Monday, November 7, 2016

Doctor Strange (2016)

Doctor Strange lives up to the Marvel brand! It is another easy-to-watch superhero origin movie with psychedelic visuals and good acting. Although I dislike the 3D format in general, Doctor Strange needs to be seen in 3D and preferably IMAX!

First, I gotta say that I'm not an expert in Doctor Strange comics. My only exposure to the character goes back to the direct-to-DVD feature that was released back in 2007. But as a casual fan, I enjoyed both the 2007 animated feature, and the 2016 live action movie! But now let's just focus on the latter: Benedict Cumberbatch is a true leading-man, and as expected, he did a fantastic job. His performance helped a lot with my immersion in the movie and suspension of my disbelief - Cumberbatch's commitment to the role should be commended! The rest of the cast were great as well. Tilda Swinton's casting as the Ancient One became a little controversial, but apparently that was a necessary decision in order to secure screening rights in China. Had the studio gone with the more accurate version and portrayed the character as a Tibetan monk, they would have lost a lot of money from the Chinese box office. As for the non-human cast, the Cloak of Levitation deserves a shout-out! The cloak reminded me a lot of the magic carpet from Aladdin (1992)!

The weakest point in most of the Marvel movies in the villain. Mads Mikkelsen plays the antagonist - whose name I refuse to even look up! He is not much different from the villains in Thor: The Dark World (2013) or the Guardians of the Galaxy (2014). He has made a deal with the devil, and our hero needs to save the world from darkness. The final confrontation between the hero and the villain deserves credit though, as it went against the exceptions; Doctor Strange's strategy was simply original.

As for the plot of the movie, many people have compared it to Iron Man (2008). Of course both titular characters are successful, rich, and arrogant New Yorkers. But that's were the similarities end! I found Steven Strange to be a self-made man who was doing good deeds for the humanity - unlike Tony Stark who inherited everything from his father and was selling weapons! What I'm trying to say is that Dr. Strange's arrogance felt somewhat "earned"... The movie doesn't waste much time to show us his fall though. After the crash scene (that is also shown in the trailers), the rest of the movie focuses on Dr. Strange's journey to self-discovery and growth.

The pacing of the movie is pretty good as you do not feel the passage of time. However, it makes you feel that Dr. Strange's abilities grew overnight! The gold standard for superhero origin movies that show how the character becomes a capable superhero is Batman Begins (2005). Doctor Strange (2016) is of course far from that gold standard.

I mentioned the visuals earlier. The computer animations that show different realms (magic, mirror, dark dimension, etc) are superb! This alone makes the movie worth the price of admission to an IMAX 3D showing! 

To sum up, Doctor Strange is a fast-paced movie, with psychedelic visuals, likeable characters, and a relatively smart plot. Overall, I'd give it 8.5/10.

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