Saturday, November 5, 2016

Doctor Strange - Movie Review

Doctor Strange, directed by Scott Derrickson (Sinister), introduces the Sorcerer Supreme and his magical ways into the Marvel Cinematic Universe and puts him up against a challenge that, if not stopped, could send the entire world into a dark and terrible existence. The film features acting performances from Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Mads Mikkelson, and Tilda Swinton.

The Review:
As magically entertaining as Marvel's movies have been up to this point, they have barely scratched the surface when it comes to their characters using real magic. Doctor Strange takes about 30 seconds to put an end to that forever and the whole movie is like a big welcome mat for the audience to jump in and explore a side of Marvel's superheroes we are not all that familiar with. Knowing this, some people I have talked to have expressed hesitation and trepidation about stepping into this new and unknown world because it might not make a whole lot of sense, especially when the trailer shows you buildings folding in on each other and some other really crazy stuff going on.

To help ease these fears or any doubts movie goers might have, director Scott Derrickson sticks with the tried and true Marvel recipe for success which includes lots of action to keep things moving, strong actors leading the cast, a villain that mirrors the hero so it's easy to see exactly who the bad guy is, and that classic sense of fun, wonder, and excitement that they seem to have perfected and bottled up just for themselves. That last bit is the real key to success for this film as a bit of humor is expertly injected every time things seem to be getting a little too out there or in moments where the conversations get a bit bogged down by talk of mystical beings or ancient books. Want to balance out a discussion about the Eye of Agamotto with a little levity? Throw in a joke or two that references pop culture and you've hit the jackpot.

When it was first announced the Benedict Cumberbatch would be taking on the role of Doctor Strange, fans around the world were pleased with little exception. Now, having seen the movie, I would have to say that this was one of the absolute best and smartest bits of casting in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. Seriously, this guy is absolutely perfect for the role and is a prime candidate to take on the type of franchise lead that we have seen Robert Downey Jr embody since he first uttered the words "I am Iron Man". Of course, Marvel didn't  stop there, they decided to throw in some heavyweight, Oscar caliber talent because...well, because they can. Tilda Swinton and Chiwetel Ejiofor are pretty impressive as they always are and Mads Mikkelson steps up and gives us a villain worth rooting against without any unnecessary grandstanding or over the top theatrics.

Let's talk about the special effects for a moment.

"#NailedIt" - ILM

The digital effects for this film are beautifully and flawlessly rendered and, even with all the magical craziness going on, it all somehow makes sense and your head doesn't explode from watching it all (sometimes literally) unfold on screen. You have to just see it for yourself to understand, but it's just all so good and enhances the story perfectly, I was very happy with the end result. Things definitely get mystical and inter-dimensional although it all still feels very Marvel and very familiar thanks to what we have seen in previous films like Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man.

The Verdict:
Doctor Strange tells a great story, has an outstanding cast, and is filled with some of the best visual effects you have ever seen. While Captain America: Civil War ushered in Marvel's Phase three slate of films by raising the stakes to all new heights, this film goes a long way towards showing us even more of what we can expect moving forward.

I did not see the movie in 3D although I can tell you that Scott Derrickson did use 3D cameras to film the movie and put a lot of effort into utilizing the added feature in ways that will enhance the story telling. Once I do see it in this format, I will update my review.

I have not seen the movie in an IMAX theater and I doubt if I ever will. IMAX cameras were not used for any portion of this film and a post conversion process was utilized to transfer it to the IMAX format. That being said, you still don't get the premium, large format viewing experience you would get if IMAX cameras had been used (big square screen versus not so big rectangle), so it's really not worth the upgrade, especially at the fake IMAX theaters in the multiplex theaters.

Finally, yes there is a Stan Lee cameo. Yes, there is a mid credits scene and yes, there is a post credits scene so do not leave the theater until they turn the lights on.

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