Review: Doctor Strange (2016 movie)

My friend Bryan Jones has said that Benedict Cumberbatch looks like he was drawn by Steve Ditko — the artist behind the original Doctor Strange comics — so he was natural choice for the role.

Early in the film Dr Stephen Strange is a brilliant neurosurgeon (just ask him) but a bad driver, leading to an accident that smashes his hands. Since his only other skills are typing, needlepoint, and guitar, this leaves him with little to do but feel sorry for himself. He does, on the other ha—

He does, however, have a lot of money, so he devotes himself to looking for a cure, eventually winding up at a mystical academy in Kathmandu Nepal run by a hairless Tilda Swinton, and after some difficulties with the admissions process he’s allowed to study there. He proves to be a gifted student and an under-appreciated class clown, sarcasm not being covered in the syllabus.

The casting of Swinton has provoked a lot of criticism, but the filmmakers had decided they would get complains no matter what they did. In particular, making the Ancient One an aged Asian as in the comics would likely have been criticized as a racist cliché.

There’s nothing particularly profound here, but it’s a fun movie with excellent special effects and a nice sense of humor.

Incidentally, any time I think of Kathmandu I’m reminded of a National Geographic article on the country from a few decades back. The photographs showed a beautiful alien landscape and buildings of decidedly exotic architecture. In one especially memorable image of a street scene there is a sign fixed to a pole with the hand-lettered words “New York Style Pizza” over an arrow pointing the way.


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