“What is this, night of the living wackos?”
Justin’s rating: Big jewelry makes a big man
Justin’s review: These days, I’m so burned out on modern superhero movies that I can’t even be bothered to watch the last 10 or so Marvel Cinematic Universe entries I haven’t yet seen. But the weird thing is that while I haven’t felt any inclination to loading up Doctor Strange for a first-time viewing, you tell me that there’s a 1992 adaptation of the character that was then morphed into a copyright-free version starring Jeffrey Combs and I’m am so there for it. I feel like a kid given a Christmas present three weeks early.
Doctor Mordrid (Combs) is your average mysterious sorcerer who guards the pathways to Earth, has a portal to a jail dimension in his living room, and has a habit of stabbing himself with crystals. He’s been hanging out in New York City for over 150 years, sometimes wearing a smoking jacket, waiting to see if his evil alchemist counterpart might show up. And wouldn’t you know, he does!
Kabal (played by X-Files’ Brian Thompson) starts scooting around the planet on a happy scavenger hunt to collect all sorts of materials needed to open up a portal to hell. Mordrid notices the unusual news reports related to Kabal’s messy acquisitions and prepares himself for the coming conflict. Both of them have their own lackeys — Kabal has a cult lunatic while Mordrid teams up with a police consultant — and no shortage of silly gestures and flashy spells.
Combs and Thompson, both veterans of Star Trek and numerous cult movies, are generally excellent here as long-sparring foes. Combs really sells the genial magician, and Thompson chews up the scenery like any classic comic book villain should. And while I was expecting a whole lot worse in the special effects and storytelling department, Doctor Mordrid ended up being a whole lot more competent and decently made than I expected. The good Doctor’s apartment is a particular delight to behold with all sorts of detail-rich set dressing and a raven bodyguard.
Unfortunately, Doctor Mordrid just doesn’t have the budget to go the distance. It’s a shockingly short movie at 71 minutes, doesn’t spend enough time getting into the facets of the magic or the titular character, and only features a single magical duel. Admittedly, it’s pretty cool — dino skeletons are brought to life in glorious stop motion — it’s far too little, far too late. It kind of all felt like a solid TV pilot for a mid-1990s Fox series rather than a grand cinematic adventure, if you get my drift.
But you know how it is with superhero magician movies: Now you see them, now you–
- All magicians have some random bird just sitting on an open perch in their library
- When you show Christ the Redeemer statue, I really don’t think you need to specify with subtitles that this is Rio de Janeiro
- SUPER MULLET
- The philosopher’s stone? Harry Potter was looking for that
- That is one terrifying facial mask
- He’s got a Men in Black memory wiping amulet
- VHS tapes. Ask your parents about them, kids.
- That’s one giant wall world map — from Sharper Image?
- Holding your cape out to the side gets better reception
- Don’t we all have dimensional portals to D&D realms in our living room?
- Having both of your eyeballs melted sounds rough
- Catching an axe with one hand is metal
- The Crystals of Endor!
- Bad guys love freaking out old ladies
- This is the worst police precinct ever
- Blue glitter water
- Stop motion dinosaur skeletons — it’s about time, movie!
- Bullets don’t do a lot to dino skeletons
- SKELETON BATTLE
- That one lackey accounts for about 95% of this movie’s swearing