Doctor Strange

 

Doctor Strange is a brilliant example of the danger of expectations.

I expected cool SFX and Mads Mikkelsen. I got that, and bonus Benedict Wong, so I was happy. L expected a film that actually worked on its own merits and was left disappointed. It is quite a flat film, that spends most of its time setting up its own sequel and whatever the Marvel Cinematic Universe equivalent of the Infinity Wars is going to be.

It’s also telling that the memorable scenes are the ones with very little in the way of obvious SFX, where they give the actors are given something to do.

I want 16 films of Rachel McAdams’s Nurse Palmer going ‘oh FFS’ at superheroics. But then again I am entirely happy with the idea of 16 films with Rachel McAdams in. Dear Hollywood, please cast her in more things.

Spoilers Underneath

For all that I’m supposed to think Doctor Strange is a bit much, he’s not actually that much worse than several doctors I know.

I know that Marvel have said that the flyer with a broken spine is not Rhodey, but 1) I think they’re lying and 2) if it’s Sam Wilson, I riot.

I can’t help but feel more sorry for Doctor Strange in the scene where he shouts at Christine than the film wants me to, not least because he was a lot more polite than I would have been. I don’t know if that’s because I know how much time and effort you have to become a neurosurgeon, never mind one at the top of his field. I did like the irony of other surgeons saying to him re: his condition.

One interesting thing is how much Kaecilius thinks that what he’s doing is the right thing (as does Mordo, and the Ancient One).

I can see why people make the Tony Stark / Stephen Strange parallels, except it misses the important thing about them. Tony is driven by not wanting to let his father down, while Stephen Strange is driven by his belief in his own greatness. Strange doesn’t have the same self-destructive tendencies as Tony. Tony would happily get himself killed several times over to save the Earth or Universe, but I doubt he’d have come up with a plan that got himself out of it alive too.

They’ve also got very different attitudes to killing people. I like how seriously Doctor Strange takes the whole try not to kill thing. The fight scenes did lead to me going hallo there Scott Adkins. He has joined that select group of people that I recognise from their shoulders. Maybe recognise isn’t the right word, because I couldn’t put a name to the shoulders, but I did go ‘I know those shoulders from somewhere else’.

Like lots of superhero films, both Marvel and not, the end boss is a bit of an anti-climax. Although I am deeply amused by the method used to defeat him, it all seemed so easy, and the cost doesn’t become apparent until the end stinger.

Saying Chiwetel Ejiofor is good is telling you stuff you already know, but he was oh so good when the film finally gave him something to do. It meant that for all that this film was flat, I am looking forward to the sequel just for Mordo vs Strange. But that’s exactly what I mean when I say the film spent a lot of time setting up its sequel rather than being its own film.

End Spoilers

Disney Marvel are missing out on oodles of money by not having a Doctor Strange replica cape for sale. As this isn’t like them at all, I do wonder if it’s to avoid lawsuits from parents of children who try to levitate. If they do ever bring out a replica cape, I will be all over that.

I am very aware of the film’s flaws, but I am the target audience so I enjoyed it. To paraphrase N on Facebook, “make a competent films with Marvel Studios at the beginning and I’ll enjoy it”.

 

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