Director: Scott Derrickson
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch*, Chiwetel Ejiofor**, Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen
Have I Seen it Before: Yes, but oddly enough I did not make it in the first weeks of its theatrical release. Between this and Ant-Man (2015), I’m not entirely sure why I wasn’t in much of a hurry on some of these latter phase 2/early phase 3 MCU movies.
Did I Like It: Yes, but I wonder if the movie is holding back.
I suppose I have something of a conception of why this film didn’t initially rise to the top of my agenda, and that’s because I had next to no knowledge of the character up until the MCU tried to bring it into the mainstream***.
And from what I’ve seen of the movie, it is that jamming into the mainstream that weakens the whole endeavor. People love Strange because his exploits are like an acid trip in 64 colors. Here, the film is loopy at times, but not “last ten minutes of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), and more just loopy enough to make sure the film can have a strong opening weekend. Amid the cascading dimensions, there’s an unrequited love story and a pretty basic superhero origin tale at the core. It’s fine, but it’s not terribly revelatory.
So the movie succeeds, as it’s objectively an enjoyable time spent at the movies, and doubly succeeds because it makes me want to steep myself in the greater mythology of the Sorcerer Supreme. I want to be a fan of Strange, I just wish Marvel hadn’t held back.
And maybe they won’t from here on in.
*Joking about his name has become pretty passé by the time I write this, but I’m as certain as I can be without actually checking the footage that his one of the alternate names for Gerry Dorsey, and I’m reasonably sure that we hadn’t heard of the actor before that time. What is he hiding?
**Why my spellcheck was bent out of shape about “Chiwetel” and not “Ejiofor” is beyond me. Why it’s only bent out of shape the second time I typed the last name, I’ll never know.
***Which would be a big part of the reason that the casting of Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One. It is whitewashing, sure, and that’s not great, but it also frees a character from the constrains of gender, which is better than not good. Interesting at least that the film could both fail and succeed to embrace diversity. And it certainly isn’t the most whitewashed film to star Cumberbatch.