Friday, 16 December 2016 00:00

Quick Hit: Doctor Strange

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The Marvel brand is a fairly homogeneous one.

Their movies all have the same sheen, the same finish, the same general vibe. Sometimes that’s a good thing — they’ve got a disparate slate of projects, and that homogeneity helps remind the audience that all the movies occupy a consistent universe.

But sometimes it’s a bad thing. Sometimes that self-similarity can shave away a story’s sharp edges and sap it of the kind of flavor and personality that only arises from strong, distinctive choices.

Doctor Strange is a nice mix of the homogeneous and the distinctive. It’s funny—the movie reminded me of a quote about the great comic writer Grant Morrison. I’m paraphrasing, but gist was: What’s unique about Morrison isn’t the structure of his stories; it’s what he asks his artists to draw. In that spirit, let’s concede that the structure of Doctor Strange is basically indistinguishable from Iron Man—arrogant prodigy makes good, saves world—but happily, the filmmakers (B-movie shockmeister Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Sinister), directing a script by Jon Spaihts (Prometheus), which Derrickson rewrote with longtime collaborator C. Robert Cargill) gave themselves a lot of admirably strange imagery to draw.

And what did they draw? Well, let’s just say things got trippy, man. The filmmakers channeled the psychedelia of everyone from Jack Kirby and Walt Simonson to Keith Pollard, John Buscema, George Perez, and Ron Lim. Comparisons will be rightfully made to The Matrix and Inception, but damn if Doctor Strange didn’t top ‘em both in terms of sheer, mind-blowing visual invention. The resultant movie is a full-tilt drug-out that would make a perfect third leg in a triple feature that included Ken Russell's Altered States and Terry Gilliam's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. It's ego death wrapped in a big red cape.

Also welcome was the movie's final baddie, classic Doctor Strange nemesis Dormammu, which gave the MCU team a chance to show us what Galactus might look like under their command. (I also appreciated the reference to the Marvel Universe astral deity the Living Tribunal. Here's hoping all of the astrals'll come out to play in future installments. Paging Eternity and the Lords of Order and Chaos!)

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Tony Lazlo, CC2K Staff Writer

Robert J. Peterson is a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and a co-founder of the pop-culture emporium CC2K. He's written for newspapers and websites all over the country, including the Marin Independent Journal, PerformInk, Space.com, the Telluride (Colo.) Daily Planet, Gridiron Goddess, CC2K and Geekscape.net. He's appeared as a pop-culture guru on the web talk shows Comics on Comics, The Fanboy Scoop, Geekscape.net and Fandom Planet.

His writing for CC2K is often reprinted on his personal blog.

He's written several novels, short stories and screenplays. He's the founder of the small publishing company California Coldblood Books. His novel The Odds is available wherever books are sold, or on Amazon.

In addition to his writing, Robert is a graphic designer and web developer who specializes in open-source technologies like Joomla, Wordpress and Drupal. He built this website with the Joomla CMS. As a designer, he has built postcards, business cards, logos and many other websites. He would also love to design more mood boards for motion pictures.

His friends call him Bob.

Website: www.robertjpeterson.com