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Thursday, October 26, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Doctor Strange

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, watchin' movies and blogging about them.  Time to head back to the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Doctor StrangeThis is in my notes at March 19, 2017

Doctor Strange poster

Well, time for another Marvel film.  I know it's become trendy to poop on Marvel for not taking any creative risks and just sticking to a formula, but sometimes, a well-made formula film can be very satisfying.  Such is the case with Doctor Strange.

We've seen this tale before:  cocky rich playboy, always the smartest one in the room, taken down a peg thanks to a tragic accident.  This teaches him humility and he sets out on his hero's journey to rebuild his life.  Along the way, he gains some great powers and some great responsibilities and joins the Avengers.  I mean, Marvel first gave us that formula with Iron Man.  We saw variations with Captain American and Thor.  And again, a variation with Doctor Strange.

But I would argue, when introducing a new facet to your cinematic universe, is it not best to stick to the formula so that way you don't lose your viewers?  I mean, Captain America introduced us to the threat that is HYDRA and our main McGuffin of the Infinity Stones through the Tesseract.  Thor brought us Asgard and the nine realms.  And Doctor Strange brings us outright magic. 

Plus it helps when you've got a great cast.  As expected, Benedict Cumberbatch does a fantastic job as Dr. Stephen Strange, highly gifted neurosurgeon who loses the use of his hands in a car accident, and on the way to regain the use, begins learning the mystical arts.  Tilda Swinton is also really cool as the Ancient One, Dr. Strange's mentor in the mystical arts.  And you've also gotta love Chiwetel Ejiofor as Mordo, Strange's friend who eventually becomes his arch-enemy.  I like Mordo's character arc, and how his and Strange's different methods to achieve the same goals eventually leads them down different paths.  It's the arc I wish Sinestro got in Green Lantern.

As a frustrated DC guy, Doctor Strange is kinda the movie I wanted Green Lantern to be.  Hal Jordon is our cocky test pilot who's knocked down a peg during a disastrous test flight, and that sets him on his hero's journey.  Sinestro is his friend-turned-enemy as they begin to showcase their different methods for pursuing the same goals.  And the power rings portrayed the same way as magic in Doctor Strange...allowing new methods of insane combat where the wielder's imagination is the only limit. 

Of course, it does have some pitfalls.  As is the case with Marvel films, the villain tends to be a little weak.  Mads Mikkelson is a great actor, but Kaecillius really doesn't do much in the villainy department.  Equally kinda wasted is Rachel McAdams as Christine Palmer, Strange's supportive girlfriend.  As the desire for more female superheroes on the big screen grows, I hope the "supportive girlfriend" trope falls by the wayside. 

And I'm sorry, but Benedict Cumberbatch's American accent just sounds weird to me. 

But despite the usual formula and the usual flaws, Doctor Strange is another fun and enjoyable Marvel outing.  I liked it. 

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