Montag, 5. Dezember 2016

DOCTOR STRANGE: Fantastic or Flawed? - A Short Discussion

 Hello there puny humans,
about a week ago my good friend B.A. and I had a short discussion about Marvel's latest: "Doctor Strange". While he (as a student of literary studies) was incredibly excited about this film and the way it was made, I thought that although being a very fun film, it had a few flaws that kept it from being great. I thought that our argument actually got quite interesting. So much so, that I didn't want to withhold it from my readers. It might help if you read his and my full review first, so if you have the time click on the hyperlink to check them out. Other than that it should be noted that this is the transcript of an early morning whatsapp conversation that was held between showering and getting to university, so these are our raw, spontaneous and unpolished thoughts (usually we sound much more intellectual). Oh, and of course this text his spoilerific, although it probably just doesn't make sense to you if you haven't seen the film. But without further ado, here it is:

Cinemartian: My Doctor Strange review is finally online. B.A., I hope you forgive me that I wasn't as enthusiastic as you were. :D

B.A.: I was just about to write you a message on that. ^^ To put it in the words of Nick Mason: "It's okay, but you're wrong, but it's fine, but you're wrong.

Cinemartian: I think I laid out my criticism pretty clear :D also I said that I did like it!

B.A.: In general I understand your Iron Man argument, but I feel that saying "the movie is like such-and-such" keeps you from looking closer. I mean you do touch on the fact that it is tonally different, but such an argument would have been a good opportunity to take a look at where exactly the differences are on a story level. And they certainly exist between Dr Strange and Tony Stark.

Cinemartian: Of course, but then these need to be emphasized more. Something that Star Wars: The Force Awakens did much better. And the darkness in Doctor Strange doesn't come back after the first third. Especially the end would have benefited from a bit more seriousness. There should have been a real struggle. Put him a hundred years in that time loop with Dormammu. Let him die a thousand deaths. Show the pain and the sacrifice he makes. Not a montage of funny deaths. I mean, you are totally right, that his hands are the perfect symbolism for the fact that he will never be able to control everything. It's a good message, but overall he seems very much in control of the situation during the showdown. It should have looked like a dauntless attempt and not like an elaborate plan where a positive outcome is anticipated from the get-go.
….. aaand I hate evil space clouds.

B.A.: But that is simply not what the story structure that Marvel uses is like. Four acts: Introduction, rising action, internal climax, external climax. The emotional climax takes place when Mordo confronts him with the fact that he only defends New York, because his own life was at stake, as well as in the conversation with Tilda Swinton. And Dormammu is an evil dimension cloud, if you please!  But I admit that on the spectrum of reactions to the film I might be above average positve. Although everybody I talked to loved it just as much. But those were all people from literary studies. :D

Cinemartian: I just didn't think the pay-off was big enough. Compared to the build-up.

B.A.: That's where the movie scores through the brilliant casting of Tilda Swinton.

Cinemartian: You mean because she is so good at making the same face all the time?

B.A.: Whoa, you don't wanna tell me that you didn't like Tilda Swinton?!

Cinemartian: Just kidding. I just wanted to poke the bear :D

B.A.: Oh youuuu!

Cinemartian: :D

B.A.: But I am not sure if I can agree with you concerning the pay-off. Because throughout the film Dormammu is constantly displayed as this timeless force that is technically unbeatable, unless you find a big weakness and are ready to utilize it. If Strange wouldn't have reached the point, and instead would have desperately looked for a solution, then he would have never gone to Dormammu, but instead would have had a desperate fight against the superior Kaecilius.

Cinemartian: That is theoretically what lies in that story. They just didn't really get it out of there. And since every evil space cloud has been defeated until now, I need a little more than „destroyer of worlds“ to frighten me. Ten years ago I might have liked the film better.

B.A.: Well, it's not like I am over-interpreting here. That is exactly what happens, and exactly what people love about that film. Strange wins, not because he fights desperately in the end and can take one punch more, but because he doesn't stop questioning things and therefore finds Dormammu's weakness. Brains over brawn. The only thing I can admit with a clear conscience is that the movie could have done a little more to show for how long he is stuck in that time loop.

Cinemartian: I get what you are saying. And since he is in a time loop, the physical pain disappears immediately. But the suffering I talked about earlier can also be psychological. To show how much time he spend in that loop would have definitely helped.... Instead of „Monty Python's Ministry of silly Deaths“.

B.A.: Haha. But I guess that's always the risk if you kind of change the traditional external climax, that you lose seriousness. That seemed to be the problem with Iron Man 3 for a lot of people. I guess this time we just are on opposite sides ;)

Well, there you go. I hope you enjoyed the insight into B.A.'s and my argument. In the end, we agreed to disagree. But what did you think of Doctor Strange? With whom do you agree? Or do you have a completely different opinion? Feel free to comment below, as well as to like and share this blog. Till then I wish you a marvelous week!

Your Cinemartian

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