30 October 2016

Marvel Is Going Strange

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Doctor Strange is arguably the most unbelievable film that Marvel have decided to use in their Cinematic Universe. Not because of all the magic and crazy shit in it of course. Who can be surprised by that in a world featuring The Avengers?! Even more insanely, it actually seems to take place in an America in which literally nobody ever seems to have to pay their hospital bills! I mean, what the fuck?! At one point an injured Doctor Strange zaps straight into the hospital, calls the name of a nurse he knows, finds an empty operating room and gets seen to straight away. The other day my mate fell strangely onto his ankle because he's a total fucking idiot and I thought we were both going to die in that hospital the wait was so long. It was the same as that time I slipped in the bathroom when balancing on the side of the bath and cracked my bollocks on the sink. Who cares about magic when the film has hospitals that treat people as well as this?! This might be a universe in which aliens are being shat out of the sky, and various ancient Gods are taking a huge glittery dumps onto humanity, however clearly it's not all bad!

In this film however we are introduced to wizards and shit like that, so I suppose they do deserve a mention along with the film's miracle health service. Doctor Strange features Benedict CuCumberbatch as a kooky and unlikeable doctor that, although good at his job, is cursed with one main flaw. Usually in the case of kooky doctors, this is the desire to do in a few old ladies with a couple of naughty injections, but in his case it's actually that he's completely at the mercy of his own arrogance. Kind of like Justin Bieber, except that Strange actually has some skill and people aren't just watching him in the hope that this is the day that the lone gunman has decided to turn up. Anyway, so Strange gets smashed up in a car accident that leaves him unable to move his fingers to the degree that he previously could. Sadly this means he's no longer able to do his job of fingering people's brains back together and so decides to travel the world on the hunt for a group of mystics that might be able to fix him. Essentially, it's another one of those stories in which some rich bloke goes abroad in search of a very specific kind of hand job. Except this time he comes back with magical powers and a cool new cape instead of just hepatitis and a secret from his wife.

Oh, I suppose I should mention too that the leader of the magical cult that helps him is the always-brilliant Tilda Swinton, as she sports a head that's as a bald and smooth as the world's most perfect testicle. She's having a little trouble right now because one of her old magical mates has gone rogue and decided to destroy the world. However to add a little moral ambiguity into the movie, the villain tells Doctor Strange that actually his plan is to save everybody rather than harm them. He wants to drag humanity into a dark world in which we'll all live forever which, he claims, is surely better than dying, right?! Err no! I appreciate the attempt at adding a little depth to the story, but beyond the cast of Fame, who the fuck wants to live forever? Being alive is a miserable enough experience as it is with the only real thing that keeps me going being the knowledge that over the next few decades I'll also be able to watch a few people I hate die too. I'm looking at you, step-mother!

So this didn't so much as throw an ethical dilemma into the works for me as much as it did make me want CuCumberbatch's Doctor Strange to do his job and curb stomp this black-eyed bitch back to hell. Oh, and in case that made no sense, the character has demonic black eyes to help let you know that he's actually evil. If you needed another clue then he's also played by Mads Mikkelsen. As ever, Doctor Strange seems to suffer the same problem that all non-Loki-featuring Marvel movies do in that their villain isn't quite as well developed as it should be. Which isn't to say that I don't love Mikkelsen, of course. It's just that any impact the character does have is really as a result of his own eye-bleedingly brilliant talent. However the issue that this film does address is that of Marvel's constant problems with its films third acts. Does it end with an aerial fight over a city? Yes? Then it must be a film in the MCU! However in the case of Doctor Strange, this is avoided in favour of a more psychedelic and seemingly self-aware nod to Groundhog Day which is a little more original. It's also ironic because since Iron Man was first released in 2008, it's pretty much felt like we've all been stuck with the same fucking ending happening over and over and over again.

And speaking of Iron Man, I suppose that's the one film in the MCU that Doctor Strange is the closest to. Both main characters are geniuses, arrogant, ego-driven, and flippant- or to summarise.. they're both twats. However by travelling a fairly formulaic origin path, they both head towards developing a little self-awareness and a sense of how insignificant they are in the grand scheme of things. Of course had they both wanted to find out how little their lives mean in the grand scheme of things, they could have saved a lot of time by simply having a drink with my stupid fucking family. What differs the two films however are the visuals and feel of Doctor Strange, which is as trippy as shit. A lazy person would say that the makers of this movie must have been on drugs. But it's Hollywood.. of course they're on drugs. I mean, Christ.. if I'd been involved in the God awful London Has Fallen, then you'd definitely find my bloated corpse washed up on a beach after a fucking heroin overdose.

At one point, Strange goes through a sequence that I can only describe as being like what a hippy might experience if they licked a tropical frog and then drank the contents of their lava lamp. He flies through a serious of colours as though letting a rainbow fart paint into his face after it's tripped its balls on some bath-salts. Oh and in what might sound like a failed attempt to write some lyrics by The Beatles, his fingers grow hands that grow little hands from their fingers. Imagine a cross between Inception and that advert in which everything that bloke touches turns to skittles and you're not too far off what this movie looks like. On the face of it, this is a by-the-books origin story, however due to the special effects and visual design, it becomes the movie equivalent of trying to see the mystical picture after getting stoned and playing with a magic-eye picture. The cast are all great too, with Cucumberbatch proving that not only can he play a pain-in-the-arse genius in Sherlock but that he can also play a pain-in-the-arse genius with an American accent. What a range. This is The Big Trouble In Little China of the MCU in that it's the magical little oddity that stands out due to its weirdness. It might not be up there with this years Civil War, but as a slice of blockbuster silliness then by the Hoary hosts of Hoggoth, Marvel don't half put the 'Marvel' into that was fucking marvellous. Thanks for reading and see you again, motherfuckers.

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