Despite being packed with mad visuals, this was surprisingly non-triggering. Perhaps because the focus was on a kaleidoscope of colors as opposed to strobe. Very interesting. Also, I made sure to eat meat before, specifically because I was concerned about the crazy visuals, as reported by others, so that might have also influenced me. Still, compared to so many other surprising films that tossed in epileptic visuals, Dr Strange was pretty easy on my neurons.
This is the first Marvel solo-origin story since Ant-Man, which isn’t all that long ago, but it feels more like a Phase One Thor or Iron Man. Understandable in many ways. Ant-Man, as a character, is similar enough to Iron Man, that you don’t need much push. Dr. Stephan Strange’s story breaks a lot of barriers, and plays in a lot of new sandboxes. So we go back to basics a bit with him. He’s also one of the older characters, first appearing in Strange Tales #110 in 1963.
His back story, however, is quite simple, so it is told very quickly. Arrogant surgeon is in a car crash that ruins his hands. Devastated, he exhausts all of his wealth trying to repair the damage so that he can get back to doing what he is a genius at, but every avenue of western medicine fails him. With his last dollar, he heads east, and ends up in Tibet (which the MCU changes to Nepal for understandable political reasons … China’s a big movie market), where he meets a man named the Ancient One. Skeptical at first, Strange eventually learns to channel the mystic arts. He could, using these powers, become a surgeon, but in his studies he learned much about the supernatural perils that threaten the world, and instead he becomes a champion for humankind against mystical evil that would destroy us.
Which is basically the film.
The comic was originally created by Steve Ditko in the 1960s, as previously stated. Also, it was … you know … other worldly. Magical. Demonic. Trippy. And the movie leans pretty heavily on that at times. The trailers were a little more Inception (one assumes for the comfort of general audiences), but the movie itself pays much homage to the original creator and creation.
I’m not the first to say so, but see this movie in 3D. I wasn’t able to at my local theatre, but I plan to head out to the one at the beach this weekend for a second viewing, where the English-language showing IS in 3D. At my theatre, only the Thai dub was 3D! Tragic!
Benedict Cumberbatch/Dr Strange: People are saying he plays this a little more Tony Stark than Stephen Strange, but if you go to comics like The Oath, Strange has certainly had a sense of humor in cannon. Even the early Strange Tales comics, he was humorous. Though it was a bit dryer. And not as pop culture-y. His American accent is pretty good.
Tilda Swinton/The Ancient One: She’s the actor/character that has people up in arms. Gender and racial flip. I get why Marvel did this, and I understand why people have problems with it. But when it comes to the actual performance… Tilda did a pretty damn good job, as always. She was otherworldly as hell.
Chiwetel Ejiofor/Baron Mordo: A different take on the character, which I won’t go into for issues of future spoilers since the character builds up to what he is in the comics. Needless to say, Chiwetel does the writing justice.
Benedict Wong/Wong: Another character switched a bit for modern audiences (he’s originally, and up until a few years ago often still a sort of stereotypical Asian man-servant), Benedict does a great job with this character. Like Chiwetel, he does the new writing of this character justice, and he even pulls on the heart of the original in a way that feels very natural.
Mads Mikkelsen/Kaecilius: Our villain of note. Called, and acted perfectly as, the zealot. He bleeds cult leader, and this is coming from a woman who was raised in what was basically a cult when she was a little girl.
Rachel McAdams/Christine Palmer: Eh. Her acting is good. The part… meh. The story could have easily existed without her, or it could have been written in a way that used her better. The CHARACTER of Christine Palmer is one of Marvel’s Night Nurses, which Claire Temple (of Netflix’s Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage) is also one. She wasn’t exactly vital to his origin, and isn’t even his only love interest (Strange has an extra-dimensional wife, Clea, often…).
Interesting to Note
This is one I don’t want to give too much information on, because I want people to go in fresh. I think knowing too much on the actual film might lessen the original fun. Maybe. There was one thing that was spoiled for me that I think I might have been more awed by had I not known it was going to happen.
I liked it. A lot. But I will say, some of the humor didn’t exactly land for me. There are a few jokes made about Wong’s single name that just aren’t funny. There were some other things that were. Sight gags, more like. But the more Ant-Man/Cap is old/Tony pop cultury jokes didn’t work so well for me. But visually it’s worth the price of admission. And it is something different, which is worth checking out, too. It’s taking risks, and most of them are paying off.
And the 3rd act? The big 3rd act battle is just awesome as all heck. It twists expectations and does things you might not expect. Worth it.