Nov 08 2016

Preliminary review of Dr. Strange

Published by at 12:01 am under Comic Book Movies

  • I feel like a marketing executive put a gun to the screenwriter’s head and said “I don’t CARE what the movie is about, put New York City, London, and Hong Kong in it. Just do that thing where the villain is trying to collect plot coupons around the world in places that happen to be major marketing centers. What about like magic sanctums or something? Have we tried that yet?” The plot coupon setup would have been less obvious if the cities had actually been used more cleverly. The scenes in Hong Kong, London, and probably NYC could have happened virtually anywhere.
  • Notably, Dr. Strange bends over backwards to insult the love interest, and dares her to leave, and the next time they see each other she’s basically forgotten about the whole thing. From a plot development perspective, probably not ideal. I wouldn’t suggest having a character work that hard to do something distinctive/extraordinary unless you’re willing to deal with the consequences. In this case, I think it makes the love interest seem very hard to like.
  • The movie was funny in more than a few places, but off the top of my head, I wouldn’t recommend the writing on most other levels. For example, Dr. Strange doesn’t really earn most of what he has (with the exception of the final scene) – e.g. his cape wins a battle for him, his cape chooses him for no reason, he happens to get a super-lucky assist from somebody in New York that happens to have been to the Nepalese healer he’s looking for (AND has a personal reason not to help Strange but does so anyway), he just happens to have been born with incredible magical talent, his sort-of-girlfriend forgives him far too easily to feel like a human, he gets treated as exceptional long before he’s actually done anything exceptional, etc. It gets better gradually – e.g. the scene where he steals magic tomes using telekinesis works not because his telekinesis is better than anybody else’s, but because he’s willing to try using it in a way that most other characters wouldn’t. Also, in the final scene, he cleverly uses limited capabilities to force a draw with a more powerful adversary.
  • “The Cloak of Levitation” is a notably bad name for anything. He’s a sorcerer. I don’t think he needs an explanation for why he wears a cape.
  • Dr. Strange got a 90% on Rotten Tomatoes. Over the first half of the movie, I would have guessed 50-60%. By the end, maybe 60-70%. I don’t think it passes the smell test on action quality, and the character development is noticeably weaker than in most other MCU movies.
  • Wow, Nepal is a lot more racially diverse than I was expecting. Dr. Strange gets randomly mugged by a white guy, a black guy, and an east Asian that looked/sounded like a casting director found them at a business luncheon and hoped nobody would notice if they were wearing street clothes. It’s like the United Nations of Nepalese street crime. (And, weirdly, even less Nepalese than the rest of Dr. Strange’s Nepal).
  • The fight scenes were disappointing. The trailer set this up as some mindbending, Inception-level mojo. Instead we got half-assed CGI melee for the most part. The action in even a mediocre kung fu movie is miles ahead of this.
  • The ending is genuinely clever, and probably the only element of this movie that I’ll remember a year from now. Negotiated settlements between hero and villain are exceptionally rare in superhero movies (see also Watchmen). Also, the bargaining scene allowed the screenwriter to avoid some of the more serious problems floating around world-level threats — they are hard to talk to and rarely have much interesting to say (see also Suicide Squad, Green Lantern, the last two Fantastic Four movies, etc). We didn’t get to avoid the purple-swirling-dust stuff, though (see, well, pretty much every superhero movie where the planet is threatened).

30 responses so far

30 Responses to “Preliminary review of Dr. Strange”

  1. (o_n')on 08 Nov 2016 at 1:25 am

    The UN of Nepalese street gang. Why can’t be a ordinary local gang? Or it is racistic too? If Hollywood has problem being called racistic, maybe they should priority differency in somewhere more visible than a street gang. I think producers has tendency to cast the same few actors and actress they have work with before, they know exactly that they get, rather to try on somebody they haven’t work with.
    I don’think watch it, one of my main issues about Dr. Strange is he always threated as highly regarded or admired, even when he threat others like shit.

  2. Andrewon 08 Nov 2016 at 1:51 am

    Well, at least I can gain comfort there’re reviewers who aren’t totally biased Disney ass-kissers

  3. B. McKenzieon 08 Nov 2016 at 7:00 am

    “The UN of Nepalese street gang. Why can’t be a ordinary local gang? Or it is racistic too?” Well, I would guess the street gang is less racist than the actual UN. They appear to target Dr. Strange for a robbery because he has a really nice watch, which would be a bona fide qualification for an equal opportunity mugging.

    Also, from a marketing perspective, there had already been criticism on racial grounds and it probably would have looked really bad if the only Nepalese people that actually got lines in the movie were street criminals. They could have avoided that by two ways (either giving lines to Nepalese non-criminals, or by bending over backwards to make the local criminals non-Nepalese).

    “Well, at least I can gain comfort there’re reviewers who aren’t totally biased Disney ass-kissers.” Whether I enjoyed a particular movie or not, I can virtually guarantee it’ll devolve into a deranged rant by word 1,000.

  4. Ernon 08 Nov 2016 at 8:58 am

    That CGI was in no way half assed. Most of it was amazing and sometimes trippy. It actually takes a lot to make this stuff.

  5. (o_n')on 08 Nov 2016 at 9:46 am

    They could do soften the criminals a bit(they have family to support or something). Or they missed big time a opportunity for include something disneyfied morality with a Nepalese family taking care of him afterwards. Honestly I don’t expect a tourist crime group in Nepal… Maybe bending backwarss is able ride of storm in USA, but it would looked as stupid ignorrance in Europe, if not as Americans are really bad at geography.

  6. ~GVB~on 08 Nov 2016 at 11:25 am

    As this the the first time responding to a post on your page I want to say how much I enjoy it and it has helped me in my writing.

    I am a comic nerd and a story teller that is working on his writing. So put that in whatever context you like. I disagree with a lot of the points of your review. I personally enjoyed the movie. You saw it as you saw it and not knowing you or your knowledge of the source material I can only give you my opinion.

    I agree with you that the locations could have been done much better. For example putting Bleeker street in Brooklyn was painful. In my opinion they should have just kept the battles inside the sanctums. The source history is there, the sanctums aren’t a marketing thing.

    Stephen Strange is an egotistical ass that just lost everything he thought made him superior. he was written that way. I never got the impression that Dr Palmer was a love interest. she was at best someone who tried to be there for a colleague going through hard times. the next time she sees him she is in doctor mode and he apologizes for how he treated her. I think it was the example of how he had changed. and fit the plot just fine.

    The plot (here’s where the marketing takes it bite) did exactly what it was supposed to, introduce a new character to a larger universe. It’s an origin story. he is a chosen one, that’s why his name is the title of the movie. He is an egomaniac that found a new way to be the best. It’s not about his power as a sorcerer, it’s about his growth as a person.
    And that is still a work in progress. (Sequels)

    Nepal, this is a legal issue. There are quite a few countries where foreign film companies are not allowed to portray the populace negatively. Nepal is one of them. Hence the UN gang.

    The he CGI was outstanding. If you would allow, it portrayed the magic realms of Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko’s art better than expected. (geek flag)

    Tilda Swinton is a go to for whatever other worldly character you want to cast. she did pretty good but I would have preferred an Asian actor ( personal preference)
    I don’t see the movie as race bias, Mordo’s is portrayed by a black actor. The Ancient One is a title, so they could put anyone in that role. I t is actually less race biased than the comic.
    It opens up options in the larger MCU story. It’s very enjoyable. Its in my MCU top 5

  7. Byakuya91on 08 Nov 2016 at 12:20 pm

    While I’ll admit as a film, it is noticeably weaker than most MCU solo films, I do really like this film. To be fair, I’m a diehard Stephen Strange fan.

    My issues with the movie were the pacing. I felt it moved a bit too fast, particularly with Strange getting/ learning his powers. Yes, it is established he is a fast learner, but I would have preferred to see him struggle a bit more. Kind of like the 2007 animated movie.

    So I’ll agree with you there.

    The action, however, I STRONGLY disagree with you. I thought this was some of the best action in the MCU. The visual effects were amazing. My gripe is mainly how magic is presented as it seemed all weaponized. Cool, but I wanted a bit more creativity with using energy bolts and a mix of martial arts. Also, I wanted to see Strange’s alliteration.

    By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth, it’s such an important aspect. Goofy, but important.

    I also felt like there needed to be more scenes with the Ancient One and Mordo with Strange to further flesh out their relationships. Their chemistry was excellent, but I just wanted more.

    As for what worked, Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange was great. My nitpick is I wished I saw a bit more arrogance from him. I get that Derrickson wanted to separate him from Stark, but underplaying it.

    But the scene(SPOILER ALERT), where he operates on the guy with the bullet in his brain, was good, BUT would have been more effective had we saw some of Strange’s arrogance, I.E how much will it cost or what can he do for me(END SPOILER).

    But the loft scene and the climax sold me that he is Dr. Strange. Every other cast member was great. Swinton was awesome as the Ancient One, though I would have liked an Asian actor.

    Ejiofor as Mordo is a big change from the comics, but a GOOD one. He’s looking like he’ll be one of the better enemies of the MCU. In short, Dr. Strange is a film that I feel like was very good, but needed some work.

    Rachel McAdams, I’ll agree she was underutilized, but I’d hardly call her unlikable, cough Jane Foster.

    The humor while mostly good was at times a miss and I do think an additional fifteen to twenty minutes were needed to flesh out the movie. But needless to say, this is easily in my top five favorite MCU films.

    Though, I do acknowledge that Iron Man one is a much better film.

    Score: 8/10

  8. B. McKenzieon 08 Nov 2016 at 5:18 pm

    “Maybe bending backwarss is able ride of storm in USA, but it would looked as stupid ignorrance in Europe, if not as Americans are really bad at geography.” What?

  9. B. McKenzieon 08 Nov 2016 at 5:24 pm

    “That CGI was in no way half assed.” I thought the mirror universe was actually quite good (though I would have appreciated if they had been more daring about applying the physics-free concept in combat).

    The CGI weapons and fight choreography… I was hoping for more.

  10. B. McKenzieon 08 Nov 2016 at 5:34 pm

    “I’d hardly call her unlikable, cough Jane Foster.” I’m not a huge fan of Foster either, but I think it’s more a writing/character development issue than an acting one. She’s sort of a half-hearted scientist character in a Marvel universe crawling with vastly more interesting and/or humorous ones (e.g. Tony Stark, Scott Lang, Rocket, and arguably First Class’ Beast). I’m not sure what else Natalie Portman could have done there besides rewrite most of her lines.

  11. B. McKenzieon 08 Nov 2016 at 5:44 pm

    “The source history is there, the sanctums aren’t a marketing thing.” Well, it might have been some other studio consideration (e.g. tax incentives), but it didn’t look like mainly a creative one. E.g. Hong Kong’s contribution to the plot was so small that the main creative difference between using Hong Kong and a wildly different choice like Green Bay was that the food cart that got wrecked sold noodles rather than hot dogs or something. Contrast to a story where the setting is critical to the plot (e.g. moving the Incredibles to a city where most people and/or officials back superheroes over legal trolls would be a major rewrite, or moving a Batman story from super-dysfunctional and super-grim Gotham to, say, Metropolis or Salt Lake City).

  12. B. McKenzieon 08 Nov 2016 at 6:04 pm

    “Honestly I don’t expect a tourist crime group in Nepal.” Neither did the Nepalese. That’s how I got away.

  13. Xbimpyxon 10 Nov 2016 at 2:48 pm

    Wtf. Strange is not the best sorcerer, stop it. He didnt even physically defeat anyone with hand to hand or mystical arts combat because he never mastered either. Those around him had to help plus a sentient cape happened to like his hard headed attitude. If it wasn’t for his wits and luck he would have been dead. This is not a compment badass. Hell hes only Master because the other one died.

    Btw yea there was a convenience involving the former KT resident. He directly led to two other scenes plus the scene itself offered different dialogue (street) and character interactions that the rest of the film and in general films haven’t touched so often.

  14. Xbimpyxon 10 Nov 2016 at 2:50 pm

    Fiction is not like reality. Connivances are required for the character to end at a certain path. If the connivance totally controls that path then it’s bad. All fiction has them and if I went around not picking each one I wouldn’t be finished till I’m dead.

  15. B. McKenzieon 10 Nov 2016 at 5:25 pm

    “Wtf. Strange is not the best sorcerer, stop it. He didnt even physically defeat anyone with hand to hand or mystical arts combat because he never mastered either.”

    At an organization with at least 20 trainees, he gets promoted to master and ultimately Sorcerer Supreme in probably his first year (I think his ex-girlfriend says that he’s been gone for “months”). Are these other people that have been training longer really that bad at magic? Or has he been born with greater talent? (I would assume the latter; one of the masters says that he shouldn’t have been able to figure out the time travel spell unless he were extremely gifted).



    I feel like he did less to prove himself over the course of his first movie than, say, Captain America or Iron Man did.

  16. Byakuya91on 10 Nov 2016 at 7:19 pm

    “I’m not a huge fan of Foster either, but I think it’s more a writing/character development issue than an acting one. She’s sort of a half-hearted scientist character in a Marvel universe crawling with vastly more interesting ones. I’m not sure what else Natalie Portman could have done there besides rewrite most of her lines.”

    I can see where you are coming from. Honestly, I rewatched the Thor movies and my issue is the human characters. Thor’s movies have some of the weakest side characters in Natalie, Portman, Kat Dennings and Skargard. But to be fair, Skarsgard is probably the BEST written of the group.

    My issue is that Foster, and the human characters, are lackluster, especially compared to the Warriors three. Anytime those guys were on screen, I wanted to see more! They seemed fun, and had just enough characterization.

    I get that Marvel wanted to ground Thor, but like Strange, Thor to me should explore more of the mystical/mythological elements. That’s why I’m hoping that Ragnarok can showcase more of this element. Because, thankfully Jane Foster is NOT in the movie.

    It’s also why(SPOILER ALERT) I loved the mid-credit scene with Thor and Strange. To me, Strange was at his best as he was doing his job and his interaction with Hemsworth(always great in the role) was stellar (SPOILER END).

  17. B. McKenzieon 11 Nov 2016 at 8:21 pm

    “My issue is that Foster, and the human characters, are lackluster, especially compared to the Warriors three. Anytime those guys were on screen, I wanted to see more! They seemed fun, and had just enough characterization.” Agreed. I think they open up more conversational pathways than another 3-4 brilliant scientists (and are less redundant with other warrior sidekicks* than Thor’s scientists are with other scientists in-universe).

    *E.g. I think it’d be relatively easy to come up with conversational scenarios where they play out very differently to Captain America’s squadmates or SHIELD agents or maybe Dr. Strange’s fellow masters.

    “like Strange, Thor to me should explore more of the mystical/mythological elements.” I generally prefer characters getting opportunities to do things distinctive to them. Thor’s romance was probably the least distinctive thing about him. Probably Dr. Strange as well — the most distinctive aspect of his romance was how jackassedly he mishandled it, and even then she pretty much pretended that never happened. (My only votes for exceptionally strong romances in superhero movies would probably be Incredibles and Deadpool, and maybe also the quickly aborted relationship between Mystique and Beast in First Class. Outside of movies, Gotham’s relationship between Gordon/Lee is actually a lot more interesting than it has any right to be, and she’s got enough characterization that I’d want her on screen even if she weren’t a love interest).

    Some related claims:
    1) Out of all the side characters in superhero movies, the love interest usually gets the least room to be an interesting character. She’s usually there to provide romantic attainment and/or minor logistical support (e.g. being the designated scientist or doctor) for another character. My impression is that other types of side characters generally get more focus on personality, and get a lot more opportunities to do/say things most other characters in their role wouldn’t (e.g. compare comic relief characters like Luis in Ant-Man and Weasel/Dopinder in Deadpool and Edna Mode in Incredibles and Hogan in Iron-Man and maybe Beast in First Class. They have so much less in common than, say, the movie versions of Gwen Stacey/Jane Foster/Pepper Potts/Christine Palmer).

    2) I believe the acting quality and/or actor enthusiasm is usually considerably weaker for the love interest than at any other recurring role in superhero movies. (My guess is that if you’re overemphasizing attractiveness as a casting requirement, particularly if you have tight age requirements, most of the people walking through that door probably aren’t phenomenal actors. Even if they were, the script probably isn’t giving them an incredibly promising role to begin with).

    3) The character’s other roles get subordinated to (and probably degraded by) being a love interest. Whereas many of the comic relief characters are effective enough in other capacities that you might want to keep them around even if they weren’t comic relief (e.g. Luis as a criminal collaborator, Edna Mode and Weasel as suppliers, etc), love interests are usually forgettable examples of any secondary roles they’re a part of (e.g. contrast Foster/Potts/Palmer vs. Beast as scientists… Beast’s reckless and frequently slapdash approach to science makes his contributions to the team fairly memorable, and incidentally is one of the driving comedic engines behind First Class, whereas if Foster/Potts/Palmer weren’t the love interest, I’m not sure they’re interesting enough as scientists to actually earn their spot there). I don’t think it’s a coincidence that so many of the most forgettable scientists are also love interests.

  18. B. McKenzieon 11 Nov 2016 at 9:25 pm

    “Connivances are required for the character to end at a certain path. If the connivance totally controls that path then it’s bad. All fiction has them and if I went around not picking each one I wouldn’t be finished till I’m dead.” Ehh, okay, but if a character needs assistance from an uncooperative character, maybe he could earn it? I feel like that’s a fairly attainable standard. I think it’d take about an hour to rewrite the scene to give Strange a more active role in convincing the miracle patient to help him find the Nepalese healer. (If that’s taken care of, I think it’d be easy to look past how easy it was for him to find someone in New York that had been to this miracle doctor in Nepal*).

    *It felt plausible given his medical background, and also the physical trainer rubbing it in his face was very well executed (compare to a much blander introduction like, “Hey, there’s a patient I’d like you to meet!”)

  19. Dr. Potatoon 20 Nov 2016 at 12:08 am

    In its defense, “The Cloak of Levitation” is the name taken right from the comic. It’s something uniquely related to Doctor Strange’s character as Sorcerer Supreme. So it’s not like the movie creator has a choice about it.

  20. (o_n')on 20 Nov 2016 at 3:07 am

    I do think there is option to not mention the name. Usually clothing does not have name(even companies does give specific style names, it is easier to work with, than say batch numbers). I mean I don’t say: I have to get my SS Evangelina fringed rashel lace top… It is so much easier to say: I need to get my shirt on, when I be ready.
    The cloak of levitation, could be more smoothly being a levitation cloak or just a cloak.

  21. Dr. Potatoon 20 Nov 2016 at 4:08 am

    I mean, “The Cloak of Levitation” is part of Doctor Strange’s unique identity, along with The Eye of Agamoto. To not mention their names at all in a movie about him, is like never mentioning Captain America’s shield is made of vibranium: it may not really important to the story, but the fans will feel it missing.

    To be fair, though, they only mention the cloak’s name once in a movie. Kind of like easter eggs. The name is really not that important to the story, just for a fanservice.

  22. (o_n')on 20 Nov 2016 at 8:59 am

    I think there is a difference. Let’s take Harry Potter, he is a wizard, what does define a wizard? A wand. If we take the wand away him, he is no longer a wizard. But he is still Harry Potter, the boy-who-lived etc. However people would get confused over that white little dog, who follows Tintin everywere in Secret of the Unicorn, if we didn’t get the name Snowy. But Snowy is character, which main job is comic relief and being reflection of Tintin’s feelings, not a thing. Secondly the Tintin movie is so filled with Easter Eggs, you would miss a lot without knowing the comics a little. I am more fan of show don’t tell, a Easter egg would be better. Dr. Strange isn’t well established to movie goers as Captain America, so it would be Harder to swallow. And I think vibranium is pun on it’s own.

  23. B. McKenzieon 20 Nov 2016 at 9:57 am

    “I mean, “The Cloak of Levitation” is part of Doctor Strange’s unique identity, along with The Eye of Agamoto. To not mention their names at all in a movie about him, is like never mentioning Captain America’s shield is made of vibranium: it may not really important to the story, but the fans will feel it missing.”

    Marvel’s cinematic adaptations have made many changes to the source material (e.g. renaming Cosmic Cubes as “Tesseracts”, avoiding the words “Hawkeye,” “Hulk,” “mutant”, “Quicksilver” and “Scarlet Witch” in-story, totally overhauling Guardians of the Galaxy, reworking Thor’s style of speech and probably Dr. Strange’s, cutting virtually all Hulk lines, etc). I think renaming the Cloak of Levitation (or not naming it) would be a relatively small one.

  24. (o_n')on 20 Nov 2016 at 12:08 pm

    I don’t think everything in comics, would work for movie. They are different media. I think comics can get away with a lot(like reverse gravitation, slap stick comedy, intextuality, amount of details in each frame). Intertextuality can be found in movies, but I bet you wouldn’t find a hidden Batman in corner, then the characters enter a bat cave in a Marvel movie. A frame in comic book would be serval frames in movies. So conversation would be pretty boring, because the scene is streched out, but you still get same ammount of information. So would names, the universal solvent would be pretty bad movie title(it is bad title for a comic, you missed the Jules Verne reference).

  25. Phoenixon 26 Nov 2016 at 8:17 pm

    Since you opened that can of worms, The Incredibles (Mr. Incredible, specifically, and the world of supers, generally) didn’t need authorities in favor of heroes over trolls so much as people of reason who followed laws. Attempting suicide is illegal in most jurisdictions, so Mr Sansuite would not only have been blocked from filing a lawsuit, but ended up in custody under psychiatric observation. Additionally, Good Samaritan laws would have protected Mr. Incredible from litigation without him lifting a finger in his defense.

    None of this explains why the villains chose to go underground when the heroes did, so I guess we have to assume that the government was capable of handling them without super-assistance. Maybe the super activities were just encouraged to promote good feelings. We may never know.

  26. B. McKenzieon 27 Nov 2016 at 2:06 pm

    “Attempting suicide is illegal in most jurisdictions, so Mr Sansuite would not only have been blocked from filing a lawsuit, but ended up in custody under psychiatric observation.” Caveat: I’m not a lawyer, obviously. Police responses to crimes in progress sometimes lead to lawsuits from people who think their rights have been violated (even if they were engaged in criminal activity at the time). E.g. U.K. burglars suing a homeowner for damages after getting shot. I would guess this is especially prevalent outside of the U.S. (which has relatively generous self-defense laws). My thinking is that even if you WERE highly confident that you’d eventually win the case as the superhero, getting sued would be a major distraction, expensive, highly time-consuming, and probably highly stressful (both from the lawsuit and also from the lingering doubts about whether the people you’re saving are actually asses).

    I’m not a lawyer, but I think if there isn’t a Good Samaritan law in place, the troll that attempted suicide might plausibly be able to get a lawsuit into court, and from there the insurer (and/or the employer if it’s a work incident) might rush to settle quietly even though the case may have been winnable.

  27. (o_n')on 28 Nov 2016 at 9:02 am

    I would add if even a country has strict defination of self defense, they would stand pretty bad in a lawsuit if you was doing something illegal. However they might have a better chance to succes than they would in USA, if the incident involves a weapon or was more than passification.

    – I always thought he had succes with law suit, because it was defined as detetion and he had a good lawyer(at retorics, not ignoring the fact his client was trying to commit sucide and it is not legal), while superheroes tends not to have one…

  28. B. McKenzieon 28 Nov 2016 at 5:37 pm

    “I would add if even a country has strict defination of self defense, they would stand pretty bad in a lawsuit if you was doing something illegal.” Ah, in criminal law, I think there are some countries that approach self-defense very differently than, say, the U.S. does. E.g. in Japan, if you had the ability to run from an assailant but chose to stay and fight, in some cases that may be prosecutable. Self-defense is more of a mitigating factor than a right in criminal law there (I have no idea about lawsuits, though).

  29. (o_n')on 28 Nov 2016 at 10:19 pm

    Most European contries self defense lies up to japanese one. If it is safe to run away than to stay and fight. However there is room for self defense, especially if you can’t runaway. But still not you can beat a burglar green and blue, but you can hold him back to police arriving.

  30. AjofEarthon 04 May 2017 at 9:43 am

    Alright, so I know I’m late to the conversation, but I’ve just watched the movie. Twice.

    My favorite character was the Ancient One, who may be my favorite character in the entire MCU. I understand the real-world political/religious/studio-capitalism reasons behind the changing of this character from the original Tibetan version in the comics, which admittedly stinks, however for what was presented, the character was beyond solid. She was putting some legit spiritual wisdom to Strange (even though it was unfortunately appropriated into inter-dimensional sorcery, which pairs so well with the Avenger’s transhumanist agenda…), she was funny and visually captivating, I enjoyed her action and dialogue and felt her overall function as Mentor was memorable. And man, that last conversation Strange has with her just before she goes… I wanted to know more. I don’t know what it means for the film as a whole that my favorite character isn’t the main character, but there it is. Ancient One, FTW.

    I felt Stephen Strange was solidly portrayed, if perhaps his initial training was rushed. The film could have given us perhaps a minute or two more showing the rigidity and variety of that process. I think he did a good job tempering his compassionless arrogance into confidence through humility, and also enjoyed his quick thinking in the film’s climax. I also enjoyed his scenes with Dr. Palmer. It didn’t feel like a romance to me, especially after the film’s opening scenes, but more of working relationship built on a new sort of friendship. I think Strange did a good job acknowledging his errors and it was clear he was working to no longer be that former person, which I felt Dr. Palmer felt. Plus, astral forms and dimensional portals in the broom closet… I imagine issues of the past become small potatoes in the face of things like that and felt the development of their relationship, as presented in a super hero film, was decent as well as humorous. I think the portrayal of Strange turned just eeeeever so slightly hokey toward the end of the movie, in terms of dialogue and delivery of dialogue, but overall it didn’t get too bad.

    I thought the effects were pretty spectacular. I recognized the Inception-style influence, but felt the film worked to make it its own. I also enjoyed the visual effects of the sorcerers’ magic. The stylized geometries (see: Sacred Geometry) were fun to look at. Bringing it back to the Ancient One, I enjoyed her use of energy fans as weapons, which even opened and closed as she fought. Very cool. Ditto the crystal clouds of the Astral Dimension.

    The Cloak of Levitation, though… I don’t remember it having it’s own personality quite like that and found it frustrating how it handled most of Strange’s physical combat. Very deus ex… Between this and its emotive qualities (wiping Strange’s tears), it felt a little too much like the magic carpet from Aladdin. Meh.

    Also, the Eye of Agamotto was far departure from its original version. In the comics, when opened, the Eye grants Strange second sight, allowing him to see through illusions. It weakens dark magic, grants telepathic insight, creates shields of protection and enables group teleportation. In this movie, it serves as Strange’s personal time-turner, essentially a carrying case–the jewelry box–of the Time Gem. Again, meh.

    I genuinely enjoyed the side-characters/allies as well as the antagonist Kaecillius. Familiar set-up with a scorned disciple-turned-betrayer, but I like how it was handled. Although, here I have a question…

    Dormammu. I know Dr. Strange’s origin and backstory, etc., so I know Dormammu is his own individual entity–there is a Dormammu. But in this movie… Do we agree this was not Dormammu and in fact Thanos? Dormammu is typically depicted as hellish–a fiery, burning Demon Lord… yet here, he resembles Thanos so closely. And even if Marvel decided to simply re-invent Dormammu’s look for this film, just something brand new from the ground up, that they would choose a wide, squarish, ribbed faced with glowing purple eyes… I dunno. It seemed to me this was definitely Thanos in some form, who now knows where the Time Gem is, and this should either had been made a little more clear to the audience or to the characters (even one) in the film. I definitely feel like someone, somewhere, dropped a ball here. Thoughts?

    And that’s that. Overall I enjoyed the movie and would most likely watch it a third time.

    Happy Thursday, folks!

    -AoE

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