Doctor Strange Hacksaw Ridge

Strange Superheroes, Mel's Back, and More: November 4's New Movies

Friday, November 04, 2016 Rob Samuelson

The Chicago Cubs are the World Series champions and I got to touch Wrigley Field after a blissful march toward the ballpark in the time after they won what must have been a top three World Series Game 7 of all time. I haven’t stopped smiling in the 24-ish hours since it happened. Anyway, that’s not why we’re here. I just wanted to mention that because it will forever bring me joy.

Photo credit: Doctor Strange/Facebook

This weekend’s new movies feel a little more like summer than like we’re in the heart of prestige season. Superheroes and cute animated creatures form two-thirds of the offerings Hollywood has in store for you filmgoing folks out there. Let’s get to it.

Doctor Strange
Director: Scott Derrickson
Writers: Jon Spaihts, Scott Derrickson, C. Robert Cargill
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Mads Mikkelsen, Tilda Swinton

Marvel’s back at it after a few months off -- Captain America: Civil War was their spring/summer release -- with a character who is a much riskier proposition than the comic book/movie studio’s highest-profile heroes doing battle against each other. Doctor Stephen Strange is downright kooky, a mystical guy who fights abstract shapes and concepts (and demons). He doesn’t necessarily have the buddy comedy style that would lend itself to Marvel’s other “out there” franchise that worked wonders on me, Guardians of the Galaxy. He is a serious man looking for enlightenment after a car accident leaves his hands, formerly so talented at performing surgery, basically paralyzed. Director Scott Derrickson (Sinister) appears to have brought the head-trippy imagery required to make Doctor Strange melt minds.

Hacksaw Ridge
Director: Mel Gibson
Writers: Andrew Knight, Robert Schenkkan
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey

Mel Gibson has had a long layoff since 2006’s Apocalypto, which came out the year of his highly publicized drunken comments about Jewish people -- the fact that the Chosen People were not made to look too nice in his earlier Passion of the Christ was a warning that maybe ol’ Mel didn’t have great ideas about that particular subset of the population. But a decade has passed, Gibson has largely laid low, only taking acting roles once every so often -- his starring turn in this summer’s Blood Father was brilliant and wry and, partly due to his lower profile, a breath of fresh air -- but now he has directed again. Hacksaw Ridge is based on the true story of an Army medic in World War II (Andrew Garfield, thankfully back in prestigious films after his role as Peter Parker in the underwhelming Amazing Spider-Man movies), who refused to kill anyone, hence his role helping to save lives. It’s a war epic with a huge cast and it has a noble intention. This is the type of movie that wins awards, so it’s possible we may be on the verge of hearing way more about Gibson’s feelings on Judaism -- joy (this is sarcasm).

Directors: Walt Dohrn, Mike Mitchell
Writers: Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger, Erica Rivinoja
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Zooey Deschanel

A race of big trolls called Bergens move into the neighborhood of the smaller, more heroic trolls of the movie’s title, and they mess stuff up big time. The nice, small trolls get put in cages, potentially to be eaten. But optimism and a lot of musical numbers performed by the voice cast, especially Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake, help free the heroes of the piece. This is the latest release by Dreamworks Animation, the same company that made one pretty good Shrek movie and a lot of garbage Shrek movies, plus the great How to Train Your Dragon. Their record is rather hit or miss, so approach this one cautiously if you’re a parent looking to watch something with the kiddos.

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