Friday, November 4, 2016

Doctor Strange – Movie Review: Supremely Good

I really thought this was going to be one I wouldn’t enjoy.

Doctor Strange starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton, Mads Mikkelsen, Rachel McAdams, and directed by Scott Derrickson. The film is a true origin story for Doctor Strange, and while there have been many origin stories for superheroes over the past ten years this one is still unique. It introduces magic, different dimensions, and how they all relate to one another. The movie keeps the origin of Steven Strange fresh. Going into the film I wasn’t sure what to expect. I hadn’t been wowed by the trailers and thought this might be the first miss for a Marvel film since Thor 2. Walking out, Doctor Strange had me wanting to go read comics about the sorcerer supreme and wanting to turn back around and watch the film again.

At its core Doctor Strange is a character piece. We go on a journey of self-discovery with Steven Strange where he has to grow as a person. He starts off as a complete egotistical jerk who only cares about his own worth and standing in the world.  The injury he has to his hands in a car accident forces him to lose his job as a surgeon. He searches and tries everything in his power to gain his standing back, which leads him to search out the Ancient One. Instead of finding an answer on how to heal his hands, his mind is opened to a completely different reality. While this journey is fantastical at the center is still a story about a man who must gain more humanity. It’s a story that has been told many times and in many different ways, but still can captivating and relatable if told well.

A main reason Doctor Strange is able to pull off its character piece is because of the actors involved. Benedict Cumberbatch is absolutely fantastic as the good doctor. He plays the jerk at the start of the movie perfectly and his transformation is subtle and believable. From the story and his portrayal, I bought into his character transformation. There are great supporting cast all around him to help tell his story. Rachel McAdams does a good job as the love interest and something which keeps Strange tied to his old life. She could have been more developed overall as a character, but McAdams did a good job with what she was asked to do. Chiwetel Ejiofor is fantastic in everything he does and he doesn’t disappoint here. He has one or two show stealing scenes with Cumberbatch which highlight the movie. Tilda Swinton nearly steals the movie as the Ancient One. The serenity and subtle profoundness she brought to the role was extremely well done. I’m not getting into her casting other than to say she was great and I’m glad she was in the film. All of the actors did a good job and is one reason the story works so well when it is set with a very weird backdrop.

The overall strangeness of the different dimensions and mysticisms will keep some from enjoying the film. I could completely understand someone walking out of Doctor Strange and not enjoying the movie because they didn’t understand what was going on in regards to the magic. The action is also very trippy and at times hard to follow, but I still found it extremely enjoyable to watch. I can see some who wouldn’t and I couldn’t argue if this turned them off to the film. I ate everything up with the magic and traveling to different dimensions and how they used time and time travel. I thought it all was well done and is one reason I could see myself going back to the theatre and watching the movie again.

The only slight downfall for the film is something found in most marvel movies, the villain. Mads Mikkelsen does a good job in the role, he just isn’t given much to work with. I think there is actually a very interesting villain and character somewhere on the cutting room floor for Doctor Strange. Kaecilius seems to have an interesting background which could make him relatable. There seems to be a tragic backstory which could have been dived into to give the character more depth, but either it was never part of the plan or was cut because of time. Which the pace of the movie and how quickly it moves is another strong aspect of the film. The lack of depth in Mads character is also made up for by a fantastic climactic scene which makes the journey of the film payoff extremely well.

I went into Doctor Strange not knowing what to expect. I didn’t know if this was going to be a movie I was going to enjoy. I thought it could have been a Marvel film just below par of the rest. One which was fun to watch once, but not something I had to rush out and buy when it became available to own. After seeing Doctor Strange, this changed. This film is a must see for any super-hero fan and worth seeing for those who just simply like science fiction and fantasy. I’m not sure it will relate to a mass general audience because of the mysticism, but tons of people love Harry Potter, so maybe not. I’ll be trying to talk my son into seeing it so I can watch it again.

What did you think of Doctor Strange if you have seen it? What were or are your expectations for the film? Comment and let me know. 

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