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Dr. Strange non-spoiler movie review

tigerofcachticetigerofcachtice Posts: 551 Arc User
Review in a single sentence: IMHO it's pretty good, on par with the original Iron Man, Thor, Cap films.

Other non-spoiler notes: there is a mid-credit sequence AND an end-credit sequence, please stay til the end.



My favourite film of the genre is probably Civil War (which IMHO vastly improved on the source material) followed by maybe Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant Man (which surprised me, as I was indifferent to his comics, but the film was so much fun.) Dr. Strange isn't as good as those, but is very comparable to the origin movies of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, etc.

That's quite an achievement considering I was quite indifferent to Dr. Strange's comics, that again I think they improved on the source materials. I mention this in case you or your friends felt the same way, that Dr. Strange wasn't really a character you followed and you're still debating whether or not to go see this in the theatres. My recommendation: it's a decent watch, but no rush, you can borrow a friend's Blu-Ray or something.

However, I would like to address certain controversies surrounding this film, to show they aren't that controversial.


Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One (the "whitewashing" issue)


There's a central figure known as the Ancient One, portrayed in the comics as an old Asian man. In the film, it was portrayed by a British woman, Tilda Swinton. That was supposed to be a problem because it's racially insensitive.

I'm Chinese and I watched this in Hong Kong. I quite liked Tilda Swinton's portrayal!

If there was a problem, it wasn't "whitewashing", it was "wisdomwashing". The writers gave her dialogue that doesn't sound like Eastern philosophy, it sounds like Introduction to Eastern Philosophy 101. That was a disconnect for me at the beginning.

However, even that turned out to not be an issue. The film decided, cleverly IMHO, to portray "The Ancient One" as a very experienced yet still fallible person with a tough job. She's NOT supposed to be the source of all wisdom, she is its grad student teaching assistant.

That difference actually explains a great deal. There are plot elements around this important distinction, and she was great.


Benedict Wong as Wong


Wong was portrayed in the comics as Dr. Strange's valet, which is supposed to be derogatory. I read and watched Wooster & Jeeves growing up, where the valet is clearly the mentor in reality, to say nothing of Alfred with Batman...but I saw the point they were making, it's a fair point.

Benedict Wong, as Wong, was great here. He has a position inside the Ancient One's organisation, which is not so much hierarchical as having distinct roles & responsibilities. He actually plays it like a kung fu film character trope, which works because...


Spellcasting is actually more a kung fu than "abra cadabra"


Maybe because it better fits the medium of film, spellcasting is portrayed as a form of martial arts, which is awesome. At its tamest, it is like Taichi. At its most intense, it's like a Jackie Chan film BUT people summon their own props, which is pretty cool!

Both Tilda Swinton and Benedict Wong really, really manifest their physical presence well within this context, with the former being the cool master and the latter being the-chubby-guy-who-moves-a-lot-faster-than-you-may-think like Sammo Hung.

They happen to have signature weapon-types, their go-tos, just like we in CO have certain powersets we prefer. It's pretty cool.

And speaking of magic...


They didn't exactly copy Inception, they weaponised Inception


In the early trailers, there were visuals very, very comparable to those from Chris Nolan's Inception. It turns out that's not something that everyone does, it's a specific, special thing that is related to the plot, which is why it was in the trailers. It's a type of attack and it's pretty cool.

Basically, that and everything beforehand are not problems for me.


What were actual problems for me...and they are minor issues, really


Benedict Cumberbatch is pretty decent, but he had the same fake American accent as Hugh Laurie in House M.D. It didn't help that he, too, was a British actor playing an arrogant American doctor. Also, they had scenes of Hong Kong that were not Hong Kong, they were of Hong Kongland, some sort of theme park based on Hong Kong or something. Those issues were far more jarring for me than Tilda Swinton not being an old Asian dude. That said, I don't think anyone cares about those issues except for me, so I just mention it out of completeness.


Final Verdict - 3.5 out of 5 mangled fingers from a car accident. If it was among the 1st wave of Marvel films, it'd be a 4, but having seen how much more creative Marvel Studios can be, this film didn't push the boundaries as far as recent films have. Worth a watch, but no rush IMHO.
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Comments

  • ealford1985ealford1985 Posts: 3,582 Arc User
    Great review!

    I've never followed Dr. Strange but I know the basics.

    Iron Man 1 is way above Cap 1 and Thor 1.

    I actually dislike most of the Thor movies. I however loved Iron Man 2 and hated 3. Thor 2 by far the worst. The Cap movies are the best but the first was lacking...

    So do you think it falls into Thor 1 and Cap 1 territory or is it more on par with Iron Man 1?

    The take away is...good but not great. Which is disappointing.
  • chaosdrgnz43chaosdrgnz43 Posts: 1,675 Arc User
    I'm pretty new to Doctor Strange. My big bro has been filling me in with basic knowledge on him before we watched the film. The film was quite trippy, and I agree that the way they portrayed magic was mesmerizing.

    I personally thought that the reason they changed the Ancient One was because so we could sort of relate to the character. Not saying seniors can't do it, but Tilda did a decent job.

    I still don't get why Mordo is black though. What is with superheroes having a black sidedkick nowadays? It's quickly becoming cliche.
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  • championshewolfchampionshewolf Posts: 4,375 Arc User

    Great review!



    I've never followed Dr. Strange but I know the basics.



    Iron Man 1 is way above Cap 1 and Thor 1.



    I actually dislike most of the Thor movies. I however loved Iron Man 2 and hated 3. Thor 2 by far the worst. The Cap movies are the best but the first was lacking...



    So do you think it falls into Thor 1 and Cap 1 territory or is it more on par with Iron Man 1?



    The take away is...good but not great. Which is disappointing.

    I enjoy Cap 1 more than Iron Man 1, to be honest, but I enjoy them all. But I don't try to measure the movies against each other and rate them as they are. Though GotG and Ant-Man have to be my current favs.
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  • tigerofcachticetigerofcachtice Posts: 551 Arc User

    So do you think it falls into Thor 1 and Cap 1 territory or is it more on par with Iron Man 1?

    If I had to pick, I'd say it's closer to Iron Man 1 than Thor 1 and Cap 1. It's a tough call, and that may be due to both Iron Man and Dr. Strange starting as wealthy, arrogant, bearded guys from Manhattan that fall from grace in the Middle/Far East to learn how to make/use new gadgets/ancient relics, thus becoming superheroes to save the day. However, even in that comparison, I felt RDJ was more natural as Tony Stark than Benedict Cumberbatch was as Dr. Strange.

    However, even beyond that, it was to do with the pacing/dynamics of the films. There were times with Thor and Cap where I was waiting for stuff to happen. In Iron Man, I think they made being trapped in a cave with RDJ interesting. In Dr. Strange, I think they made having to study in a library with Dr. Strange or even Wong very exciting. It's about what you do with quiet moments and they achieved a lot with them in Dr. Strange.

    -----

    A quick note on Mordo, I have to agree with the point. He started out a total badass, but there was a moment in the film where Dr. Strange basically says, "I'm clearly the hero of this story, because as you can see I've obviously learned how to be humble now, which makes you the sidekick to help me, chop chop."

    And on that note did you see Iron Man's new sidekick? It's not just her existence, but how she introduced herself in the latest issue of Civil War II in the comics.
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  • championshewolfchampionshewolf Posts: 4,375 Arc User

    However, even in that comparison, I felt RDJ was more natural as Tony Stark than Benedict Cumberbatch was as Dr. Strange.

    It's a one in a life time scenario. Robert Downey, Jr.'s life is pretty much a mirror of Tony Stark's; both were young and wealthy, both were excessively flamboyant and even went to excess on indulgences, such as drinking or drugs, and well both had major life changing events that nearly cost them their lives. You can't find a more perfect actor for a character that other than the circumstances of how, are almost perfect mirrors of one another.
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  • bulgarexbulgarex Posts: 2,210 Arc User
    Interestingly, before RDJ the "arrogant genius whose worldview is changed by trauma" wasn't a part of Tony Stark's comic-book origin. His personality didn't change much from before to after; having to wear tech to keep his injured heart beating was his biggest emotional burden in his early years. But that character arc was always Dr. Strange's, from when his origin was first revealed in the 1960s.
  • championshewolfchampionshewolf Posts: 4,375 Arc User
    bulgarex said:

    Interestingly, before RDJ the "arrogant genius whose worldview is changed by trauma" wasn't a part of Tony Stark's comic-book origin. His personality didn't change much from before to after; having to wear tech to keep his injured heart beating was his biggest emotional burden in his early years. But that character arc was always Dr. Strange's, from when his origin was first revealed in the 1960s.

    Yea, the whole "I don't make weapons of mass destruction, or weapons in general" thing is a recent outcome.
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