Thursday night, I couldn’t quite restrain myself from running out to the multiplex to see Dr. Strange. I went in with mixed feelings. Sure, the trailers looked beyond cool, and Tilda Swinton seemed amazing. But I wasn’t sure about Cumberbatch. He’s got a great voice, but I prefer not to have to look at him while he’s using it. Still, even he looked strange enough to be a good Strange.

Like Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man, I was trusting Fiege and the MCU not to let me down on this more offbeat offering. And they didn’t let me down.

Be warned: while there aren’t really big spoilers in “The Story At-A-Glance,” The Film” is full of them.



At its heart, Dr. Strange is a pretty typical comics origin story in terms of story arc. An arrogant neurosurgeon whose skill has made him a celebrity doctor finds his world shattered when a car accident crushes his hands, robbing him of the fine motor skill he needs to do his job. Desperate for something that can do the impossible and cure his affliction, he turns to expensive experimental treatments and appeals to colleagues for surgeries so risky they won’t agree to perform them.

When his physical therapist mentions a paralyzed man he treated who learned how to walk again despite massive back trauma, Strange seeks him out to discover how he did the impossible and found a cure. The man tells him that he came to him once, looking for a surgery to heal him, but Strange refused because what he was asking for was impossible. However, he tells Strange to travel to Kathmandu and look for Kamar-Taj. There will be people there who can explain and maybe help him.

Thus Strange finds himself on the path to learning to become a sorcerer, guided by The Ancient One and her lieutenant Mondo. Assisted by his eidetic memory, Strange learns the ways of magic and how to shape them to his will, despite his crippled hands. He has achieved a fair level of mastery before he is forced to confront one of The Ancient One’s former acolytes who has stolen pages from one of her books of magic, pages that open himself, his followers, and our world to the corrupting power of the Dark Dimension and its ruler Dormammu.





Dr. Strange is a bit of an odd duck in terms of Marvel movies for me in that I’m not sure how much I enjoyed it. Now, I didn’t dislike it. In fact, I liked it quite a lot, despite it giving me reason not to. Even though, on some level, I probably enjoyed Thor (not the best Marvel outing by far) more for its popcorn-crunching fun, Dr. Strange is a far better film. Even though it is, in many ways, much less fun.

There is a lot of room to compare Dr. Strange to Ironman in terms of story arc. A powerful, arrogant prick with an ego the size of a small planet is pulled out of his comfortable life by forces that threaten him, his sense of self and superiority, and the world itself. However, Stephen Strange has twice the ego of Tony Stark but half the charm and humor. He’s abrupt, awkward, cold, and (at times) mean in ways Stark never is.

Strange is a difficult character to like, even in those moments when he is most likeable. However, he also proves there are other character qualities that are more important than likeability.

Dr. Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams), Strange’s sometime friend and love interest, is necessary to the film plot-wise, a human connection that Strange would be utterly lacking in were it not for her presence. She’s there to save his life and chart his emotional progress over the course of the film, but there’s little spark or chemistry between them (unlike, say, Tony and Pepper). In a film with only two female characters who don’t play bit parts, it’s disappointing that one is more prop than person.

However, Tilda Swinton shines in her portrayal of The Ancient One. Yes, I know that role was an Asian man in the comics and that gallons of cyber-ink have been used up discussing casting a White woman in the role. However, putting that aside for a moment, Swinton’s performance was iconic and everything from her delivery to her physicality was a delight to watch. How good was she? She was good in the way where you can’t see another actor in that role, that’s how fully she embodied it.

I want The Ancient One as my personal Yoda.

Speaking of Swinton levels of good in this film, I can’t get much further without acknowledging that Benedict Cumberbatch is that good too. Those of you who’ve been around for a bit know I’ve never been a member of Camp Cumberbitch. However, while I have some reservations at how well he shows vulnerability and pain and fear in the role, he does Strange’s cool, remote, arrogance flawlessly.

Yes, Mads Mikkelsen did a good turn as Kaecilius (the Ancient One’s rogue pupil). Extra kudos for him for being able to say something as silly sounding as Dormammu and not have it sound ridiculous. And Chiwetel Ejiofor was a fine companion-in-arms, though I found his arc at the end of the movie coming a bit abruptly.

Of the secondary characters, Wong has all my love. The scene in the library when Strange opens portals to “borrow” books, and the moment at the end after the final battle were wonderful. At that last, the audience laughed too. I was not prepared for the fact that Strange’s Cloak of Levitation would, itself, be a character, but it is. It’s a delightful one at that.

If I have a quibble with the story arc, it’s that the tale peters out a bit at the end. After the major combat sequences earlier in the film, the final battle scene feels like a letdown. It pulls its punch in a way that gives narrative resolution without emotional satisfaction. At least for me. Should you be looking for narrative originality, this isn’t where you find it. It’s about as straightforward an origin story as you’ll find. As I tend to enjoy origin stories, I was good with this.

What I won’t quibble with is two plot twists that I did not see coming. The twist about the ties between The Ancient One and Dormammu that is revealed near the end ultimately left me with more questions than answers. How did she retain her goodness? Despite having the same rune as Mads on her forehead, why didn’t she have the creepy eyes? I was hoping we’d find out more about that.

The second twist, that the power inside the Eye medallion came from an Infinity Stone, that made me go, “OMG!” in the best of all possible ways. Even though it did make me feel a bit sheepish for not guessing it was one.

Visually, the film is nothing short of breathtakingly gorgeous. The sets, the costumes, the psychedelic chaos of dimensional travel, the folding of reality, the glittering facets of the Mirror Dimension, all were lovely. My only quibbles was with Dormammu who, despite the menacing voice, seemed almost—dare I say?--cute. Marvel stumbles sometimes when it comes to the bad guys, and this might have been a bit of a stumble.



Dr. Strange brings magic to the Marvel universe. If you’re hesitant to splurge on IMAX 3D tickets, rest assured this film is worth the price of admission. Indeed, the visuals are so stunning, it would be crime to see them in a lesser format first.

Of course, make certain to stick around through the end of the credits, as there are two scenes (one in the credits, one after them) you don’t want to miss.

Trailers (that I remember): Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, The Great Wall, Power Rangers, Old Man Logan, Rogue One, and Guardians of the Galaxy 2.

From: [identity profile] poniesandphotos.livejournal.com


I don't normally spring for 3d movies. But tonight there was only one showing at a time that would work and it was a 3d one. I am not sad about those extra few dollars as it was lovely. As someone who has long been a fan of Cumberbatch I enjoyed the movie greatly, despite it's flaws. And Chiwetel Ejiofor will forever have all my love.
siduri1959: (Default)

From: [personal profile] siduri1959


I hated Strange for the first half hour so I think BC succeeded in the role, LOL. Felt much more kindly toward him after he got it together. The more I think about this movie, the better I liked it. I like that Mordo will be an adversary without being a villain. Lots of things to like about this film.

From: [identity profile] gothrockrulz.livejournal.com


Glad you enjoyed Dr. Strange! Eventually, I shall see it. Eventually. And then pop back here to read your thoughts under the LJ tag. :)

From: [identity profile] sunshine304.livejournal.com


I enjoyed the movie a lot. The comparison to Tony Stark practically jumps into your lap *g*, but I've heard that both characters started out pretty much like this in the comics, coming from the same basic character design. I didn't mind so much, but it made it a bit difficult (esp. in the beginning) to feel sympathy for Strange since it's really his own fault that he ends up severely injured.

The visuals are a real trip, even 3D is not wasted money here, and I enjoyed the bits of humour throughout the movie (my audience laughed quite a bit in this). My friend immediately though of an Infinity Stone when we see the medallion in action for the first time. The Mordo twist wasn't that surprising to me since I've heard a bit about his development in the comics, but it was quite sudden, definitely. (I'd actually thought they'd give us a teaser for Guardians...)

The acting was great all around, and I also loved Wong! Definitely a good addition to the MCU and keeping up the good quality.

From: [identity profile] dunderklumpen.livejournal.com


I was surprised but I really liked the Doctor Strange movie. It was entertaining and, you're right, visually beautiful. Plus IMO Cumberbatch fit the role, especially the looks. As ridiculous as the costume is.. he rocks it. *gg*

From: [identity profile] empy.livejournal.com


What I knew about Doctor Strange going in would have fit into a thimble. (That said, I did go "Oh hey, that's the Eye of Agamotto back there, wtf is it doing in Odin's vault?" when I first saw Thor... but that was the only Strange-related thing I knew. The name of the damn thing, not what it did.) I still enjoyed the film. :)

I did have a few gripes: poor Christine being relegated to Easily Startled Tragic Ex and Dormammu honestly feeling a bit pants after the reveal. But those are fairly minor. The Cloak... eh, it felt like it toed the line into too slapsticky when it attacked the henchman (he was nearly caped to death, even), but overall I liked it. My slapstick limit is very very low, though.

I saw the film with my mother and we were also wondering about how the Ancient One kept from slipping. Her theory was that the Ancient One only drew as much as she needed from the Dark Dimension, which sort of works for me. I'm totally prepared to be proven wrong, though.

About the final reveal regarding the Eye? I was similarly sheepish, if it helps any. I went "Oh duh, I should have *known*!".

Finally: was it just me or was that trap Kaecilius ended up in rather titillating? *g* ...it's probably just me, isn't it?
.