Monday, December 12, 2016

Monday Movie Mania - Doctor Strange

Despite my lack of blog posting lately, DH and I have been hitting a few of the holiday new release flicks for date night. So you'll get a stream of reviews before you hit the theaters on Christmas Day (in order to avoid your families, we all know it's true). *grin*

(I'll say this now. I refuse to go see Rogue One, so don't expect a review from me on that one. I was sorely disappointed in The Force Awakens last Christmas. I'd rather re-watch the original trilogy a zillion times than feel that disappointment again.)

I never followed Doctor Strange in the comics. My casual knowledge of him is mainly from the X-men and Avengers books. But hey, it's Benedict Cumberbatch!

I don't hold Star Trek: Into Darkness against Benedict. My issue was with the movie being a remake after wiping the slate clean in the reboot and the script writing, not his acting. But his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes made me believe he could definitely pull off the Sorcerer Supreme.

Except Benedict...

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...doesn't quite make it through the whole movie as Doctor Strange. Once again, I thoroughly blame it on the writing

Yeah, I'm starting with the cons first.

1) The writing in regards to Strange's personality and his personal growth is uneven. The first act was pitch perfect when it came to him as the arrogant, perfectionist surgeon. His initial depression and lashing out after the car accident was also well done, but when he becomes semi-proficient at magic, he becomes...Tony Stark. I swear to Dormammu, Benedict channels Robert Downey, Jr., through the last half of the movie, and not just because of the matching facial hair.

(Yes, I know the beard thing was a joke in the comics. And it was the comics. But Stephen wasn't acting like Tony in that particular scene.)

The sarcastic attitude didn't mesh with Strange's alleged spiritual revelation earlier in the story.

2) The pacing of the story was also uneven. The first half of the movie could have been one of those tearjerker lesson movies that A-listers put out this time of year in order to grab an Oscar nomination. The second half was a MCU action flick.

1) I don't want to ruin the movie if you haven't seen it yet, but the ending was a clever little stunt that would be apropos to Captain Picard or Doctor Who. Or even Starlord. If you go in expecting an massive beatdown ala the most of the superhero flicks, you'll be disappointed. Personally, I love it when a hero uses his head instead of his fists.

(And before anyone jumps on me, yes, I am aware that all three Captain America movies end with Steve using his head, but that's only after his fists failed.)

Before I get into the Ancient One casting controversy, let me start by saying I have absolutely love Tilda Swinton! I have since I first saw her, which was in 1992's Orlando. It's a damn shame that the controversy clouded her usual superb job.

Here's my assessment: No matter what Kevin Feige and the rest of the Doctor Strange team did in regards to the Ancient One, it would have been deemed "wrong".

If they cast a man of Asian lineage, they would have been lambasted for the racist attitude with which the character was originally designed. If they cast a white man, they still would have been lambasted for white-washing. If they had cast a male of another race than Asian or Caucasian, they would have been accused to changing the character for the sake of changing the character.

And if they put in a woman...

Oh wait, they did, and everyone lost their shit. *sigh*

This wouldn't have been the first time Swinton has played a male character (see Orlando or Constantine), but no one, including Feige and his team, was willing to give her a chance playing the Ancient One as a male.

If anyone should have been bitching about race crap, maybe it should have been about casting Mordo as a black man. (If you don't follow the comics, Mordo is a major villain in the Doctor Strange books.) Once again, I love Chiwetel Ejiofor's work, but does he have to always be cast as the black sidekick in American movies?

It's not just him though. The MCU is really big on black sidekicks. I think the Hulk is the only Avenger that doesn't a black sidekick. But hey, give 'em time...

Overall, I give Doctor Strange 7.5 stars out of 10, mainly for not having the punch it could have.

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