Dr. Stephen Strange's (Benedict Cumberbatch) life changes after a car accident robs him of the use of his hands. When traditional medicine fails him, he looks for healing, and hope, in a mysterious enclave. He quickly learns that the enclave is at the front line of a battle against unseen dark forces bent on destroying reality. Before long, Strange is forced to choose between his life of fortune and status or leave it all behind to defend the world as the most powerful sorcerer in existence.
It feels like every time I turn around lately there is a new Marvel or DC Movie exploring the amazing world of good guys vrs bad guys, incredible beings who can turn from an Ant to a person or have super human strength or speed, the ability to fly or manipulate time and space - it is just fascinating to watch as they discover their new found powers. It is fair to say Marvel does do it better and when you add in the two to five seconds cameo of Stan Lee the movies are just full of colour and the most amazing special effects. I also enjoy the moral of every story that good will always triumph over bad, if only the real world was like this.
I knew nothing about Doctor Strange besides the dude who played Sherlock Holmes was the main character and he wore a red cape, just like Superman (only knew from posters I saw). I was ill prepared for how much this movie was going to be enjoyable and as I had just done a Reiki course in the weekend I had great delight when they started discussing Chakra's and the belief that anything is possible as long as you believe in it, much to my husband's disdain. It pushed the boundaries of reality and the mirror world was visually so appealing.
I found it would slow down in places but then speed up and hold your attention all over again. The explanations were easily understood and the movie itself moved at a steady pace. Although, I was not entirely invested in Doctor Strange to begin with as his arrogance and god like belief got a little over the top I found I enjoyed him more as the movie went on and especially when the cape got involved. However, his American accent was a little grating at times.
Like all Marvel stories the public are completely oblivious to what is going on around them until a building falls down and a fight escalates right in front of them, then they go running and screaming hoping to survive. I did love the manipulation of time and space in this movie especially when buildings were being put back together or tipped upside down and dead people lived again. I found I was not bored during the fight scenes (like I am in most comic book movies) as so much was going on to keep me entertained.
I have already seen a poster where Doctor Strange is part of the Avengers and I have to say I am rather excited for the next movie especially if Deadpool is involved. The Marvel universe definitely has its superhero fan favourites and this movie fits in beautifully with the rest of them.
I think it is safe to say that this has been one of the most interesting movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far for me. Other movies dedicated to individual characters, such as "Iron Man", "Captain America", and "The Incredible Hulk", as well as the 2 Avengers Movies, have all contained characters I was already quite familiar with. "Doctor Strange" went against that by introducing a Marvel hero that I had heard of, but knew little to nothing about.
By far the most impressive thing about this movie was the special effects. A simply stunning use of fractals and psychedelic visuals were used, and what they created worked to draw the watcher into the film where they can truly appreciate the mystic nature of the world that "Doctor Strange" creates.
This film has taken much inspiration from the original comics by Stan Lee, but has re-shaped it to the point where magic is both a mystic art, and also the act of channelling energy from other realms beyond our own to essentially "Hack" the world we perceive around us. The re-imagining of certain characters has worked to the film's advantage, and so has the incredible acting performance by Benedict Cumberbatch, who was cast to play the role of Doctor Stephen Strange.
The story itself is quite emotional, and begins with Doctor Strange as a renowned neurosurgeon who is involved in a severe car accident, damaging his hands and leaving his life in pieces, and ends with him having become a master sorcerer and a defender of this world from the many other realms existing beyond ours. To see this transformation take place was an amazing experience, and one that struck me emotionally.
The film did not drag on, and in fact made me lose track of time, which is very suitable considering certain aspects of the film relating to the manipulation of time. The film's many hidden references to other Marvel films did much to indicate that this film is indeed a part of the MCU and that Doctor Strange will have further interactions with the other Avengers characters.
Overall, I highly enjoyed this film, and would highly recommend it. I would also recommend seeing it in 3D, unless you have a bad reaction to reality-warping special effects. This is one film you will NOT want to miss.
As soon as I saw the trailer I was keen to see this, it looked just like the trippy kind of movie that I would be into but I never managed to get to the cinema in order to see it, so when I saw that this was in my review box of goodies I was very happy. Doctor Strange would have to be a character that I knew nothing about prior to the movie but I like Cumberbatch and the trailer had me interested enough, and the great thing about this line of films is that we get to learn their back stories while getting a generally good film out of the lesson.
Doctor Stephen Strange is definitely a character we're not meant to like, he's pompous, arrogant, full of himself and doesn't really pay attention to those around him if it doesn't better him, even at the end of the film he's not a likeable character but he doesn't need to be and even with that, I'm looking forward to seeing him again. I loved the multiverse, though I'm not sure that's quite the right word as it managed to impress me, be stunning and also rather spooky/creepy at moments, but I came away wishing to see more of some of its aspects, though I am glad it wasn't the original seven minute long scene that had been planned (sadly this DVD has no special features, so no chance seeing it without going online).
The plot did seem rather week in parts, the film centred more on its action and magical moments than a cohesive plot and so there were times when it felt like there wasn't really anything happening beyond, here... let us wow you... There wasn't a big cast of actors, which suited the film well, because with all the sorcerer side of things and everything the film is trying to show us, any more characters would have just been too much crammed into it. I did feel like more could have been put into a plot, there would have been a way to combine it in more, so hopefully the next film (I'm assuming there will be given the end on the credits) will do a bit more plot wise.
As usual, stick around for two end credit scenes, one shortly into the credits, which features Thor, and then one at the very end of the credits, they create some good anticipation for the future films. I didn't enjoy this as much as I hoped but I did enjoy it and I'm looking forward to what comes next with Dr Strange.
Doctor Strange is a tricky choice of character for a stand-alone movie, but Marvel have once again pretty much nailed it.
The problems with Strange as a movie character are twofold: firstly he operates at a massive scale. Where DC tends to group its heroes into "families" (Batman's and Superman's supporting cast of allies are good examples), Marvel groups them into tiers depending on the scale of their focus. Daredevil, Spiderman, and Luke Cage are street-tier - dealing with crime on a villain-by-villain basis and protecting individual cities, The X-Men and The Avengers are world-tier - dealing with more or less army-size organisations that threaten whole countries and sometimes the planet. Strange on the other hand, is a cosmic-tier hero. This means he deals with existential threats to the entire universe from entities that reside outside ordinary time and space. This scale of threat is kind of hard to get your mind around, and requires a huge amount of complex effects (which run the risk of backfiring if they don't look right) to realise on screen.
The second issue with Strange is that he's a straight-up wizard. Rather than a clearly defined set of abilities like a traditional superhero, Doctor Strange can perform a huge range of magical rites from a wide range of real-world and totally-invented traditions. This means that historically he's tended to work better as a supporting character in other people's stories (where he can swoop in and help them out with magic problems) than he has as a lead character in his own right.
The movie's solution to both of these problems is very simple, and works beautifully (though it's also sort of its greatest weakness). Rather than worry about the minutiae of precisely how magic works, the film opts instead to be a more or less straight-out action movie. All we end up knowing about magic is that Strange isn't very good at it yet, and needs to get better quick if he's going to survive.
The magic and alternate-dimension CG is amazing, and the characters (in traditional Marvel Cinematic fashion) are much better-defined and more interesting than they strictly need to be. This is where the breakneck pace becomes a slight weakness in my opinion. One of the draws of the comics was the incredible proto-psychedelic art Steve Ditko came up with to depict all the weird and beautiful alternate dimensions Strange visits on his travels. This meshed with the trippy mindset of the mid-60s when they were published and led in a large part to the character's continuing popularity. These magical worlds are beautifully realised here, and it'd have been nice just to hang out with the characters in hem for a bit longer.
That said, this is another excellent addition to the MCU canon.
I'm a visual person, so any movie with great special effects is going to be high on my list... but if I do say so myself, I'm pretty good at spotting bodged-up effects. For a movie of this calibre, I expect nothing less than perfection, though I will give ground for minor issues in a scene here and there. I regret to say... I spotted two tiny glitches in this movie - places where the effects didn't line up quite right. Still... considering they were on the trailing edges of some seriously brain-bending scenes, it's easy enough to overlook them and give 'benefit of the doubt' as to whether they were deliberate parts of the scene, or just minor glitches overlooked in post-production.
Despite having loved Cumberbatch in previous roles, I was dubious about his suitability to perform Dr Strange - Strange is a strong but somewhat detached persona - very fitting when you consider his mind has to cope with dimensions and realities that would turn the mind of the average Joe into FroYo. Cumberbatch can be a little stilted and mechanical in his acting methodology, but in this case I think he pulled it off fairly well. I don't think he was perfectly suited in terms of acting style - yet I struggle to think of any that would have done better - but when it comes to the LOOK of Dr Strange, the only actor I can imagine looking as well-suited would have been Robert Downey Jr, and since this is a Marvel movie, we can't very well have Iron Man's twin brother chucking spells around... and Downey's improv-fuelled style would not have sit well with this character.
I take great exception to the portrayal of The Ancient One by Tilda Swinton though. Even allowing for her often-androgynous acting style - where the gender of the character seems to be "both" such as the Angel Gabriel in the Keanu Reeves version of "Constantine" - I felt she was a poor choice for this role. Ken Watanabe would have been a much better selection, as his "cameo" in Batman: Dark Knight as the decoy "Ra's al Ghul" showed, IMHO. Still, it could have been much worse I suppose - they could have cast Jackie Chan... although he may have made a quite passable "Wong" in all fairness, since instead of being one of the Master Warriors, he seemed to be more of a comedy-relief character.
The Plot is... I have to admit, a little weak in places... with "special effects" taking priority over "story telling and character development" too much for my liking. The movie is an utter visual feast, a smorgasbord of trippy surrealism that had me thinking, more than once, if my popcorn was laced with something mushroom-related. Without giving too much away, I really enjoyed the first major fight scene that formed the opening gambit for the film - the very idea of using fractally-affected reality as a fighting weapon was... yes, this is justified... inspired! However, seeing it repeated later in the film on a grander scale... not such a smart move because it wasn't something that I, as an audience member, could easily wrap my head around and accept as plausible in any context. As someone who prides himself on being able to think multidimensionally with some ease, that's saying something. I mean, getting to grips with the layered realities and distortions of Inception was childs-play by comparison.
With this being another chapter in the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe, you have to accept that it is not, nor will it even attempt to be, a self-contained story. It's a piece in the larger "Infinity Wars" story-arc that has been building since "Captain America" really, when we encountered the first of the Infinity Stones - The Tesseract, also known as "The Space Stone". Since then we have met the Power Stone (Guardians of the Galaxy), the Mind Stone (Loki's Sceptre) and the Reality Stone (The Aether from Thor: Dark World") - and in this movie we see the fifth Infinity Stone - the Time Stone aka The Eye of Agamotto. So... one more to come - probably in Guardians of the Galaxy 2 - and then we should expect all fnord to break lose as Thanos strolls in with the Infinity Gauntlet to snatch them up and start playing hob with the multiverse.
Overall, while far from the most engaging of the Marvel movies to date, this is an important one in the story arc... far more relevant than the the first two Iron Man movies or the two most recent Captain America films. I think that, ignoring any stand-alone character-development films coming (cough-black panther-cough-spiderman-cough) the next few are going to be action-mad brain-busters! I strongly suspect that this movie will, upon multiple-reviewings, become far more complex and revealing than the first screening gave me... so I score it well for that, and the utterly stunning special effects on the whole. Overload - yes, underwhelming - nope!
Doctor Strange is probably one of the lesser known superheroes to those that don't follow the comic scene. The Hulk, Iron Man, and Spider Man, are all big names, that everybody knows, so when 'Avengers' films are close to the release date, you see it advertised everywhere, and everyone is talking about it. Interestingly, this was not the case for Doctor Strange. Maybe I'm just comparing it to established franchises that I shouldn't be (Captain America, X-Men), but I saw no advertisements on general television, there were no constant barrage of YouTube ads, and the usual website weren't going on about it. It seemed to just come out of nowhere, with very little introduction.
But let's get past the marketing and look at the actual content. Doctor Strange is a film that follows the main character Dr. Stephen Strange, and is an origin story that starts out similarly to Iron Man. Benedict Cumberbatch plays the role of a highly successful and arrogant neurosurgeon, that you immediately dislike. Benedict Cumberbatch has the disadvantage of having the combination of having a very unique facial structure, and being a very popular actor; it made it very difficult for me to properly separate him from previous roles (Sherlock, for example). He does however have a look that very much emulates that of the comic books, and he does a great job at providing a reasonably convincing accent and mannerisms for the role.
This movie however is nowhere near as grounded as Iron Man. It is drenched in magic and spells, spirits, relics, chi, life forces, energy, and anything that could possibly make a scientist cringe. The way that these topics and back history are explained to the audience doesn't come across as forced, and flows quite naturally as the plot progresses. The initial introduction however provides quite the trip. In what is quite an extensive scene, the audience is bombarded with a plethora of looping imagery across a spectrum of colours, creating a both wonderful yet disturbing conflict as you try to make sense of what could possibly be being portrayed (quite the thrill to watch in 3D IMAX). The best way to describe the scene would be 'The Matrix' + hallucinogenics.
There is no real learning and development time for the protagonist, and instead we are thrown neck-deep into an ocean of some of the most original action sequences that I have seen in a while, due to the new 'unscientific" abilities introduced. Watching the world bend, twist and contort into horror show obstacle courses is as exciting to watch as it is confusing. The elaborate nature of the choreography and CGI make it frustrating in that you can't truly appreciate it all at once. You focus on one aspect, you miss out on the others. While the action sequences are exciting, and always seem to reveal new things, the constant barrage of scene after scene makes it a bit tiresome after a while, as there is no real time to allow you to digest what you have already seen.
The antagonist, played by Mads Mikkelsen (otherwise known as Hannibal, from the TV series), is unfortunately another typical Marvel villain. While his opening scene lifted my expectations, he soon fell into the predictable patterns, with the same old backstory, never really seems that much of a threat. The performance was so unconvincing, that I can't even remember the name of the character he portrayed, despite it being uttered during nearly every second conversation.
One of the interesting things about the film is how few main cast there actually are. Beyond Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, and Mads Mikkelsen, the rest of the cast fall into either minor unnecessary roles (Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor) or comic relief (Benedict Wong). Beyond that, it is a world of unknown extras and collateral damage.
It built up well throughout the film, and the while still formulaic and anticlimactic, I did appreciate the comedic element to the "solution" at the end. I definitely enjoyed the film; it had the trademarked Marvel humour deposited every once in a while to keep the mood lively, but I still can't help but feel that none of the Marvel heroes have had a real fight yet, and that it is spending so much time building up to the Infinity War movies that it isn't really too concerned about making each film the best that it can be. It's just releasing a film to introduce characters and relationships for something in the future.
Doctor Strange is a hard-hitter in the MCU, and is most likely going to be an integral part of what is to come in the future. Formulaic, but some very original fight scenes, and a brilliant "reverse-Michael Bay" action sequence towards the end, are all things to look out for. Definitely worth a couple of watches.
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