(During quarantine my girlfriend and I are going through the Marvel movies chronologically. Surprisingly, she is really enjoying them, maybe even more than me. We are already a couple down and I’m gunna do write-ups for all of ‘em, the good and the bad.)
I went in with the lowest expectations on this because when I asked my Marvel Stan of a friend is this is any good, he responded with, “It’s watchable.” He inflates his opinions of MCU movies tenfold, and if he says it’s only “watchable,” then surely Doctor Strange is pure trash. Not just trash, I was expecting Thor level trash. I don’t know if it’s because I had the lowest possible expectations, or if it’s genuinely a fantastic film, but I loved Doctor Strange. I think it’s the latter, it is a well made film and despite the narrative of sorcerers, other dimensions, and capes with a mind of their own, the story totally makes sense.
Although I had reservations before I watched Doctor Strange, mostly because I think the casting is the least imaginative casting ever, Cumberbatch is fantastic as the character and he goes to much deeper places the comedy actors do. There’s a distinct difference between Cumberbatch tier acting and, say, everyone else’s acting in the MCU. However, one thing I didn’t buy was his American accent. For whatever reason, it just doesn’t sound right.
There is a scene early on in which Strange, one of the world’s greatest surgeons, gets in to a nasty crash and he wakes up with metal pins in his hands, keeping him from every being able to operate as a surgeon again. The reveal is devastating. Cumberbatch is really great at showing the pain that keeps genius people from being able to complete what would be magnificent achievements. As he struggled to come to terms with not being able to operate anymore, I saw Cumberbatch channel his role as Alan Turing in the final scenes of The Imitation Game (if you’ve never seen it, stop what yer doing and watch it now, proper beautiful film, so it is.)
Tilda Swinton is not my jam, let alone Tilda Swinton in a bald cap. I hate being negative, but I’ve not seen a single film in which Tilda Swinton changes her facial expression once. That weird praying mantis face never changes, and her being “weird” just isn’t enough for me. Not only that, but I am fully in the camp that casting Swinton is whitewashing the Tibetan character. Despite all their excuses, I still don’t understand why Marvel white washed the character. It never made sense to me and I think it’s completely offensive and unfair. However, bald Tilda Swinton might be the very only criticism I have of the movie.
The special-effects are mesmerizing. The movie is basically the elevator scene in Inception for a full two hours. The way they manipulate the surroundings and time is a literal mind warp. It’s like watching a film through a kaleidoscope. You remember that star gate scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey, right? This movie is like if the star gate scene took 100,000 hits of acid.
As soon as it finished, I immediately wanted to re-watch it. I’ve never had that feeling about an MCU movie before. It’s a fantastic and infinitely enjoyable movie with the best acting in the MCU thus far and a surprisingly engaging story. I have little to no bad things to say about it. Hats off to everyone involved, especially the FX guys.
One more thing, I want Doctor Strange’s watch drawer.