Doctor Strange review: Visually Astounding

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The ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe added another installment to have more leverage to the upcoming Avengers films. The team lead by Kevin Feige brought the comic book character Doctor Strange on screen. The last time I saw Dr. Strange was back in the 2000s where he appeared in an episode in Spiderman series. I was too young to understand the plot and therefore, was under the impression that Strange is an antagonist. As it turns out, with all the knowledge he received, Doctor Strange is not only a hero but unbeatable character from the Avengers team. I also knew that it was only a matter of time that Benedict Cumberbatch will be cast in a superhero film after the massive impact he made with his performances in BBC Sherlock and oscar-nominated Imitation game. Lo and behold, I am right!

Before making a decision in terms of going to the theaters to watch a superhero flick, I noted down three things that should be done so that a superhero film could be enjoyed better.

  1. Watch it in 3D with Dolby Atmos effects. Superhero films are notorious for having similar-ish themes and backgrounds. All that is needed is the response from hyper excited fanbases. So, having flawless visual effects and exemplary surround sound experience is essential, it is something worth looking forward to.
  2. Watch it only if the hype refuses to die down. Before I went for Batman vs superman, I didn’t pay much heed to the reviews and rating. The movie is so disappointing and after reading all the comments from both fans and critics, my overall thoughts were “I should have known better“.
  3. Don’t have any expectations. In the cases of BVS and Captain America: Civil War, the expectations are what ruined my ability to enjoy the films. The DCU film was over-the-top and MCU product had too many cheesy moments to tolerate. Civil war was not horrendous, just disappointing.

As far as  Doctor Strange is concerned, I had absolutely no expectations whatsoever in terms of plotline. After watching several back-to-back flicks that were disappointing, Doctor Strange turned out to be a step ahead. Mainly due to the sheer visual effects, sound effects and Benedict’s portrayal. Doctor Stephen Strange is a brilliant neurosurgeon who takes up very challenging cases, like a patient who was presumed dead by his colleagues. Thus, he turned down many cases including a soldier with a broken spine. Ring any bells? 

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He has steady hands and this is shown in an exaggerated yet effective scene where he pulled out a bullet from the patient’s brain, manually. He is super brilliant who completely his M.D and Ph.D at once, some of us are struggling with it. As his overrated rich lifestyle was going on smoothly, a ferocious accident leaves him scarred and he couldn’t use his hands to perform surgeries due to the tremors. This leaves him depressed, has a bitter breakup with Christine and most of the surgeons turn him down. Stephen Strange witnesses the consequences of what he did during his golden period as he turned down several cases and his money spending habits. Eventually, he spends his last dollar on a one-way trip to Nepal based on an information he received from a former patient who had a spine injury. As he was looking for the answers, the only property he has is the watch gifted to him by Christine. He was rescued from the thieves who tried to steal the watch from him by Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who takes him to the ancient one (Tilda Swinton). Journey to the ‘super action’ status begins from there.

Personally, what I liked about the film is the beginning where we get to witness the humane side to Doctor Strange and the journey. The second half is just another typical superhero film but that’s what the genre is all about. As mentioned earlier, I did not have expectations from this film except for the CGI and gimmicks within the story. Even the early rotten tomatoes 100% rating didn’t do the job. Yes, the rating was 100% and I was shocked and taken aback. One does not simply give a film that much unless it is Mad Max fury road. The rating reduced to 85% of course. The movie thus was just better than a minimum standard given to a superhero film.

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The idea of having magic, spirituality, physics, and medicine are enthralling and the character Doctor Strange has depth and attributes that make him human. He is witty but arrogant, yet we will feel sorry for him as he struggles to heal his hands so that he could go back to his ‘old life’ and it is due to Benedict’s intense performance. My favorite scenes are; where he breaks up with Christine Palmer by ranting against her concerns and the part where he has an emotional outburst in front of the ancient one about his status as a doctor who saves lives instead of taking it. At the same time, his one liners are worth a laugh or two; from “Beyonce” (we will then see Wong listening to her famous “single ladies” in the following scene) to “I have come to bargainFans chose him as most forums mentioned earlier though there were concerns about the way he implemented the American accent since it sounded less impressive in the trailer. In the film, his accent is perfect, though, at times, he seems to have stressed a bit on ‘R’ but it could be disregarded as the character himself is trying to adapt to the new life. Chiwetel Ejiofor had his moments like the scene where he narrates the story about Kaecilius while locking Stephen in his arms during tussle practice but in the second half, he is only fulminating about the ancient one’s corruption and distortion of the laws of nature. He does have a good dynamic with Benedict and looked great as a team. Rachel McAdams is just there to be the concerned girlfriend-cum- feminine touch to the superhero’s tumultuous life. The last thing I wanted to see is a damsel in distress, it wasn’t there *sigh*. Mads Mikkelson is believable as a super villain thanks to his daunting appearance and speech.

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But, there is an unintentionally comic sequence where a mechanical rig, used by Doctor Strange for attacking, put Kaecilius in a droll position. It was supposed to be a heroic move but it looked cheesy, especially for Kaecilius as he is considered as a very dangerous villain. Why reduce him like that? Tilda Swinton shines but she departed sooner than expected the way Master Oogway did in Kung Fu Panda and Stephen Strange is “Po” in that sense. The movie was a mixture of Kung Fu Panda and edge of tomorrow in the second half. Some of the comic sequences should have been avoided like the part where Stephen’s drape of levitation fights one of Kaecilius’s henchmen by itself while Stephen was mortally injured, it was absurd and I remember facepalming at that moment.

Visual effects department should take most of the credits as they have created a whole new experience for those who like IMAX. I really miss the Imax experience and some of the visual will lure you in, notably the chase sequence and the final “bargaining“. I loath the excess use of the CGI but in this movie’s case, it is executed proficiently. Hopefully, the team will win an academy award for visual effects and sound effects. You are in the film when you close your eyes as the explosion and the residues fall around you. Hollywood should seriously consider not using high volume music during effect sequences.

Doctor Strange is worth your time. It is fast paced and visually astounding. Ensure that you try your level best to witness it in IMAX. Also, don’t have too many expectations 😛

3.5/5

BTW

On behalf of the MARVEL fans, there should be a scene in the upcoming Avengers film with Doctor Strange and Iron-man together and someone says “No shit, Sherlock”. 😀 Robert Downey Jr himself endorsed this campaign in his facebook page.

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Featured image: hdwallpapers.com

 

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