Doctor Strange

  • Directed by Scott Derrickson
  • October 13, 2016 (Hong Kong) / November 4, 2016 (US)

An injured doctor wanting to heal finds himself in a struggle against an ancient evil seeking to destroy this world.

In full disclosure I am not big on Marvel movies these days. Too often they are filled with guest characters from other films and in the end ultimately less of the narrative can be dedicated to the title character. This leaves the films feeling over cast with actors and lacking in substance. And the title character suffers by getting less time to develop.

Fortunately Doctor Strange does not suffer from any of that. There are no cameo appearances by Chris Pratt or Tom Holland or Chris Evans. The story of this movie is all about Doctor Strange and his journey from surgeon to master of the mystic arts.

While there are no guest stars or cameos, there are a handful of lines here and there throughout the story film that allude to the larger Marvel film universe. In my humble opinion that is the better way to connect Marvel films and television. A few words are used to acknowledge the larger fictional world and that allows the story to keep its eyes on the title character. Let them know everybody exists in the same world without having another actor there. At least with an origin film because you need to build up that character. The only cameo we get here is an appearance by Thor in the obligatory post credits scene.

Bingo Spinks Cinnabon or Benedict Cummerbund or however you pronounce his name makes a pretty good Doctor Strange. He creates a less than perfect character that rises to the occasion as well as improves as an individual by the end of the story.

One thing that set Marvel Comics apart from other comics in the early days was that the characters were imperfect. DC among others lacked imperfection. Marvel heroes were not saints and had serious flaws. Much like there here Doctor Strange is a real dick. He’s arrogant and a bit self-serving. He’s a skilled surgeon that wants to do a good job but in the end it’s all about him and he won’t take something that will not benefit his ego or his bank account.

The character of Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams) honestly is just a token girlfriend in this story. The character is there to give the things a little bit of heart. Truthfully Christine is not really a girlfriend so much as someone Strange cares about and who cares about him but because he’s been such a jerk and he’s so self-absorbed he doesn’t really make a connection. And that leaves the character there mostly to move the plot along rather than participate. That is fine because that is the part some characters must play in any story.

Tilda Swinton is a talented actress, but I have no idea why they cast her as the Ancient One. The Ancient One is an Asian gentleman who is old in order to better fit to fit the name as they did with such things at the time HE was created. Here the Ancient One is a middle-aged woman who shaved her head. Swinton did a fine job but it was just a weird change.

Mads Mikkelsen always brings the good. His build up as Kaecilius was good here but a bit one dimensional as if often the case with MCU bad guys. He was a serious threat but not much of a character. Kaecilius keeps talking about his pain and how he came to the Ancient One damaged and hurting and honestly that drowns out his characters motivation for joining forces with the evil entity Dormammu.

Chiwetel Ejiofor is cast as Karl Mordo. Mordo is traditionally an adversary for Strange. Here he is the tepid philosophical opposite of Strange. I know they are supposed to be opposites in thought (Mordo does storm off in the end) but Strange and Mordo come off more as two people who mildly disagree leaving Mordo’s decision to go away feeling a bit excessive.

There are some mind-bending visuals in this movie. They really go all in on making things look weird when it comes to magic and otherworldly stuff. It was necessary to demonstrate how different magic is from the general superpowers. The story does a good job of being creative with the look of the magic. It’s weird and visually interesting. It’s not just a straightforward spell and ‘pop’ but rather they go all in in the weirdness that some of the early comics had.

The script for Doctor Strange isn’t bad. There are witty moments, and the significant characters are developed well enough that you can care what happens. You understand their motivations. While the script isn’t bad it is a little thin on actual story.

The finale of the film-what would stereotypically be a big battle-is wrapped up rather creatively. It makes sense and it’s satisfying. It’s not punching and it’s not beating up of the bad guys and everybody destroying things. There is plenty of destruction but there’s magic involved so destruction can often be temporary in such cases. I give kudos to script writers Jon Spaihts, Scott Derrickson, and C. Robert Cargill for their imagination and not going with the easy resolution.

Doctor Strange is one of the better recent entries in the recent Marvel universe. It goes all in on the weirdness that magic can involve. While a little thin on story the script is not it bad and the performances are good. I definitely suggest you check this out!

Published by warrenwatchedamovie

Just a movie lover trying spread the love.

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