When you grew up with Marvel Comics, as I did, everyone had their favorites. For me it was clearly Spiderman. Dr. Strange was so on out there, and Oriental in character that it didn’t make my list of top five fav ravs. But comics are one thing, movies are another. For example, I loved the Fantastic Four comics, but the several attempts to film those stories turned out disastrously poorly. Not so with the Benedict Cumberbatch boot up of the Dr. Strange epic. This movie is simply excellent, and if you liked Inception and the visual deception of Inception, you will love this film. It makes Inception look like child’s play when it comes to visual CG.
By now we are all familiar with the basic secret sauce of the best Marvel movies, like say Iron Man I, or Guardians of the Galaxy I, or Antman, or at least one of the Spiderman incarnations. First of all humor is important whether it is prompted by something visual or something spoken. It shows that the story tellers don’t want us to take this too seriously, or at least they want it to be fun. Good for them. Secondly, the good guys need to be somewhat likeable even if they are head cases, or ego maniacs like Tony Stark,or have flaws. Clark Kent in the original DC comics was just not that easy to relate to— too squeaky clean. And yes, the bad guys need to be badddddddd to the bone. Thirdly, of course we need the Stan Lee cameo, ala Hitchcock. Fourthly, we need snappy dialogue and action, alternating back and forth. Fifthly, we need a postlude previewing what’s next up. In this case Dr. Strange provides a tall one for a tall Norse hero. Finally the movie needs to have some positive resolution,and while it’s o.k. to leave us a bit in suspense, it’s not o.k. to leave us in the lurch.
It is not an accident that the origins stories for each of these main Marvel films are often the most compelling. Here we see how the super hero became what he was to be, and the backstory is often very interesting. Dr. Strange’s backstory makes Tony Stark look like a modest man. Dr. Strange– jerk ego maniac neuro-surgeon. Now that the Marvel franchise is big time and big budget, the big stars are lining up to be in them, and in this one Tilton and Ejiofor are just excellent as helpers to that Strange dude (who looks rather like Mephistopheles in a red cape in this film). If you’re looking for two hours and ten minutes of visually stimulating fun (and yes, this one goes better in XD or 3D) then this should keep you entertained until Thanksgiving at least, or until November 18th when some pretty Fantastic Beasts show up.