Tales of the Rampant Coyote

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Movie Impressions – Doctor Strange

Posted by Rampant Coyote on November 4, 2016

doctorstrangemovieposterI went to a special preview showing of Doctor Strange  a few hours before its general release. That’s strange enough on its own… These days, I’m usually the guy who ends up seeing films just before they leave the theaters (fewer crowds) or at home. This time, we made it a special occasion, and had a blast.

Now, we were with a whole bunch of geeks who were predisposed to be loud and cheer at all the best parts. IMO, in this day of HD TVs, that’s the sort of thing that makes going to the movie theater still worthwhile. It’s an experience and a group event.

The movie itself — I don’t want to give anything significant away. If you’ve seen the trailers (or read the comics), you know what you are in for. But if you don’t know anything about the character from the comics and want to be completely unspoiled altogether, then quit reading now.

Remember the world-twistiness of Inception? Yeah, expect a lot of that. Half the action sequences take place in other dimensions or planes of existence. I think even Star Wars movies aren’t so dependent on CGI and special effects. Fortunately, all that post-production craziness isn’t at the expense of story or acting. The amazing thing is how well it is all blended together.

There are some tiny off-hand references to the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The one placing it after the events of Captain America: Civil War is sort of a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it piece of dialog. But at least until the now-traditional teaser during the ending credits (and there are TWO, stay until the very end of the credits!), there’s nothing that requires you to have seen any of the other Marvel movies. If you are a fan, they are little inside jokes. If you are not, they are tiny backstory references.

One thing that fascinated me (especially afterwards, in fridge-logic thinking about the film later) was how the sorcerers of the film are presented. In the comics as well as the movie, Doctor Strange is freaking powerful. He’s up there at the top of the power-level for the superheroes… yet he’s still fundamentally a plain ol’ mortal guy. The sorcerers may have some arcane defenses and the ability to escape certain death situations a bit more easily than the average Joe, but otherwise they are as “squishy” as any other person. That, and like Iron Man, Ant-Man, and Falcon, their greatest powers have to come from devices… arcane relics rather than technological items, but still. It’s a thing.  That theme gets hit a few times throughout the film… someone may be awesomely powerful in many respects, but they still have to be humble and not only come to grips with their mortal limitations, but embrace / surrender to them.

Now, that does parallel Tony Stark’s arc in the first Iron Man movie, which might add fuel to the fire of the super-hero film haters out there. Because, hey, we can’t allow two movies to exist where the hero starts out as an over-achieving pompous douchebag who receives an overdue karmic smack-down and has to learn humility to become someone better. Fortunately, no non-superhero movies in the history of Hollywood have ever used that story arc… Anyway, it’s a very common arc, and it was fun to see what they did with it.

Anyway, bottom line: It’s a strong entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Not the best, maybe, but in the top 50%. Which… considering how much I enjoyed even the weaker entries (like all of the Thor films so far)… is still high praise.

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