director Scott Derrickson
viewed: 11/05/2016 at AMC Metreon 16, SF, CA
I actually had to drag my 15 year old son to Doctor Strange. He’s in full-on revolt against superhero movies. My daughter, who has been pretty into the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe, was a lot easier to convince. It’s been a dry autumn for movies, so I was more willing than normal to go see the latest superhero fare.
I never had a relationship with Dr. Strange other than to think he was not really my superhero cup of tea. As a kid I thought he was pretty lame and wasn’t into weird mysticism in my comic books. As a result, I came to this one rather open-mindedly.
Doctor Strange features an origin story, which is just fine here. Unlike Superman or Spiderman, whose origin stories we’ve seen dozens of times, it’s worth getting the backstory here. Benedict Cumberbatch plays the good, if arrogant neurosurgeon, who suffers a horrific crash and nerve damage to his hands, heads to the East (Kathmandu exactly) to find a mystical healing but instead finds magic and expanded realities and superpowers and lots of stuff.
The cast carries this along quite well with Cumberbatch, Mads Mikkelsen, Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, and Benedict Wong. There was some criticism of whitewashing with Swinton playing a character who in the comics was Asian. Not familiar with the comics, I don’t know what to say here. She’s one of those cinematic aliens who is also a very fine actress.
Really, what struck me was that Doctor Strange is sort of the head-trippy Inception (2010) of the Marvel Universe. Remember all that city folding on itself stuff? Well what if they did that to the Nth degree non-stop? Actually my favorite scene was Strange’s immersion into the psychedelic reality of multiverses and uber-reality.
It was fun. And as Marvel is wont to do, post-credit scenes suggest that we’ll be seeing the magic doctor in the next Thor movie. The Marvel machine rolls on.
My son was unimpressed. My daughter liked it. Dad can’t win.