Clip It: Each day, Jon Davis looks at the world of trailers, featurettes and clips and puts it all in perspective.
The first time I saw the Doctor Strange trailer, I convinced myself that I liked it. Benedict Cumberbatch looks the part, cause he's white and tall and a combination of confident yet confused. Tilda Swinton is an ethereal weirdo, which is always fun, and NYC is upside and sideways, and that hints at something mind blowing. Maybe I was persuaded by the last bit, which featured one of those great comic book movie pithy one liners that every trailer has to have now, but upon only a few minutes reflection, I couldn't keep up the charade with myself. It just didn't work for me. I'm sorry, Marvel. Don't be mad, I'm sure I'll still see it. In fact, I think it's mandatory if I want to keep my driver's license (is that a law? It feels like that's a law.).
I like everyone involved in this film, but I'm already seeing a problem: What's Doctor Strange's personality? Here's what we are told. He was in a car accident. His beautiful face and body are fine… but, oh no, his hands! Also, fine. We know from the comics he can still use them, he just can't be an amazing surgeon anymore. I'm not sure how well that's relayed in the trailer. Then Benedict inextricably finds himself interested in the occult. So that's his deal. Car accident. Occult. Astral projection.
But the most important stuff is missing, like, say, his personality. Trailers are short, but they should make time for that. Is Stephen Strange arrogant? Does he need to get taken down a peg? Is he a loner? Is the only personal thing he's got going are forlorn looks from Rachel McAdams? No talking, mind you, just McAdams regarding him with sadness. So what we got is Benedict Cumberbatch with a cape and jazz hands. Also, an American accent, a pretty good one, actually. I'd give him the Hugh Laurie award for best gravely American accent. But overall, he seems like a snore.
And then there's the nutty skyscraper thing. Buildings bending into crazy shapes. It feels like when the filmmakers were spitballing ideas for this, they said: “Let's do something cool. Remember Inception?” “What about The Matrix? That's cool, too!” “How about both!” “Done! What denomination should we print all the money in?” The flat world of a one dimensional NYC is derivative. It's a basic head spinner. Nothing too fancy. It's mind bending for people who like Guy Fieri. A little wacky but nothing we can't handle. It looks like I'm going to have to bring my own drugs if I want this movie to work the way it's supposed to.
I'm not looking for the intricacies of Primer. I know this is a superhero movie. But Doctor Strange, I expected more from you. I'll still see this movie, but Cumberbatch, but by the Eye of Agamotto, you better bring it!