MARVEL continues its fearless unveiling of its lesser known characters with the latest hero, Doctor Strange. It has gotten to the point where MARVEL would have to drastically drop the ball to create something that isn’t received well or at the very least doesn’t make an astronomical amount of benjamins. With positive reviews (this being one) coming in from all over, I think it’s safe to say that Strange will not perish into obscurity. The new era of Avengers looks to be a bright and fascinating possibility.
Benedict Cumberbatch. He is as unique an actor as his name would suggest. He is a talent that I don’t believe has even fully spread his “acting wings” and has already proven himself a household name. So often an actor is announced for a superhero and usually that decision is met with unwavering know-it-alls who “know” that it’s a bad choice. Then, the film is released and most of the time these loudmouths are silenced and sent back to their parent’s basements where they await the next announcement they can all blindly hate. Cumberbatch coming aboard as Doctor Stephen Strange, at least from my perspective, seems to have circumvented all the noise and was instead welcomed with normally closed arms, now wide open and ready to embrace Cumberbatch as their new primary physician.
Director Scott Derrickson helmed this latest MARVEL iteration having come off a lackluster (I’m being kind here) horror film, Deliver Us From Evil. That film plagued with clichés, his involvement here left me with a bit of apprehension. That said I still had faith in him as his directed effort before that bad idea was the highly disturbing, well-made horror, Sinister. He has proven that he has talent, he merely needs the right project to shine through. With MARVEL films it’s difficult to decipher what’s the director’s influence and where they are forced to stay within the lines of an already established universe. This makes sense since all these heroes are meant to collide in the same films at some point down the road. Tentpole films aren’t exactly the best way to show your originality as a filmmaker but more it’s about one’s ability to steer a ship in a congruent direction to eventually pass the baton on to the next director. In that sense, Derrickson achieves what was asked of him and safely so the baton will once again pass without resistance. These films are a resumé boost for future projects. Add it to the list, Mr. Derrickson, you did it.
The story of Strange (in the film) is familiar at times but never without interesting progression of story and character alike. He is cocky and undisciplined in the ways of humility and quite frankly, kindness. Through extraordinary events (this is a superhero film after all) he is pushed to the limits of both his physical self and the knowledge he possesses of the world and what exactly makes it tick. He is a wild bronco whose taming comes at the cost of everything he once held in such high regard. His life is changing in uncontrollable ways and control is what gives his life meaning. Needless to say, his reluctance to alter his perceptions is at the forefront of every new decision he now faces. But as is the way of all life, movie or not, change is inevitable. He eventually realizes this and decides he will not let anything get the better of him and his training as the Sorcerer Supreme.
While the story isn’t a revelation, the visuals are a spectacle proving that CGI heavy films can contain both insanely vibrant, impossibly beautiful effects and characters to make the visuals relevant and purposeful. As both in camera and computer generated imagery come together they do so here seamlessly and believably. And even more rare is it that a film is made with 3D in mind rather than as an afterthought. Therefore the 3D version of this film makes the more visually compelling moments even more engaging and dare I say, trippier. See it in 3D because for once, it makes this experience even better. Surprising I know.
I think I’ve said this in previous reviews for MARVEL films; you’ve decided already if you have any interest in seeing Doctor Strange. You made up your mind several films ago, before Strange was ever announced. MARVEL isn’t exactly a mixed bag when it comes to their films, structurally speaking. Meaning you have a sense of what the next ten films will be like, to an extent of course. This is what makes MARVEL so much fun, they know people aren’t stupid but still expect surprises to arise in some fashion and so far MARVEL is more than happy to deliver time and time again. Doctor Strange is not without its flaws but for the very few of them there are so many pros to seeing such a flashy, well-made action adventure that, as with all MARVEL films, only aims to wow and blow minds. ✔
Rated PG-13 For: sci-fi violence and action throughout, and an intense crash sequence
Runtime: 115 minutes
After Credits Scene: Two of them
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Mads Mikkelsen
Directed By: Scott Derrickson
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 4/ Acting: 4/ Directing: 4/ Visuals: 5
OVERALL: 4.5 Nerdskulls
Check out the trailer below:
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