Doctor Strange – 4.5/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

doctor-strangeDoctor Strange – 4.5/5 –  Marvel is a juggernaut when it comes to cinema these days.  Since the inception of Iron Man; they have made a plethora of good to amazing pieces of work.  No matter if you’re a diehard comic book fan or just a general movie goer; they have found that balance to appeal to the masses and stay true the core of their stories.  As Marvel continues to build out the Universe (known as the MCU); they keep adding more creative spins to some odd characters.  Enter Doctor Strange; a powerful comic book character with the infusion of magic.  With this new challenge; Doctor Strange manages to be one of the best triumphs when it comes to the general ‘origin tale’.  With a mixture of great acting, singular storytelling and outstanding visuals, this film is one hell of a ride.

Premise: A former neurosurgeon embarks a quest of healing.  His path leads him down something of an otherworldly concept, where he must learn the truth of himself before the world is completely destroyed

In the lead role of Doctor Stephen Strange is actor Benedict Cumberbatch.  He does an amazing job in creating a character that evolves their persona over time.  A layering of sorts, Cumberbatch brings a bravado of a unique touch.  He brings an authentic, emotional and fragile appeal to Stephen Strange.  He is a man enraptured by his surgical abilities in the medical field; but also hides within his deep insecurities.  Faced with life changing events; it shatters his core arrogant take on the world and forces him on a path of personal enlightenment.  Here, you witness an actor at their finest; breaking the mold with humanistic qualities in a fictional tale.  This creates a realistic vision of who Strange is as a man; as a person.  This creates a strong relatable bond; one that shows how significant his path is on a personal scale.  This is riveting, charismatic and bold for a film that involves a lot of other creative elements.  With the rest of the cast, you have some big names in iconic comic book roles:

Chiwetel Ejiofor as Mordo

Rachel McAdams as Christine Palmer

Benedict Wong as Wong

Mads Mikkelsen as Kaecilius

Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One

No matter if it’s the cast of support of Doctor Strange’s trip through his magical training (Mordo, Wong and The Ancient One), the pseudo love interest (Christine Palmer) or the villain (Kaecilius); they have strong approaches to their supporting roles.  In following their lead actor; they all do a fantastic job in engrossing themselves with purposeful intent.  Beyond the obvious that could have been cliché; they bring out the realistic mantra with a personal touch.  Each of these supporting characters (including the villain) has a stark code of what they see as right and wrong.  There isn’t anything that stays standard to the ‘good vs. evil’; it is a matter of conviction.  This helps creates the depth in their character; providing smart, witty and intense interactions between all them on screen.  Beyond the main and strong supporting cast; the rest flesh out what you would find in the general concept of a comic book film.  Even so; it never deters from the experience.

The direction goes about the traditional path of what is called an ‘Origin Tale’.  This is the focal point of introducing a comic book character to the big screen.  This allows for a singular approach to the unbelievable; allowing for something tangible for the audience that might not be familiar with the specifics of the comic book lore, character, story or designs that are unfolding.  Even for this singular perspective; a film that has an origin for its main character can still be levied with strength from all the other aspects of filming.  It always boils down to the vision of the director.  What Scott Derrickson does is incorporate his talents of horror techniques from his previous works and infuses it with the ‘minding-bending’ reality aspect of magic, dimensions and comic book lore.  Here, he brings his personal touch to something that is formulaic.  He weaves the weird tones with consistency; which helps elude to the crazy angles of the magical aspects.  He finds a way to bring emotion, drama and realistic perspectives to the story and characters.  In doing this, he provides a creative perspective that shows originality in who the character (Stephen Strange) is and where he ends up.  The path of growth, conviction and retrospective is one that is dire to many people; and you see it in the main character.  Starting out as a very dynamic neurosurgeon; a freak car accident leaves Stephen Strange’s world in shambles.  From this starting point of introduction and pivotal plot points; we watch as he goes on a ‘personal quest’; a journey to find a way to fix his hands.  This leads him to The Ancient One and the world beyond the tangible.  From here, the film moves into a bulk of the story; which involves the development of the main and support characters within the mystic arts, while paralleling (subtly) the oncoming threat from the villainous plan put forth by Kaecilius.  As this goes on, you are engrossed with a molding of both otherworldly visuals, unique action elements with realistic exposition.  This allows for these perspectives to become one (instead of battling for purpose of screen time).  The film moves at a very quick pace; which brings to point of what the time frame of the film is.  Being part of the MCU, this is something that sticks in the back of your mind.  Even so; it never deters from the experience.  Once we get to the final act; the film lavishes in its spectacular visuals; imbuing the purpose of where Stephen Strange becomes his true self.  The climax breaks from the traditional ‘good vs. evil’ scenario; bringing about an action and thematic twist that will shines the light on the original and creative touch of the director.  As the film hits its epilogue, it is fitting conclusion of what can only be describe as amazing ride.

The visuals are some of the most spectacular use of CGI I have ever seen.  The molding of magical and mystical elements into the realistic world is something of a challenge; but the creative team of this film do a great job in seamless transition between the computerized designs and real life locations.  They layer the aspect of the unworldly within our common locales; giving a spin on the unimaginable being real.  From the luscious bending and breaking of the 3D dimension aspects, to the hand to hand combat with the fusion of magical arts; it is something that will take your breath away.  On top of the creative use of CGI; the exotic locales help imbue strong worth to the film.  From the landscapes of Nepal to the temples and the indoor libraries; you have a focal point of grounded intent.  The score is another experience to itself.  Adding to the trippy sense of the visuals; the music helps bend and weave through a journey aspect.  The resounding trail of deeply orchestra sounds to the soft touch of bass; it helps provide an additional layer of intensity to the film.

Doctor Strange is a film that tackles the formula of the ‘Origin Tale’; and spins it in another direction.  From the greatness of the director to the amazing acting talent; this film is a journey of unexpected results.  If you’re a fan of Marvel, comic books or enjoy seeing something different; this is one for you.  This is worth the full price of admission; and one hell of a trippy ride.

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