Horrorible Review: “Doctor Strange”

Enjoy this Monday with Mildred!

Doctor Strange movie poster

Doctor Strange

CFR and I were surprised when we noticed she had not yet reviewed this Marvel film*. I was so angry at myself for not seeing Doctor Strange while it was available in 3D that I waited to see it on disk.  It’s worth the wait, and not at all what I expected.

Marvel comics introduced Doctor Strange back in 1964, and the character was a sort of bridge between the supernatural powers protecting Earth and the bust ‘em in the mouth Avengers protecting Earth.  On seeing the trailer early in 2016 I thought the movie was even more magically inclined than it turned out to be, with the “magic” handled much more like a science.

Basically, the story is that Dr. Steven Strange, beebopping music lover with a fixation on super expensive men’s wrist watches rather than women’s shoes, and best neurosurgeon in the world, has a terrible car accident in which his hands are ruined for a surgical career. He sulks for a while, then goes off to mystical Nepal to learn how to use magic to power his hands back into an operating room. Instead, he finds a lot more power and a galaxy-wide threat to li’l old Earth. His teachers are The Ancient One, a sexually ambiguous bald woman who looks like Voldemorte with a nose. She’s teaching eastern mysticism in Nepal, so one would of course expect to see an Asian actress in the role. Hollywood explains this away with a line that she’s “Celtic”, iow, a Druid. Still lame. Mordo, played by the fabulous Chiwetel Ejiofor, is his other teacher. He’s not nearly as old as the ancient one, or as comically gifted as Dr. Strange. The librarian is played by Benedict Wong, who has a couple of the funniest moments in the film.

I was surprised at how funny Doctor Strange is, with some great lines and comic imagery, my favorite being when the cape wipes tears off the doctor’s face. The cape finishes off the doctor’s total makeover in the film to make him look like the comics character, but this cape is way more sentient than in the comics, to the point of involving itself in teaching the doctor and fighting bad guys. I’m calling this the Harry Potter Effect, since that series so often involved inanimate objects as more helpmates than tools.

There is a mild romantic sub plot involving another surgeon at Strange’s hospital. I feel conflicted about this character. She’s tough enough to hold her own professionally and when some mystical fight scenes break out around her, but she felt more like a Girl Friday than his equal. Having her fingernails painted black didn’t help with that. The film also has one of the better Stan Lee cameos in it, with him reading Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception – a 1954 essay about the writer’s experiences tripping on mescaline, and which many people think is the basis for the comic.

The movie drips with comic imagery – I even saw some Kirby dots – and couldn’t have been made so realistically even a few years previous. Where Guardians of the Galaxy introduced the greater universe to fans, Doctor Strange shows us the trippy side of the Marvel universe. The movie is heavy on the learning curve for both the doctor and his audience, fast paced and often funny. It’s a load of fun and I’m still mad at myself for missing it in 3D.


Doctor Strange Official Trailer 2

*CFR: In Addition: I die of shame. *headdesk* Thanks Mildred.

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