Rating: 4 of 5
tldr: It’s Inception meets The Matrix in super hero form. Which, how has no one done Inception meets The Matrix before? They fit too perfectly together. I actually review the movie with the rest of my reviews.
On this side, I kind of don’t want to talk about the casting and I kind of do. Usually I can’t stand Tilda Swinton. There’s this coarseness to her that I just find very off-putting. But the controversy isn’t my opinion of her, it’s that a white person replaced an Asian character. And I get that in many ways that’s reverse diversity. Except that clearly the filmmakers were actually going for diversity in their choices. They wanted to sub-vert the stereotype of the ancient, wise Asian man.
And they didn’t want to make it an ancient, wise Asian woman because they wanted to avoid the Dragon Lady stereotype.
Director Scott Derrickson wanted the character to be middle aged. I would have gone with middle aged black woman or young Asian woman – because a man in the role is just no fun and a terrible imbalance of male roles.
But Derrickson wanted the character to be Celtic. Which means white people.
I do have to admit – a middle aged white woman is about the polar opposite of an old Asian man. And this may be the first role ever that Swinton didn’t aggravate me.
And every aspect of this movie was so intentional, so obviously considered and the nuances pulled together that you know Derrickson chose a Celtic culture for more than the color of their skin. Maybe casting a white person is the opposite of diversity casting. But I wish we lived in a world, in a film and tv landscape, so diverse, so full of work for all people, that this sort of play on opposites wasn’t a controversial creative choice.
And the reason I kind of don’t want to talk about it (even though I did) is because having seen the movie, there so much else to talk about.
Like all the metaphysical ideas bandied about in the pauses between the fights.
Or how it has great action.
And stunning visual effects.
Like how they had to try soooo hard not to recreate the kung fu scene with Morpheus and Neo when Strange is meeting The Ancient One.
And that the humor is more dead-pan rather than witty one-liners.
And there are dimensional characters all around (but not enough girls).
Or how the city bending scenes look just like Inception, except when the buildings turn into death-trap machines.
It’s a layered film (though not deep) with a lot of things going on and a lot of things to talk about (which I very much like) while it’s still as bright and shiny and accessible as any super hero film.
If Guardians of the Galaxy is a tonal shift, say to the left, in the Marvel universe then Dr. Strange is a tonal shift to the right. It’s interesting to see one cinematic universe have a cohesion and still strike different chords. And it’ll be more interesting to see how Dr. Strange is involved in future films.