Sunday, April 5, 2009

DR. STRANGE (1978)

SUPER POWER GAINED FROM WATCHING MOVIE: The Power To Don Purple Tights, Orgy Guy Necklaces, and a Porn 'Stache and Still Look Awesome.

THE CARD:

Evil Tully, an even more eviler Lucille Bluth, That Asian Guy, Nurse Decrepit, a Mystical Pussycat Killer, and Matt Houston: Master of the Mystic Arts.

More details here.

THE ANGLE:

The evil sorceress Morgan LeFay (Jessica Walter) has been given three days by a Talking Glop of Goo or Satan to kill the living Master of the Mystic Arts, aka some Old Guy (John Mills). Old Guy knows that LeFay is gunning after him so he prepares for the end and summons his stalwart Asian assistant Wong (Clyde Kusatsu) to locate a successor. After scouring Monster.com (it's useless), Wong locates Dr. Stephen Strange (Peter Hooten), a kindly New York physician with mystical Brillo pad hair. Meanwhile, LeFay (when not scaring the shit out of black kids) puts a spell on local pretty girl Clea (Anne-Marie Martin) to get her to join her murderous quest. Clea is subsequently tormented by slow-motion dreams of running in Jello pudding and pushing Old Guy off a bridge, which she then does. After a night of screaming at cab drivers in womanly hysterics (ducks), Clea ends up in Strange's care at the hospital where she has womanly fits and hallucinations (ducks again). Old Guy meets up with Strange just as Clea goes into coma and Old Guy informs him of Strange’s destiny to become the greatest sorcerer on Earth, just behind the Magic's Biggest Secrets Revealed guy. Strange then pops some Old Guy acid and leaves his body and trips into a colorful spiral of supreme awesomeness on the Astral Plane, chilling and leaving his troubles behind. Oh man, I've been there. He fights a knight with a goat head sent by LeFay and, ahem, enters Clea's body to get her out of the coma. Strange is reluctant to accept his new responsibility but Old Guy assures him that, uh yeah, it's destiny and stuff. Clea sneaks into Old Guy's house, kicks Wong's ass, and has a final showdown with Old Guy while Strange and Clea are out banging. Old Guy then gets literally hung out to dry *huh yuk!* and LeFay sets her sights on our Brillo-Pad-Head hero. Strange has a showdown of his own with LeFay and the fate of the universe, the trippy Astral Plane, and TV movie actors with kitchen aid toupees hangs in the balance.

THE FINISHER:

The Sorcerer Supreme Doctor Strange was a personal favorite comic character of mine back in the 70s, when the stories were trippier than today and delved deeper in the real world of the occult and shamanism. But the good Doctor didn’t really hit it off commercially like his cohorts Spidey, Iron Man, and X-men. Strange was often a mid-carder or second banana in the Marvel superhero world, despite his immense powers. His stories were often steeped in the mythical, arcane, and occult worlds that Marvel excelled in the 70s. Although he often interacted with the cape and tights crowd, Strange’s adventures were definitely not typical superhero stuff that could translate to a popular audience easily. So it’s really a head-scratcher to discover that a TV movie was made that appears to be a pilot for a subsequent series. Thankfully, a Doctor Strange series never came to fruition because man is this thing BORING. Hooten’s dialogue is mostly dubbed and his sole expression is one of complete befuddlement. The Dreaded Dormammu would cry fiery tears of shame if this guy was his arch enemy, I can tell you. SNORT, SNICKER. The rest of the cast looks bored and the script is blah, with little to nothing happening for the span of 100 minutes. The differences between the comic book and movie are numerous. In the comic, Old Guy is the Ancient One and he is Asian and not a Brit. In the movie, Strange is a kind doctor butting heads with the establishment at his hospital. In the comic, Strange was a egotistical jerk who got his comeuppance when we lost the use of his hands in an accident and then went on a spiritual quest to find himself which led him to the mystical arts. In the comic, Wong was not Dr. Dennis Okamura from The Young and the Restless. Adaptations from comics to TV is a challenging effort and unfortunately there are more examples of what can go wrong than what goes right. Dr. Strange appears to be a serious effort to bring this character to life, but with the limitations of TV budgets and the need for time fill, the effort failed and instead comes across as amateurish and unfortunately, laughable.

1 comment:

dragonmanes said...

Ive always questioned this one, never caught it on the SciFi channel marathons during Christmas when I was a kid but I have always been interested in it. Thanks for the review, may bootl-- wait for the DVD release to check it out sometime!