This Week's Review: Inferno and Doctor Strange

I managed to squeeze two movies into my schedule on the weekend of November 6: Inferno and Doctor Strange. Both were good examples of escapism and I enjoyed them both.

Inferno is the latest adaption of a Dan Brown novel; it is probably the weakest of the three adaptations we have seen thus far. Tom Hanks is good as Robert Langdon, everyone’s favorite art historian-symbolologist; the only other cast member I recognized was Felicity Jones whom we will see in December’s Rogue One.

As with most adaptations, the script takes liberties with the original novel; some characters from the novel do not appear while some new ones do appear, particularly an old flame from Langdon’s past. Whether she is friend or foe remains in question for most of the film.

The plot of the film is very complex, but, even so, it is simpler than that of the original novel. The photography of Florence, Venice, and Istanbul, particularly the aerial shots, is excellent.

Whether Dan Brown will ever publish another Langdon novel is a good question; one Langdon novel, The Lost Symbol, has never been filmed and I can’t say that I am chewing my fingernails about the omission.

Those who like art historians as detectives and spies might go back to Clint Eastwood’s The Eiger Sanction, but It is far more violent than Inferno.

My second film, Doctor Strange, is Marvel Comics’s adaptation of a character who first appeared in 1963 as a backup feature in Strange Tales. To say that it was weird is an understatement; Steve Ditko’s art was unusual, but it fit the character. Benedict Cumberbatch plays the former neurosurgeon who becomes a master sorcerer and does quite well. Tilde Swinton steals the show as “the Ancient One” who sets Strange on a mystical path. (Ditko’s original version of the character was that of a very old, very decrepit old man, so Swinton’s version is more than interesting.)

The special effects have been attracting attention since the first trailers appeared back in the spring. Someone has been studying such films as Christopher Nolan’s Inception very, very closely. The special effects more than justify paying for a E-D version of the film.

For many viewers, their favorite scene comes during the closing credits when Strange meets Thor to discuss a battle with Loki. This, plus another allusion in the film, verifies that Strange will be part of the next Avengers film. Another scene at the end of those credits, shows one of Strange’s allies preparing to become one of his bitterest enemies. Life is good.

I should also mention that the new trailers preceding this film include one for the sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy.