Monday, November 7, 2016

Movie Review: DOCTOR STRANGE (Review #3)

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been ruthlessly and ferociously expanding for quite sometime. Looking back at the early films that hide within the universe, we see a group of filmmakers desperately trying to grasp a unique look at film form and utilize this to create box office shattering blockbusters. But something has been happening recently that takes a much more interesting and enjoyable turn. Instead of grabbing big time directors for these big time films, they have sought out indie directors with a clearly established visual style and thrust a character or storyline upon them. This seems to be working seamlessly, receiving not only incredible revenue from the theatres but also a well received response from the critics. One of the best examples of this "risk-taking" style of filmmaking working at its absolute best is with Scott Derrickson's Doctor Strange!

Doctor Strange is centered around the eccentric, egotistical, yet immensely talented, Doctor Stephen Strange: a neurosurgeon, who breaks all of the rules of surgery yet always manages to come out on top. After a horrific car accident, Doctor Strange loses the one tool he feels he needs to live, his hands. Strange then begins searching for a way to fix his tools, desperately clinging onto any lead that is given to him. Strange finds himself wound up on the opposite end of the world, discovering a whole other universe he never knew existed yet was always right in front of him.

Doctor Strange excels as a film, and as the next installment of the Marvel universe, on a number of levels. First and foremost, the most impressive and abrasive part of the film is the overwhelming visual style. At first, there was worry about the visuals borrowing from a majority of other mind-bending films, but Derrickson manages to keep everything incredibly unique. From flipping New York into a labyrinth style boxing ring, to being thrust into a whole other dimension that forces you to consider if something was slipped into your drink before the movie, Derrickson hardly steals any visual inspiration and there are several shots of grand proportion giving the film the epic vibe that it deserves.

A complaint most people may have about the film is that it is an origin story. But that's what we typically get with Marvel, so why are you angry? That's like attending a strip club and being mad that people are naked, what did you expect?! Doctor Strange has a script with several grudging moments of exposition but, with magic, gravity, time, and space at the core of the underlying structure, you have to expect several moments of explanation. Otherwise we would be totally lost as an audience.

One of the greatest compliments, among the visual elegance and fight scenes, is the ensemble cast. Benedict Cumberbatch is an absolute joy, switching from cocky talented douchebag to the unstoppable, "force to be reckoned with" superhero. But the show stealer of the entire film is Tilda Swinton who plays the character of The Ancient One (Strange's mentor). After receiving a lot of flack in the press on The Ancient One's character not being Asian, Swinton still managed to blow us away (as she usually does) and deliver a performance that not only dazzles, but brings a tear to your eye. And the cherry on top of the already delicious looking cake is Mads Mikkelsen. Mikkelsen plays Kaecilius, the evil and ruthless murder that faces off against Strange. With sinister lines delivered, and an even more sinister glare, Mikkelsen needs to be cast as every super villain, ever.

Doctor Strange dazzles visually and emotionally, making it another glorious hit in the Marvel Cinematic Universe!

Joshua's Score: 9/10

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