Thursday, November 24, 2016

The Dojo Review Of Marvel's Doctor Strange!


I finally got around to seeing Doctor Strange the other day. Taking some advice, I went to see the 3-D version of this movie and I'm glad I did, as this was perhaps the first movie I've seen which truly was made for the format and not simply a regular movie with a few novel sequences. The visual splendor here is immense and the other dimensions lived up to my expectations (for the most part) as wildly overdeveloped as those might have become over the years.


The tale of a self-absorbed and highly talented surgeon is all here. On display in particular was the charm of Stephen Strange right alongside the painful cruelty he could inflict. His rejection of his lover Christine when he is in the pit of his own self-pity made me wince. To my mind Cumberbatch did a masterful job and I for one completely forgot all about Sherlock. I liked pretty much all of this movie but there were some things I liked better than others and a tiny few things which did annoy me.


SPOILER ALERT IN PLACE.

The Good: The visual feast here is mighty indeed, though I will confess the running up and down and into constantly transforming buildings and such did become a little hazy in spots, but mostly it was just spectacular. Doctor Strange looked fantastic, I loved the film version of his costume and thought it worked all the way. The addition of the Eye of Agamotto and the Cloak of Levitation made the character visually complete and it all fell into place with a logic that worked, at least for the duration of the movie. The Cloak in particular was a real nifty source of humor in the movie, though I think they lingered on some of the scenes of its hi-jinks a bit too long.

The Bad: The villains were indeed quite bad, Mads Mikklesen is a favorite of mine and worthy. But there was a sameness to the sidekicks of the evil Kaecilius were merely drones and perhaps needed a bit more distinction, but of course I guess that was to some extent the point. As quirky as Tilda Swinton was as the "Ancient One" I had a bit of a hard time with this change up in the classic character. Liked Mordo, but kept waiting for him to turn bad. He does but you have to wait until the end of the credits of course.

The Ugly: Dormammu was a real letdown. I liked the glimpses early in the movie but when he comes into full reveal we get yet one more rather uninteresting giant face hidden in dark shadows. This failed rather completely in the second Fantastic Four (the Galactus cloud) movie and Green Lantern (the Parallax fog) several years ago and it was a real disappointment to see it repeated here. The encounter with Strange was nice and does evoke the classic Ditko confrontation, but the realization of the demon Dormammu required a more fully humanoid character.

SPOILER ALERT OVER.


Doctor Strange is an appropriate movie for Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday. It's a story about a man who is overcome with grand gifts intellect, talent and skill, but who is so inside his own experience and so removed from his fellow man that he cannot ever be content nor appreciative of what has been given to him. This is a story about a man who learns to give and to understand that in service one finds truly that what we can be is more than what we often are.


Highly recommended.

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4 comments:

  1. There's a high level of competence in these movies that I tend to take for granted; you really have to appreciate what Marvel has been able to pull off. But since this is a favorite character of mine, parts of it feel wrong to me. Tilda Swinton as a puckish, whiter, younger Ancient One bothers me, though she did a great job. She somehow reminded me of one of those heroically bald kids who are being treated for cancer you see occasionally (and who are indeed beautiful in their struggle).

    There was a syndicated series in the 90's that was a "Next Generation" sequel to the original Kung Fu TV show called "Kung Fu: The Legend Continues" in which David Carradine played the grandson of his role in the earlier show. It became increasingly Dr. Strange-ish in the later episodes as Caine progressed from Shaolin Priest to Shamballah Master, gaining some more exotic abilities beyond mere martial art skills. A favorite character is Lo Si, referred to as "The Ancient", who seems to have survived from the beginning of Kung Fu to the 20th century. He's a wonderful presence as a mentor and comic foil and though much is made of his (and Caine's) clash with modern culture, I never felt his being Oriental was condescended upon. He might've been a good model for the movie character, since I'm pretty sure he was inspired by the original comics.

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    1. I well remember Next Generation, though I didn't actually watch it that much. I must confess the cancer victim thing did occur to me alas.

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  2. I enjoyed the movie, but thought Cumberbatch's American accent was terrible. Tilda Swinton didn't really bring anything to the part that justified the change in gender, which I suspect was merely to avoid the somewhat (by now) cliched older Oriental male mentor that we've already seen in the Kung Fu TV series, and the Remo Williams and Karate Kid movies. Still, overall a worthy movie, and visually stunning.

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    1. I suspect you're dead on with the Tilda Swinton choice, it's what I thought. They just don't want to have that stereotype and the story was woefully lacking in women, as does the original story which is even more a robust male event. Overall a fail.

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