After seeing Doctor Strange recently I wondered for a while why I enjoyed the movie so much.  After all, the movie does feel extremely formulaic at times, primarily due to the fact that it functions as an origin story for Doctor Strange, and thus must tick certain boxes.  One could look at the movie extremely cynically and point to similarities between it and Iron Man, or Thor, but I feel that's an unfair comparison.  Doctor Strange, much like all the other origin stories in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, imbues its formulaic hero's journey with charm, wit, and a surrealness, uncharacteristic of mainstream cinema.

Watching the movie the obvious question that one arises at is: What exactly makes this movie "strange"?  After all, if a movie called Doctor Strange didn't deliver some sort of wonderful weirdness, a collective groan would have no doubt emerged in the auditorium.  Fortunately that didn't happen, and we were indeed treated with some fantastic, and visually stunning, set-pieces; set-pieces that feel entirely true to the character's origins in 1960's counterculture.  The most obvious example of this is a scene where the Ancient One, played enigmatically by the brilliant Tilda Swinton, sends Stephen Strange's mind on a reality-bending journey across the multiverse.  The scene contains all kinds of trippy imagery and surreal moments, including a particularly jarring sequence where Strange enters a universe where his fingers morph into smaller hands; smaller hands whose fingers in turn morph into even smaller hands.  The whole sequence contains all the ingredients of a LSD trip, and I mean that as the highest compliment to a movie that succeeds in trying to implant us into the panels of Steve Ditko's earliest Doctor Stange illustrations.

However, for me the moment of true "strangeness" came during the movie's climactic confrontation between Doctor Strange and Dormammu, in which Strange traps the two in an infinite loop of Strange bargaining for humanity, and Dormammu killing Strange in response.  It was a few seconds into this scene, around the time that Strange had been killed for the second time, that I began to hear Sonny and Cher's "I got you baby" in the back of my head, recalling the ever-timeless Groundhog Day.  For me, the sequence's strangeness lay in its reference to a movie I would never had parred with Doctor Strange.  However, on closer consideration, Strange's journey over the course of the film is not unlike the journey taken by Phil Connors (Bill Murray) in Groundhog Day.  

In a time where superhero movies seem to endlessly mimic each others final act (beam in the sky, saving the world), it was refreshing to see Doctor Strange avoid this pitfall by having its hero use his intelligence and wit to defeat his adversary.  Perhaps that feat is the movie's greatest, and strangest, accomplishment. 


Who am I?

My name is Stuart Kilmartin, and I hail from Galway, Ireland.

I studied English Literature at NUI Galway (B.A. & M.A.).  Spent many a moon reading Edgar Allan Poe & I can recite Ozymandias, by Percy Shelley, word for word; it's irrelevant, but I'm proud of it.

Deep-rooted passion for all things film and television.  For those who say David Lynch is too obscure, I agree; and yet, I love him.

I started this blog with the intention of getting my thoughts out there and to gain more experience in entertainment writing; and to prove that all those years watching movies weren't time wasted.

I've been writing for over a year now, and I've collaborated with ComicBuzz & Headstuff, where I've had a number of pieces published.  Check out some of my other published work here  http://comicbuzz.com/author/stuartkilmartin/ or https://www.headstuff.org/author/stuart-kilmartin/ 

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