Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Doctor Strange

**DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Getting some strange with this one!  And not on this one.

Doctor Strange– 5 out of 5

Marvel Studios is back with their 14th film in their shared cinematic universe and they are offering up a fresh face and a bold new direction with Doctor Strange.  It goes without saying that I was pretty damn excited for this film because I’m a huge fan of comic books and their movie adaptations.  Like Ant-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy and even the first Iron Man, this film was a huge gamble on Marvel Studios part.  If Iron Man was a C-list hero when that film first came out (and now he’s a household name that even my mother knows), the Sorcerer Supreme Doctor Strange was an M-list (or maybe even lower).  Sure, fans of comics know him but what about mainstream audiences?  Were they ready for this vastly different hero?  Was the MCU ready to add a little magic and mysticism to their movie-verse?  I sure as hell think so!

                                                                                                             Marvel Studios
We literally have two Sherlocks in the MCU!

Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a wickedly talented surgeon with an ego as large as his immeasurable skill.  After a car accident causes the nerves in his hands to become irreparably damaged, he becomes obsessed with doing anything and everything to get them working again.  His drive pushes out the people who care for him and in his obsessive state, stumbles upon a mysterious man named Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor).  Mordo leads him to The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), a being of immense power who opens up Strange’s world to the wonders of magic and the multiverse.  However, as his training begins, a fallen sorcerer named Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), along with his faithful followers, who attempts to disrupt the balance of the universe and open a gateway to the dark dimension and unleash a powerful being upon all creation.

                                                                                                              Marvel Studios
Imagine having the ability to astral project out of your body while you're at

While many cite a growing boredom with Marvel’s formula for their movies, they’ve come to be known for me as a form of comfort entertainment.  There’s a level of quality I’ve come to expect and they continuously hit it and, at the same time, continue to forge new grounds with their shared universe and its landscape.  While Doctor Strange does have some issues working against it, it never stopped me from having a really great time watching it.

                                                                                                             Marvel Studios
He looks like a mystic DJ about to drop a transcendent beat.

One of the problems Doctor Strange does have is the fact that this is another origin story—something a lot of comic fans hate but is pretty necessary for the mainstream audiences.  How Strange went from being the cocky doc to the Sorcerer Supreme had to be told.  While there was a moment or two where the film felt like it was dragging, the overall adaptation of how he came to be was well handled and felt like it fit right in with the established universe—even when you factor in that they are now adding magic and mysticism to this cinematic universe.  The film also suffered in the love interest department as the character of Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams) feels like a plot device rather than a meaningful character (something that occurs a lot in the MCU, sadly).  Finally, the film’s antagonist; Kaecilius, is horribly underdeveloped (another reoccurring issue with the MCU films).  While Mikkelsen’s performance is fantastic and it’s cool to see a more obscure Strange villain (actually, very, VERY obscure) be the bad guy, we really don’t learn much of Kaecilius’ fall, his motivations, or really who he is.

                                                                                                             Marvel Studios
We also never learn where he gets that unique guyliner.

                                                                                 Marvel Studios
This looks like it'd be the cover to Mordo's epic
acoustic rock album.
Despite these setbacks (and other small ones I had like I felt the score was kinda uneven), I really enjoyed the film.  The performances were amazing—like you’d expect pure, uncut awesomeness from the likes of Cumberbatch, Ejiofor, McAdams, Mikkelsen and Swinton and you get that—but I was super enamored with the performance of Benedict Wong who played the sorcerer who oversaw the library of ancient magical books (a bit different from his comic book counterpart but a welcomed change).  Additionally, the film has some amazingly creative action sequences and some very amusing moments littered throughout the running time.  The action is a tad sparse as, at its core, this film is an origin tale and more about establishing the characters but when the action hits it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before.

                                                                                                             Marvel Studios
Never have I imagined that I'd see Benedict Cumberbatch as a badass
action star but here we are.

Finally, and this is probably the film’s strongest aspect, is the fact that this film has unbelievably astounding and gorgeous visuals and special effects that are incomprehensibly amazing.  Once Strange learns the ways of the sorcerers, your eyeballs are treated to a visual feast of color and splendor.  Reality warping images dance across the screen and have been, unjustly in my opinion, compared to Inception—the bending of city landscapes are far too different of an animal in these two films.  The special effects used to create these visuals and moments are truly breathtaking because just trying to wrap my mind around the design and the whole logistics and planning of making these moments a reality in the film were exhausting but the final product speaks volumes and it just left me floored with its artistry and how far computer graphics have come.

                                                                                                             Marvel Studios
I've never tried hallucinogens but, after watching this film, I think I wanna
give them a go.

While many will criticize the Marvel formula approach to Doctor Strange, I had a great time with it and applaud the fact that Marvel Studios once again took a risk and adapted a character that only is known to loyal comic book readers.  With its humor, next-level special effects and action, and a tremendous cast Doctor Strange ushers in another level of world building to the MCU and it just continues to make me a huge fan of this shared cinematic universe.

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