Saturday, November 12, 2016

Doctor Strange (2016) (Movie Review – First Impressions)

      The 2016 movie “Doctor Strange” is the 14 comic book adaption in Marvels hugely successful cinematic universe, and at this point I’m convinced that someone in that studio made a deal with the devil to produce nothing but quality films, because 14 films in and they still surpass viewer expectations. “Doctor Strange” is yet another solid entry in the series, and can appeal to both comic fans and non-fans alike. The beauty of the MCU is that while every film is based on a comic, and sharing the same universe, each film can still stand on their own, and represent their own subgenera. This film brings the fantasy and sorcery genera to the MCU, and it’s pulled off well with a suitably artistic vision. I can’t say it’s one of the absolute best, but it is another great one, and a terrific introduction to anyone not familiar with the character.

       For those of you who don’t know, Doctor Strange began as a surgeon who strived to perfect is craft and always be there for those in need. One night he gets into a freak car accident that damages his hands, and spoiling his life ambition. His quest to find a new direction in life and inner peace leads to a covenant of spell-casters and wizards who teach him the values of mental discipline, while training him how to help people through sorcery and portal magic. This might just be the oddest origin story I’ve ever seen, but it has a flowing narrative and the journey of the hero holds our interest very well. Also for a bizarre movie revolving around alternate realities, portal jumping and wizards, it still has a lot of humanity, and mature morals revolving around life in general. That’s not to say it’s one of the most insightful movies ever made, it’s still just a fun fantasy adventure, but with just enough substance to balance out the spectacles. Of course it’s the casting of our hero that can either make or break a film, and I’m happy to say that Benedict Cumberbatch absolutely delivered in the role of Dr. Strange. He supplied our hero with wit, charisma and he just looked awesome in the characters iconic wizard costume. Tilda Swinton is also very respectful in the role of the ancient one, even though her ethnicity is different from the character of the comics.

     Visually the film is a work of art, and absolutely worth seeing in 3D. Usually I hate when there’s an over dose of CGI, but this time it really works and dose things that we haven’t really seen before. Granted we’ve had movies like “The Matrix” and “Inception” which both have similar artistic styles, but “Doctor Strange” is not a cheap copy of their work, and has its own identity. Also, the film has a very clever script that dose something new with the visuals each time they come on screen, so it never gets boring or exhausting. The comedy once again is also very good, and comes in at just the right time. Another highlight is that, with the exception of the end credit scene, this film is very self contained and requires no viewing of the previous films of the MCU. Now there’s also a lot of exposition, but thankfully the film has just enough humanity and fun to balance out.

       My only criticisms are minor gripes, most especially the villains. The one flaw in most Marvel movies is that the villains are completely forgettable, and that’s the same issue here. There’s also a side character called Baron Mordo, who starts off as a close ally to our hero, but at the end the movie implies that he’s going to be a villain, and that transition felt very rushed to me. My biggest problem is a fatigue of super hero origin stories, this film told our hero’s origin better than many of the previous Marvel movies, but I just want to explore more of the films universe which can never be done to full potential in these origin stories. Never the less, I was very pleased with “Doctor Strange”, it lived up expectations and gave me more. It’s one of the most gorgeous looking films I’ve seen in years, it held my attention from beginning to end, and our hero is one that I’d love see in further films.

                                                I give “Doctor Strange” 4 stars out of 5.         


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