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Doctor (Not That) Strange?

13/04/2016 15:20

Many years ago, in an era before video recorders, (imagine that kids!), I stayed up late one Friday night to watch a 1978 movie. That film was Dr Strange, a forgettable TV fantasy epic starring Peter Hooten and John Mills, based on the classic Marvel comic of the same name.
I was a fan of the comic, and hoped that one day we would see a lavish big screen version. So when the news arrived at that Benedict Cumberbatch was playing the eponymous sorcerer, like millions of fans around the world, I was thrilled by the news. Now the trailer has arrived, I'm not so sure.

Thanks to the success of films like The Avengers, Captain America and Guardians of the Galaxy, we are in an era where Marvel are taking some serious risks on the lesser known properties.
One problem with Dr Strange is it looks like it was ghost directed by Christopher Nolan.
Consider the scenes: maverick hero staggering around a Nepalese wintry location? So far, so Batman Begins. A city folding in on itself? Didn't we see that in Inception six years ago? Even the score sounds like it was composed by Hans Zimmer.

Obviously as these movies cost hundreds of million dollars, the producers want to make it look like the blockbusters we've seen before, so we know we are in safe hands. But are we?
Director Scott Derrickson was responsible for The Day the Earth Stood Still remake, which was not a bad take on the classic 1950s Michael Rennie sci-fi offering. However, the third act turned into a generic orgy of pixels and CGI jiggery-pokery. In short, it was a massive letdown.
If Deadpool taught us anything this year, it's that fans of Marvel movies are tired of sci-fi fantasy epics that take themselves too seriously.

We are about to embrace, or run from, the epic that is X-Men: Apocalypse, another of those Bryan Singer movies in which Magneto hovers around, lifting things up and dropping them from a great height.
The twist this time is that the ubiquitous Oscar Isaac plays the purple bad guy, and looks like he's stepped from a Mighty Morphin Power Rangers movie.

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Art: Roger Crow

Judging by the trailer to that movie, there's not a single laugh in the offing.
Obviously in the DC camp, there have been reports that Suicide Squad, the Dirty Dozen of superhero movies, expensive re-shoots have been taking place to inject more comedy into the proceedings.
Why? Because many fan boys and girls thought that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was a bit too serious for its own good, and obviously with Deadpool costing a little over $50million and grossing almost $800million, comedy was the way forward.

Marvel's next big movie, Captain America: Civil War, (or should that be Avengers 2.5?), is with us in the next few weeks, and that also looks like it will test the patience.
Shoehorning even more Marvel characters into the good guys versus good guys concept, it reminds me of that classic Python sketch in which a world of Supermen is not that special, but one man steps out from the masses - Michael Palin's Bicycle Repair Man.
And if you exclude excuse the obvious segue, we are in a cycle of costumed hero flicks that have outstayed their welcome.

What we want from our heroes is something super, but because there are so many of them Dr Strange is going to look more like Doctor Mundane as he fights for his place in Marvel's rather crowded cinematic universe.

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