Sunday, November 6, 2016
"STRANGE" MASTERS MOVIE REALM
Starring Benedict Cumberbatch,
Directed by Scott Derrickson
Written by Jon Spaights, Scott Derrickson, C. Robert Cargill
Based on the comic books by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
Runtime 115 minutes
Yet another fantastic superhero flick in the mighty Marvel manner. That said, this one's different.
For one thing, it's a superhero movie without any guns, high-tech gadgets, or mere muscles. Dr. Strange is...unique. His peerless powers as the Master of the Mystic Arts result from, of all things, reading. A novel idea for comics and film alike.
An ideal candidate for the esoteric role of the neurosurgeon whose accident leads him to alternative medicine might have been Daniel Day-Lewis. Because that casting feat would require more magic than even Marvel can muster, they got the next best choice in Benedict Cumberbatch.
The accident which befalls the initially arrogant doctor leads him, in a 70s way, to Eastern mysticism. Verily, the occult. Under the tutelage of the Ancient One (Swinton), in Tibet no less, the humbled Stephen Strange learns there is far more to the multiverse than his financially successful little mind had ever believed possible. Greater realities, much greater, and mind-bending, most of them in groovy black light.
In addition to learning the ways of far out amulets and astral body travel, Strange discovers that not all those who partake in the study of deep knowledge do so with benign intent. Dark forces seek to admit into our dimension a world-devouring power which they probably shouldn't trust.
Visually the film sometimes resembles Inception. Skyscrapers and New York City streets twisting upward at right angles, dream-like perspectives challenging the viewer. Further filmmaking inspiration may also include The Matrix. (To investigate source material for the original character, check out the 1930s Bela Lugosi flick, Chandu, the Magician.)
Ultimately, Dr. Strange is of course another Marvel superhero movie, and as such carries certain limitations. Also, because it's the first one in a new franchise we have to wait a little bit before we get what we really want. But when we do, the result is pure movie magic.