Tag Archives: Benedict Cumberbatch

Therefore I Geek Podcast, Episode 88, Doctor Strange

In which, Tracy, Andrew, and Dude take a break from the election coverage to watch something more mystical and thrilling–Marvel’s Doctor Strange.  Our heroes run down the list of reviewable topics, including the scope of the film, the cast (with quite a bit of division over favorite cast members), the special effects, and more.  Check out our YouTube stream to hear Tracy’s Skype meltdown at an opportune moment.

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Therefore I Geek Podcast, Episode 76 Suicide Squad

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In which, Andrew, Tracy, and Dude unpack the recent weapons policy that Baltimore Comic Con posted and quickly amended, as well as DC’s new movie Suicide Squad.  Andrew and Dude found very little to enjoy about the movie, while Tracy felt it was a good time–if not a classic to span the ages.  Notable quote: “[Captain Boomerang] wasn’t just normal-guy creepy, he was candy-and-windowless-van creepy.”

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Editorial | Sherlock, “The Empty Hearse” Reactions & Recap *spoilers*

***** SPOILER ALERT *****

This review will be discussing plot points which may be considered spoilers. Consider yourselves warned.

This is not a review of the first episode of Sherlock season three, “The Empty Hearse.”  No, the season premier has left me with the warm glow of satisfaction that usually accompanies post-coital cuddling.  I’m reduced to a mere reaction, rather than review.

So… Sherlock Holmes isn’t dead.  We already knew that, since British television apparently has not fallen into the silly trap of creating a season’s end cliffhanger for no reason other than to frustrate fans.  It was still better to have the mini webisode that appeared several weeks ago, “Many Happy Returns,” which showed us Anderson—now fired as coroner and obsessed with clues of Sherlock’s whereabouts—Lestrade, and Watson all receiving premonitions and oracles that seemed to tell them that Sherlock was indeed alive.

It is well known among my friends that I dislike most female characters.  I usually find them weak, catty, and foolish.  As a reader of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, I knew that Watson would eventually find his future wife and I fully expected to hate her.  Instead, Sherlock’s creators have given us Mary, played by Amanda Abbington (Martin Freeman’s wife IRL).  I enjoyed her performance and I already adore her depiction of Watson’s significant other.

As for Sherlock…  I cried when he met Watson.  I cried when he met Lestrade.  I laughed when he met Mrs. Hudson.  I can be incredibly critical of television shows that have poorly developed characters and inconsistent plotlines, but these characters get to me in a way that I have rarely felt.  I could feel the pain that both Watson and Mrs. Hudson went through, and I could feel how it simultaneously pulled them together and pushed them apart.

Molly is now engaged to someone who looks just like Sherlock.  I don’t want to like her character or be sympathetic to her plight, but I cannot help but feel sorry for her.  The look on her face when she tells Lestrade that she has moved on from Sherlock pleads for someone to believe her words so that she can believe them herself.

I appreciate the use of romantic tropes as metaphors for the relationship between Sherlock and John.  Again I am surprised at how much this amuses me, since I would normally find this humor pedantic and trite.

I loved the pat exchange between Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes regarding the Icelandic hat and the profile of its owner.  It really highlighted for the first time in this show how much alike they are in thought process and intellect.  They are very much brothers.  At the same time, their parents… what to say about their parents?  I honestly did not think we would ever see the elder Mr. and Mrs. Holmes.  To have them appear and seem so normal was rather disconcerting.

I must say that the situation in which John Watson is thrown into on Guy Fawkes day was confusing.  The motorcycle sequence as Sherlock and Mary rush to his rescue was wildly unbelievable and that entire section of plot left me confused.  However, I am learning to have faith in the show’s creators that all of this will make sense in time.  Instead of a pathetic device to move the plot forward, it will most likely turn out to be incredibly important to the rest of the season’s storyline.

Finally, the beautiful and convincing act that Sherlock uses to finally get John to admit to missing him and forgiving him was disturbingly realistic.  I honestly did believe Sherlock (foolish I know) when he said that he had no idea how to disarm the bomb.  My feeble brain thought that John would come up with a way to save Parliament in a shocking plot twist.  Apparently John Watson and I are equally gullible.

This has been a recounting of my reactions to the fantastic first episode of Sherlock just as I felt them.  Post your own reactions in the comments!  (Please avoid spoiling episodes two and three if you’ve already seen them.)  Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to rewatch it and make sure there isn’t anything I missed!

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My Three Khans

I have been a Star Trek fan for nearly as long as I can remember.  My very first memories don’t actually involve Star Trek, but that probably means I’m remembering wrong.  Star Trek was really the beginning of my long term involvement in geek culture.  I’ve seen all of the movies and nearly every episode, some of them many, many times.  At some point, I have come to know the villains almost as well as the heroes.  While the Klingons are great and I love me some Borg, no other villain ever quite measures up to the ultimate Trek villain:  Khan Noonien Singh. “The villain has evolved so much over the course of the series, reappearing regularly—whether Trekkies want to see him again or not.

Khan first appeared in the Original Series episode Space Seed, portrayed by actor Ricardo Montalban, when he was discovered adrift aboard the SS Botany Bay by the Enterprise.  Kirk and company quickly discovered his real identity as one of the unaccounted for super-humans that escaped Earth in 1996 in cryogenic freeze (by the way, where is that technology? It’s 2013!).  Khan is shown to be incredibly self-confident, frequently bordering on arrogant, charismatic and yet inhumanly cold.  Anything that he deems to be beneath him or a waste of his time he simply disregards, often cutting people off midsentence, absurdly claiming fatigue.

Not only is Khan intelligent, but he is also unbelievably manipulative.  In forty-five seconds with Lt. McGivers, an entire emotionally abusive relationship unfolds from his initial reverse psychology to full-blown sadistic exploitation! (Check it out for yourself! http://youtu.be/UCMyxPSMxrA)  Additionally, Montalban presents quite an imposing physical figure.  He is very fit and trim, providing a strong representation of what an idealized human might look like, at least to 1960 America.  Tall, dark, handsome, and regal, Khan represents a counter to Kirk’s swashbuckling swagger.  Say what you will about Bill Shatner now, in the first season of the Star Trek he was pretty attractive guy.  Khan presents an example of what a superhuman should be on the outside, but inside he is very much inhuman.  In the end, of course, the crew of the Enterprise won the day and Khan was left on a planet to fend for himself and his crew.Image

Fast forward several years to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Khan is back and looking for revenge (it wouldn’t be very wrathful if he weren’t back).  This Khan is a little different.  Still played by Montalban, this Khan is a bit more ragged around the edges.  When he was first revived by the Enterprise he was still acting like a conqueror.  After years trapped on a planet gone to hell, he was much less a conqueror and more a survivor, especially since most of his original crew had been killed on the planet.  Last time we saw Khan there were flashes of anger, but they were brief, and quickly quelled by a man who was in complete control.  Now Khan isn’t quite as able to control himself, as his thirst for vengeance drives everything he does.  Frequently he makes rash choices he knows to be mistakes merely so he can pursue Kirk.  The character established in Space Seed begins to crumble and crack until finally his choices and inexperience get the better of him, allowing the Enterprise to carry the day, though at great cost—the death of Spock.  (They got him back, of course, but not without paying Nimoy a dump truck full of money—and that is a story for another day.)

A week ago Star Trek: Into Darkness came out in theatres, and much to the chagrin of long time Trekkies, the main antagonist turns out to be Khan once again.  This time the role is played by wonderful actor Benedict Cumberbatch, of BBC’s Sherlock fame.  Cumberbatch’s Khan is very different than that of Montalban.  Where Montalban’s Khan was physically the epitome of a superhuman but cold, aloof and inhuman mentally, Cumberbatch is emotionally quite human, expressing a full range of emotional states including showing concern and compassion for his crew members—something that Montalban’s character never did.  Cumberbatch is also an interesting choice because he does not fit the stereotypical mental image of the perfect human.  In fact he even looks a little alien, as was pointed out to me by another review. He is certainly fit, and he does have a distinct and slightly creepy screen presence, but lacks the commanding presence of Montalban.  This characterization of Khan also played up his sheer intelligence, thinking and acting faster than almost anyone else on screen.  I found a bit of overlap between Cumberbatch’s Khan and his Sherlock Holmes but certainly nothing that takes away from his characterization of either.

I have to say that for my money, nothing beats the Star Trek II Khan.  Like I said, I grew up on Star Trek and Montalban’s Khan is one of my all-time favorite Sci-Fi villains—certainly in the top five.  A large part of the reason that Star Trek II is the best of the Star Trek movies is Khan’s character.  He is just a cut above the rest (and with a big, muscled rubber chest piece, how could he not be?).  The other part is definitely big space ships beating the crap out of each other.  I can’t help it. In the end, I can appreciate and enjoy whichever Khan happens to be on the screen in front of me, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Star Trek.

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