Last week I was given the opportunity to enjoy an advanced screening of Marvel’s Doctor Strange which opens to the general public nationwide on 4 November (2016). I will be honest that I am not as familiar with this character as I am with Spider-Man, the Avengers, the Hulk and many others who are more main stream, so I apologize in advance to the die-hard fans – please share more with me, because after seeing this film he is my new favorite Marvel Superhero. This could be due my crush on Benedict Cumberbatch (who doesn’t have a crush on this man, seriously?!) or the fact that that I could relate to so much that he was going through on various levels. I really enjoyed the film and would give it a solid 4 out of 5 stars.
Story Line over view:
Doctor Stephen Strange is a top neurosurgeon and has the ego to match. He is good but very arrogant, spends money as quick as he earns it,and is on top of the world. While driving to an event one night he is distracted by a phone call and sustains a horrific accident. Both hands are damaged beyond repair but he tries everything he can to fix them so he can operate again. During a physical therapy session his exhausted therapist tells him about a previous patient who was paralyzed from the neck down that had stopped coming to therapy. A few years later the therapist saw that patient walking sown the street which had him baffled. Dr. Strange demands to see the man’s chart and seeks him out. The man says he gave up everything and went to Nepal in search of Kamar-Taj which is high in the mountains in Kathmandu. The story takes off from there where Strange has to battle his way into Kamar-Taj and his ego in order to master the secrets of a hidden world of mysticism and alternate dimensions to ensure his future and that of the world. He also has to rebuild himself from the ground up and commits to his new fate.
What I loved:
- The mysticism that surrounds the story is really amazing. The mixing of the worlds of science and belief is one I think we can all struggle with and relate to I love how they are brought together in this movie. Doctor Strange struggles with this on several fronts, the biggest being the Hippocratic Oath that he holds dear (at least for now) “to do no harm” thus trying not to kill anyone. He fights, no question, but he also problem solves in ways I don’t remember seeing from the other superheros. This was surprising and welcome.
- I LOVED the humor in this film. I found so many things funny and was giggling through several scenes. Doctor Strange can be very serious but he has a very silly side and I found I was laughing through more of movie than most of the others I have seen (outside of Dead Pool – that movie was hilarious!).
- I thought the story line was well written and engaging while watching this character build from the ground up. The action sequences were intense and fun. I was on the edge of my seat and the choreography of the fighting scenes was great too. I loved how the rooms would spin or other worlds would open up and they could shift between places.
- The cinematography is beautiful and the CGI amazing. I saw the inspiration from “The Matrix” in various parts of the film and the sequence inspired by “Fantasia” and the 1960s (when Doctor Strange was originally introduced to the world) was really psychedelic. Worlds blending and rotating and coming apart was a trip. Going between Astral Planes, Mirror Dimensions and Dark Dimensions added complex layers to what you were seeing. There is so much.
- The casting and the acting were both top notch. Sometimes I feel like these movies can be over acted and this one felt like each actor really embodied their character. Benedict Cumberbatch was always the first choice to play Strange and he was wonderful. After watching the film I can not imagine another actor playing this role. During an interview Cumberbatch mentioned, “Stephen Strange suffers so much during the film, not just physically but psychologically. You can put yourself in his place. And that’s the key to being able to empathize with the character. But ultimately his realization that he has a mission beyond his own self is the true turning point for people to lean in and sympathize with him and to understand that this moment, and what becomes of it, is what he’s journeyed through all that suffering for. What’s bold about his origin story is that you get someone built up from ground zero, and this is truly who he was before and after.” Cumberbatch nailed this big time and I can’t wait to see upcoming films. Tilda Swinton was incredible as the Ancient One. She is so transformative in every role she plays and she does not disappoint here. She is tough but fair and still has this amazing softness about her. A true sense of justice but empathetic. “She is complicated” sums her up nicely. As for the “love interests” in the superhero films – I sometimes struggle with the ladies but I felt Rachel McAdams was really strong and relevant to to story line and she was a great choice for that role. I can not think of a single character I would have changed or wished I saw something different in: Mordo, Wong, Kaecilius were all equally good in their roles.
- Costumes were really beautiful and I loved the way the characters were dressed. I loved the colors and fabrics, the overlays and various layers, not over the top yet really interesting. It was all really well done.
- This movie has a little something for everyone. Drama, a human story of struggle, all sorts of fun stuff to geek out over (I did), tons of action, and plenty of laughs.
Only after seeing the movie did I learned that this film was 30 years in the making. Various Directors wanted to direct this movie, from Wes Craven to Guillermo del Toro. It finally came together in 2014 for filming under the direction of Scott Derrickson after he spent his own money creating a Doctor Strange concept video for his pitch to Marvel. Derrickson is a life-long fan of Doctor Strange and has mentioned that this is his favorite superhero of all time.
I took a couple of friends with me to see this movie. They are big superhero fans and suggested that you should really check this out in 3D. As someone who struggles a little bit watching 3D movies, I felt like as long as it is on the big screen you will be happy (and a big screen for this really lets you see more of the effects). This is one of those big blockbusters you need a large screen for!
Heads up for parents considering taking small children: please be aware that in the first few minutes of the film a man is beheaded. It is seen as a shadow and no blood is shown, but you see the head coming off the body and going into a pot. There are also some hospital scenes that are not gory but might be confusing to little ones. And there is an impaling later in the film.
Not so spoiler-spoilers:
- As always Stan Lee makes an appearance, but it is a blink and you will miss it situation (I love that he does this!).
- Thor also makes an appearance in the movie, but you will have to wait for the credits.
- There is a hidden scene at the very end, so make sure you sit through the credits…you will want to see it! From what I have read there will be 2 scenes, but we only saw one. This might not be accurate, but it is what I am hearing.
I really enjoyed the movie and highly recommend it! Get yourself to the theaters tomorrow!