Thoughts On New Marvel’s Dr. Strange Movie (Review – Spoiler Free)

Marvel Studios latest film, Dr. Strange, dropped onto the scene last week to generally positive praise. The titular character, Steven Strange, is played by the increasingly prolific Benedict Cumberbatch and joining him onscreen is a sort of who’s who of B+ list actors, Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, and Mads Mikkelsen. I finally got a chance to check out the flick, and I wanted to share my observations and criticisms.

The movie quite notably falls headlong into some of the more predictable tropes associated with a fantasy and adventure genres, but it seems to embrace the fact. The very typical, “find yourself and abandon your ego” theme runs deep throughout, and seems to be the central concept of the movie. Despite this fact, the characters seem unconcerned with how familiar the whole thing feels and since they don’t dwell on it too much, it becomes easy to not get caught up in it and just enjoy the ride.

There were definitely times that the characters or actors reactions did not seem proportionate to the events taking place around them. One scene in particular where love interest Christine Palmer, played by McAdams, first learns of Strange’s new found magical powers, and, though surprised, she doesn’t portray the absolute confusion and wonder that would probably be felt by someone experiencing such a dramatic revelation. Even though this is kind of out of sync with any kind of realism, the movie seems to almost make fun of the the absurdity of the situation and, because of this, it doesn’t really make the viewer uneasy.

doctor-strange-movie-cumberbatch

The most impressive aspect of the experience were the mind bending, Escher like visual effects. It is made clear early on that there exists an alternate mutable version of the real world known as the Mirror Dimension. While in said realm the characters can bend, shape, duplicate, and manipulate their environment and the height of the movie has Dr. Strange and his comrades running though a distorted New York city, bouncing from building to building. As someone who rarely feels any sort of motion sickness, I felt my stomach churn more than a few times in these scenes and I can only imagine how disorienting it would be had I caught the 3D showing. If there is an award to be won for Dr. Strange it should most certainly go to the CGI magicians that made these scenes feel so jarringly real.

Marvel's DOCTOR STRANGE..L to R: Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch)..Photo Credit: Film Frame ..©2016 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

As an odd juxtaposition, the plot is almost entirely devoid of twists. It isn’t that you can see a plot device coming from far away, but rather, the strict linearity of it all that makes this stand out. It’s not that this is really a bad thing, but if you’re watching the show you are making predictions about how things will turn out, you’re already overthinking it.

Overall, the actors definitely carry the whole extravaganza on their shoulders and had a single one of them been swapped for a different person, it feels as thought the whole thing would come crumbling down from any of the slightly fragile aspects of it’s foundation. Aside from Cumberbatch as Strange, Swinton delivers very believable performance as “The Ancient One” and she really rides the line between the wise master and a disarming, kind, modern individual.

Bottom Line: Dr. Strange is great fun and deserves a view, especially in theaters. The picture breaks all of the conventional rules that make a movie great and I’m not really sure why but it’s just plainly enjoyable in every way. The cast, costuming, visual effects, and plot meld together into something that just seems like it needed to happen and afterward it as akin getting off a roller coaster and I just wanted to get back in line for another ride. I’m excited that Marvel Studios is taking chances on lesser known characters like Strange and the much beloved Guarians of the Galaxy, and hopefully the adoration from fans will compel them to keep doing so.

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Joshua Hogg73 Posts

Depending on who you ask, Josh's obsession with video games may or may not be entirely healthy. Frequently bankrupting himself to get the next fix, he indiscriminately jumps from game to game, perhaps searching for that perfect title that will leave him eternally satisfied.

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