Sunday, October 30, 2016


Doctor Strange Thoughts

My beloved husband and I lurched to the cinema this afternoon to see Doctor Strange – a ‘put the clocks back day’ treat (all right, birthday, too). Always a risk. Happily, Marvel’s latest won us both over.

A few thoughts why…

Capes! Clocks! Consequences! Characters! Cumberbatch!

Most of all, I’ve always loved psychedelia. This gives you all the spectacle you could wish for, from Sixties trippery to far-out realms to folding cities. It is, very much, my bag. Though for ideal Blu-ray play we’re going to need a bigger telly. Or four. Or six. And a big room to experience them in as they line every side.

I never read a lot of superheroes when I was younger. But I did like weird s**t, and fantasy, and capes. And much as I’ve enjoyed many of the Marvel movies, a bit of me’s thought at times, ‘Meh – they keep holding back on the costumes because they’re too afraid people will point and laugh. Never mind leather muscles. I like big flowing capes. I’ll never take you seriously until you put on your cape.’

At last, the main hero has a cape, and not just any cape, but a massive flowing cloak that has its own credit. Just seeing that in the trailer had me sold. Richard had to give me one of those looks when I pointed and shouted joyously, “Cape!”

Mads Mikkelsen. Ten years after Bond, still an outstanding villain. Still with a reason. Still problems with his eyes.

Decisions have consequences. Even time catches up with you.

Chiwetel Ejiofor. Compelling. I’ve only read the graphic novel A Nameless Land, A Timeless Time, but fabulous as that was, I wasn’t expecting Mordo to have a character, too…

Everyone’s a b*****d. Everyone’s got a brain. Both of these surprise and delight me.

Tilda Swinton. Translucent. I don’t mean her character, and another superb performance, but: just to look at her you can believe she’s ancient and yet not aged.

“From a certain point of view” has always seemed like a reason to turn someone on the path to the dark side.

Benedict Cumberbatch. Now with American growl. I came out of the cinema with the thought that it’s his reaction to a future he once thought averted (if you remember a story from about six years ago), now inescapable…
[Cumberbatch growl]
‘I’ve seen many terrible futures.
I’ve avoided many of those roles.
But it always ends at this moment.
I am a Doctor.
I am a Lord of Time.
And I am on lunchboxes.’
[/Cumberbatch growl]

Massive dinner consumed (thank you, beloved husband). Before we can manage cake, time to watch yesterday’s Class. Woo! Psychedelic titles! I’m in.

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I've never found Doctor Strange an interesting character, but I was keen to see this for the obvious two reasons -- Cumberbatch and MCU. I am glad I did. I think in terms purely of visuals it's probably the best film I've ever seen: all the Inception-like city folding, all the pure-Kirby psychedelia. Excellent stuff.

I was a bit thrown by how much the eponymous doctor was House, to the point where I was almost seeing Hugh Laurie's face. I think you could read the whole film as a sort of redemption arc for Dr. House.

In the end, though I enjoyed it a lot, Doctor Strange fell a bit short for me, probably because it was sold as MCU but didn't really feel like part of that universe. Perhaps it's just a matter of mis-selling (but then would I have seen it at all had it not been MCU? Maybe not.) The occasional MCU nods, like the passing mention of the Avengers and the casual reveal that the amulet is an infinity stone, felt tacked on.

That said, I did enjoy the moment of recognition as Strange, early in the film, took a phone-call from the hospital while driving, to be told of a US Army colonel in his mid thirties with spinal fractures, and I recognised that it was James Rhodes, aka. War Machine, as injured in Civil War.
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