Saturday, November 5, 2016

In Theatres: Doctor Strange (2016)

The last of Marvel Studios' films for 2016, "Doctor Strange" is actually the 2nd live-action film to feature the Sorcerer Supreme.

The first was a made-for-TV movie produced by Universal for CBS in 1978, meant to be a pilot for a series. Unfortunately, they didn't go any further, and, well, it would be just as well, as it took more liberties with the long running Marvel strip than this film did. We'll talk about that one another time.

Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock) is a brilliant but ego-centric surgeon who has let his success go to his head, very much at the expense of his relationship with Dr. Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams). One rainy night, Strange, distracted by taking calls on his phone, is in a horrific accident, one that costs him his skills as a surgeon. Or so it would seem.

Desperate to regain full use of his hands, Strange travels to Khatmandu in Nepal to seek out the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) after getting a tip from another man that had gone to Nepal. In Nepal, Strange undergoes training in the mystic arts in order to do battle with a rogue sorcerer who left the Ancient One some time earlier.

Prior to the movie's release, there was much criticism over the casting of Swinton as the Ancient One, traditionally an Asian male. Originally, Strange's long-time valet in the comics, Wong, was not going to be used, but after the backlash over Swinton, Wong was inserted, but not as a valet. Instead, he is one of Strange's teachers, as is Mordo, who, in the books, is Strange's arch-nemesis. The post-credits scene goes a long way to set up a sequel in that regard.

Long time comics fans will recognize the name of Christine Palmer as one of the three original leads in the short-lived Night Nurse series from 1972. Palmer would later return, many years later, in a Dr. Strange miniseries, and the relationship forged in that book was referenced in the past tense here, as Strange & Palmer are now just friends and co-workers.

Let's take a look at a trailer:

Coming attractions:

"Logan" (March 3): Hugh Jackman & Patrick Stewart team up one final time, and we're introduced to a young woman who, in the comics is the current Wolverine......

"Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2" (May 5): Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, and friends return. The first laughs in the audience on this day came with this trailer, when Drax dispenses some "romantic advice" to Star-Lord.

"Wonder Woman" (June): Gal Gadot returns as the Amazing Amazon.

"The Great Wall": Matt Damon fights dragons in China.

"XXX: The Return of Xander Cage" (January): Vin Diesel & Samuel L. Jackson return, and it seems they may be looking to ret-con out the earlier sequel with Ice Cube subbing for Diesel.

"Life": A space drama from Columbia, due sometime in 2017.

"Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales": Johnny Depp returns as Jack Sparrow. And you thought this movie series was done.

"Saban's Power Rangers": The long-running franchise gets a cinematic reboot. Lionsgate is doing this one instead of 20th Century Fox.

"Doctor Strange" gets a B+.

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