Weekend Forecast for November 4-6, 2016
By Reagen Sulewski
November 4, 2016
And so finally, after all that slog through October, our rewards begin to appear. I'm not saying it's universal, but hey – watchable, commercially successful films, they're a thing again!
While Captain America 3 started off Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it's this weekend's Doctor Strange that really sends the MCU in a new direction, changing the battlefield from one of physics to one of metaphysics. Basically, this is where things start to get weird.
Benedict Cumberbatch (swallowing his accent) stars in the title role as Stephen Strange, a talented but reckless neurosurgeon who, after an accident that leaves him unable to perform surgery, embarks on a spiritual journey. He is inducted into a society of mystics who protect reality from attacks of the magical variety. After squeegeeing his third eye clean, he takes on the role of Sorcerer Supreme to fight a former master of the mystic arts bent on unwinding reality as we know it. Basically, it's Batman Begins With Magic.
Borrowing a ton visually from the world-bending effects of Inception, it's a more cerebral take on superhero battles than past Marvel films, but a bit of a risk with the lesser name recognition for the character. Also, there's the jump that's being asked of the audience, to go from explosions to ...whatever they have in store for us. And I'm being vague because the ads have been very light on revealing just what this is about other than the broad strokes.
That's what happens when a company's on the roll of a lifetime, like Marvel Studios is, with a mostly unbroken (*makes handwavy motion towards Ant-Man*) streak of financial and critical success. And they have stomped out a large amount of turf for themselves on various platforms. Their diversity has allowed them to branch out into less likely projects (Jessica Jones, anyone?) and means they have an eager army of supporters willing to go with them on excursions like this.
Directed by Scott Derrickson, known heretofore mostly from horror films, it's an ambitious looking film with a cast full of quirky actors – in addition to Cumberbatch, there's Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Mads Mikkelsson, along with Rachel McAdams as a love interest for ol' Bumblybits Cummerbund. What's doing the work in the ads is the spectacular looking visuals, the Matrix-like sense of mystery, and Marvel's built up reservoir of good will (not to mention a surprising dash of humor). Reviews are inordinately strong for Doctor Strange, putting it on par with the best of the MCU, and this should point towards a strong weekend of $85 million.
Family audiences have searched for a popular option for some time, with nothing particularly big since July's The Secret Life of Pets. So here comes Trolls, which may or may not fit that bill for you. While for the most part, celebrity casts aren't that important in these films, it may matter somewhat in this case, as it's Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick in the lead roles. They each have a tiny musical following that you might be aware of – Timberlake because duh, and Kendrick from the Pitch Perfect movies. They star as two trolls that march off to rescue a group of other trolls that have been captured in order to steal their magic or some such.