Script Review & Opinions
So I finally read the Dr. Strange
script by Alex Cox from, I believe, 1990 or so, and I wrote down my thoughts on it as I was reading it. What follows will be my (long) opinions and ratings on the script and how well I think it pulls off portraying Dr. Strange. If you want the short hand version, then I'll sum it up here: (lowly) Passable. #DoctorStrange #UnUsedMovieScript Dr. Strange
What a mess of a script. That's my simple way of saying it wasn't great, but it also wasn't too bad. It was definitely written as a summer, big budget movie. Ton of magic and display of power, quick moving, and yet very little time is spent on the actual characters. You get some back story on the 5 or 6 main characters (I'm being generous with that number) and the movie spends most of its time speeding from point A to point Z with very little breathing room. There's nothing there to get invested in. There's no thinking to be had.
1. Dr. Strange and Wong don't come off as the characters I've grown to know today. Strange isn't particularly arrogant, though he does have some know-it-all tendencies. He also comes off as someone who is not as experienced and as powerful as perhaps he should be, which is fitting since his master is still around for 10-15 minutes of the script.
2. Wong was a bit of a miss for me. Sometimes he spoke broken English and sometimes he didn't. At first, I thought this was intentional to throw off certain characters, but it happened at random times. He also contributes so little to the film's narrative that he could have been written out completely or replaced with a random, new character and the same goals would be accomplished. He's basically just a glorified cameo. I know fans would get mad if he weren't there or if he was outright replaced, but there's nothing character worthy about his inclusion at all.
3. The script introduces us to a new character named Tanya who is Strange's book agent. She also happens to have latent magical abilities she has no idea about that pop up occasionally via dreams or random actions the script gives little context to. She serves as the unwilling sidekick and realist of the film. She also functions as a damsel and a POV character. She's the movie's Jubilee (X-men TAS).
4. The villains are bland. There's nothing to write home about for any of them, including Dormammu and Mordo. The four Medieval demons serve as nothing more than magical fodder, which leads to some of the more spectacular battles/events Strange finds himself in.
5. I liked how varied the magic is in the movie, and I did like how some of it played out. The astral/magical battle between Astral Strange and Mordo and the Four Medieval demons was a highlight for me. I also enjoyed the Baal/dolls/car scene where Strange got to use his desert plant magic to help save Tanya. Basically, this ties into my point that the villains, specifically the demons, were there for nothing more than to show off big FX scenes from time to time. Very "X-men: First Class" like.
6. One of the most disappointing scenes for me was the battle between Strange/Mordo/The Four Demons while Dormammu was trying to break free from the other dimension he was in. It was solved too quickly and only resulted in Tanya having another damsel moment. So much of the movie leads up to this event that I was led to believe it'd play a bigger part in the film's climax and conclusion. It didn't.
7. The final battle between Strange and a Dormammu empowered Mordo was a spectacular FX magic fest, but ultimately, I found myself bored at that point while reading it. I'm sure it would translate better on screen, but it was there that I essentially gave up on the script ever finding a heart. It did give us a last minute plot twist with Tanya, but it was a "been there, done that" cliche that barely pinged my interest.
8. I have very little to say about the resolution or the denouement. I have as much to say about it as the script decided to dedicate to it.
9. I did like how the writer (Alex Cox) tried to tie in the, then upcoming, millennium with the rise of Dormammu and his plans. It set an effective timeline and frame of reference.
Overall, the script was passable but disappointing. I liked the varied usage of magic, but there was nothing engaging about the story or the characters enacting it. It was your standard summer fare. I would have enjoyed it more if the characters were more rounded, Wong had more of an impact, Mordo was actually explored in a meaningful way, or Dr. Strange had more of his arrogant flair. There were moments in the script I would have cut out completely, and I'd definitely do away with the entire "Tanya" subplot. Fortunately, there was no love story in sight, which I actually approve of. If I had to apply a rating to this script, it'd be a 5 on a 10 point scale. I can see why they passed on making it.