What a refreshing taste: a superhero movie that doesn't take itself too seriously nor is too brutal to take a twelve year-old to go see. I honestly, well, LOVED this movie. Lately, I've found this genre to be a little long on grit and short on fantasy, but Doctor Strange hits a sweet spot that's gonna work for most audiences. Some diehard comic geeks are probably going to find this achievement a little whimsical for their liking (I heard, "Well, it's not Civil War" from a middle-aged fan.), but it was time to ease up on the self-importance of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as far as I'm concerned. Doctor Strange is expertly directed and comes in at, blessedly, just about two hours.
The hero archetype is similar to that of Iron Man/Tony Stark (wealthy smart-ass with a conscience); however, Doctor Strange takes us on a more metaphysical ersatz spiritual narrative, replete with Tilda Swinton as a High Sorceress of multiple dimensions. I know there was some controversy over the casting of Ms. Swinton in a role many thought should have been portrayed by an Asian actor, but, not knowing the source material, Tilda comes off plenty exotic and other-worldly enough for the proceedings. The role of gal-girlfriend-love interest, often a tough gig, is pulled off by Rachel McAdams with all the aplomb of Gwyneth Paltrow from the Iron Man series.
Also featured is kind of a modern twist on the psychedelic climax from 2001: A Space Odyssey, so definitely cough it up for IMAX 3D if you can. The visuals, in general, I also found to be refreshingly different from the steel blue and gray color palette we usually get too much of in a Marvel movie.
I go to a lot of these Thursday big opening nights, but I found something peculiar with this particular crowd: the audience skewed older than usual for one of these evenings, while the film itself seemed skewed at a slightly younger audience than is typical. I would say that the tonality of the piece is much more in line with Guardians of the Galaxy than Thor or Captain America. And you know what? That's a good thing.
Lastly, the success of these offerings is dependent on the lead actor in whatever "super-suit" they're cast in. To that end, Benedict Cumberbatch fits this one like a glove, and you forget that he's pulling off a pretty great American accent in a matter of minutes. I still insist (rightly or wrongly) that Benedict wears fabulous hairpieces in all of his films -- my guess is he's locked up whoever has done William Shatner's for decades, but who cares? He's terrific.
A ton of dreck has been released this fall. Just awful. That's one of the reasons I'm so pleased to be able to recommend a picture aimed at a wide audience. I thought it was wonderful.
(Loudinni specializes in movie reviews under 500 words, sans spoilers.)