUE
Many reviewers seemed to be noting comic fatigue for friends who they took to see the movie and reported not like it. I think that they fact that it is also as much of a martial arts movie as a “Marvel” movie also has something to with one’s enjoyment. If you don’t like Martial Arts movies then chances are really good you aren’t going to like this movie as many of its set-ups and structure follow that genre and its conventions.
In many ways, the director and writers of this movie did what I wished Joss Whedon would have done (if possible based on studio notes) for Age of Ultron. They completely went to another genre–martial arts movies, just as the last two Captain America movies have done to a larger/lesser degree political thrillers. Imagine if Age of Ultron had gone for a completely “horror” movie vibe with Ultron (and the twins) hunting/eliminating Avengers in pursuit of the “Vision” prototype.
I wonder if it is truly a case of comic book movie fatigue or rather a miscommunication of what genre to which this movie actually belongs.
IMPLICATIONS FOR MY WRITING
Fight scenes need clarity. As I mentioned above, this is what I’d hoped I, Magi would be like, except that Magic is limited, so they (mages) have to rely on fighting skills to make up for the lack of magic available to them. In the movie, however, I noticed that the fight scenes were clear. I think that at times (especially when I try for action scenes) my own description breaks down and it is unclear who is where.
I intend to try to work on that and make might fight/action scenes more clear and more visual in the reader’s mind.