Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

Thoughts On Doctor Strange

  • Nothing else going on today, right?
  • Time enough to sit around, smoke doobies, and watch matinees wherein people with cheekbones throw special effects at one another?
  • And then drink coffee (and smoke more doobies) and write a thousand words of nonsense about it?
  • No worldly matters of pressing urgence?
  • Good.
  • Okay, let’s get this out of the way:
  • Boccecourt Chameleonface.
  • Bongledong Coffeemate.
  • Bradleycooper Cooperbradley.
  • Okay, I needed to get that out of my system: obviously, Doctor Strange is played by Benedict Cumberbatch doing his Doctor House impression, and he fights Mads Mikkelson, who is the single most European man that has ever lived.
  • Along the way, several minorities aid Doctor Strange and tell him how special he is.
  • You know, Enthusiasts, that I don’t write reviews.
  • Someone wants to pay me to do it, I will, but no one is, so I will not: if you’re looking for a thumbs up or down, then you have come to the wrong place.
  • Go read A.O. Scott, who is a grown man who makes a living seeing comic book movies.
  • (Why am I mocking him? That’s a great scam.)
  • And make no mistake: Doctor Strange is a comic book movie; moreover, it is a Marvel movie, mostly the script.
  • Do they still make paint-by-numbers?
  • Paint-by-numbers was a big thing when I was a kid: you get the book and a special set of paint labeled with numbers instead of colors, and the book would have line drawings of a well-known piece of art broken into numbered segments.
  • You would paint the sections marked 1 with the appropriate paint, and so forth, and when you had finished there would be a painting (kinda).
  • I think they found the screenplay version of paint-by-numbers.
  • Stephen Strange blah blah arrogant surgeon barble barble car crash yadda yadda magical foreigners boom boom boom special effects ending.
  • There were several iterations of this line of dialogue:
  • “Doctor Strange, do you remember the thing you said to me in the first act? Well, I now repeat it back to you in the third.”
  • The bad guy did bad things for reasons which I feel like they explained in the film, but I was not paying attention to.
  • The hero was tall.
  • It’s that kind of story: either there is exposition, or there is CG-enhanced gesturing.
  • According to movies, magic is 80% gesturing.
  • The other 20% is wardrobe.
  • You cannot wield the Wand of Watoomb in your jeans and tennis sneakers: it requires a robe/karate pajama/amulet combination.
  • The draw for this film is the hoodoo, and there is so much of: cities fold in on themselves, and Hong Kong fractalizes into spiraling mandalas, and the Dark Dimensions look just like Steve Ditko drew them.
  • These effects are rather special. (Except for the car crash scene, which looks like a well-made video game from 2011.)
  • See the 3D version, or the IMAX if it’s available, and smoke many doobies immediately prior to entering the theater.
  • It’s trippy, man.
  • Anyway: it’s a Marvel movie, with all that entails, and the most consistent feature of Marvel movies has been the hiring of actors who are stupidly over-qualified for the jobs.
  • Anthony Hopkins, and Alfre Woodard, and Glenn Close, and Tommy Lee Jones; that sort.
  • Strange is no exception: Chiwetel Ojiofor–one of my favorite actors since Serenity–and Mikkelson are superb; so are the women, Tilda Swinton and Rachel McAdams.
  • Rachel McAdams plays The Girl, and this sentence I am currently writing represents more thought about her character than the screenwriters applied to her over the entire course of production.
  • Marvel movies are not about The Girl: they are about white guys learning how special they are, and how they can do anything they want.
  • Tilda Swinton plays the Ancient One, who lives in China and is not Chinese.
  • At one point, one of the characters exposits that she is Celtic, but she ain’t fucking Celtic.
  • Tilda Swinton is Tllda Swinton.
  • That would have been an audacious choice to have the Ancient One actually be Tilda Swinton, like she defends the Earth with magic and she also does movies.
  • “That’s the Ancient One? She looks like Tilda Swinton.”
  • “That’s because she is.”
  • “What now?”
  • That’s a twist you would not see coming, as opposed to the other twists in the movie which you can be sure of before even leaving your house.
  • Again: this movie is Super Hero Product – subsection: origin story.
  • First half is the Call to Action, and the Shaman, and the Training; second half, the hero gets thrown into a situation he can’t deal with, but overcomes through believing in himself and also by using something he got in the first act.
  • I only had one major quibble, and it is a ludicrous one.
  • The secret magic monastery (NOT Hogwarts) in which Doctor Strange learns to wave his hands around mysteriously has a library, naturally, because you kinda have to have a magic library.
  • I mean, what’s the point of anything if you’re not going to have a magic library?
  • And this particular magic library, like all others, has a Librarian.
  • (The most magical of libraries only hire orangutans as librarians, but that’s a whole other story.)
  • He is Wong, who in the comics and in the next films plays Strange’s assistant.
  • In the comics, he was referred to as Doctor Strange’s manservant, but I have a feeling they’re going to drop that terminology.
  • Wong is your prototypical magic librarian: you don’t check out the books so much as ask him if you may borrow them.
  • You can’t have just anyone walking in and grabbing the Necronomicon.
  • That’s how you get demons.
  • Do you wanna get demons?
  • Because that’s how you get demons.
  • Which is all good and proper, except either Wong or whoever his boss is simply has no idea how to run a magic library.
  • For example, the Ancient One’s private stock of occult literature is not hidden in a secret vault, or turned invisible, or protected by giant, fanged bookworms.
  • They’re chained to a bike rack in the middle of the room, and not even with mystical chains.
  • Chains.
  • Like the Ancient One went to Home Depot and they cut her a length.
  • The Orb of Agomotto is also sitting in the middle of the room, and they try to slip in some bullshit about “the relic choosing the owner,” but I think this is just a case of lax security.
  • Plus–PLUS–the library has apparently had no protection spells cast over it whatsoever.
  • The magicians in Doctor Strange can create portals between places, and not with any great effort: it is literally the first trick that Strange learns.
  • Wong won’t give him a book he wants, so Strange zaps a little portal between his room and the library and grabs the book.
  • You have to be shitting me.
  • What kind of magic library is this that you can just blip in and out of?
  • The whole movie is about how Tilda Swinton and the rest of the magicians protect the world from the Dark Dimensions, but someone who has been learning spells for two weeks can apparate into the room where all the important books are kept?
  • We learn in the next scene that what Doctor Strange did was against the rules.
  • Rules?
  • Are we using the honor system, Doctor Strange?
  • It’s against the rules to steal money from a bank, too, but they still lock the doors.
  • Get your shit together, Wong.


  1. he also got stabbed thru the heart and then was fine 5 minutes later without even bothering to give us 30 seconds of healing-magic jargon and handwaving

    sometimes I can’t tell if you like comic book movies or not…I think you do, but then they put out a perfectly gorgeous Iron Man: Except It’s Magic Not Technology and you wanna THINK about it and stuff

    Dr Strange was fucking awesome

    • Thoughts On The Dead

      November 8, 2016 at 8:07 pm

      I totally forgot about that whole scene. I liked it very much, but it was such a basic story. Entertaining as hell.

  2. It takes you 1041 words before a comment on the Orb of Agomotto?

  3. I think you made an error in your preparations. According to the viewing instructions you are supposed to drop acid two hours before showtime, then start smoking your doobies. Leaving out that important step left your discontinuity channels open and your right hemisphere underconnected.

  4. Some comments,
    My wife will go to see this with me, because of Cumberbatch. So I guess I will go.

  5. Sirius 23 played Englishtown 77 today.

    Had not listened to that for a while, is that peak Keith? It seemed like peak Keith, I mean wow…

  6. I read that as manatee not matinees…. mommas don’t let you babies grow up to be farmers.

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