Thursday, 3 November 2016

Film Review No. 15 Doctor Strange (12+)

Strong Points:
Amazing effects
Clever uses of effects
Good origin story which dares to deviate...
Do I see a decent villain coming?
Nice connection to the Infinity Stones and the wider MCU
Good acting
Backwards time fight scene is great
Different types of universes are mostly original
Scope to expand the series
Emotional weighting is good...

Weak Points:
...But is still stuck in the conventions of the genre
Humour is sometimes misplaced
The other characters are still not very developed compared to the title character
The Infinity Stone seems underpowered when it can be controlled by a human
...if uneven
Very fast action could be a bit mind-numbing

Some spoilers ahead:

In-depth Review:
Characters are what really make a Marvel movie right? I mean, they have to be good, they're going to be in another 20. And Doctor Strange is no different, with the main character anyway. Benedict Cumberbatch is Sherlock Steven Strange, a highly talented surgeon, who helps people mostly to show off. When [redacted] happens, leaving him unable to be a surgeon, he goes on a path of healing, learning there are things greater than him and that he has the power to help. So, typical origin story yes, but another good one as well, with some rather excellent exchanges between the eponymous character and those trying to help him.

These other characters are, just like any other Marvel movie, less developed than the main character and that's to be expected - they are side characters after all. However, The Ancient One and Mordo are exceptions to the rule, with Mordo, in particular, having some interesting... developments. Shame the villain in this one was average though - although he made for some very nice fight scenes, using some very nice effects.

Wow, these effects are awesome (and a little trippy). Take the mirror world, for example, done in films previous (The Sorcerer's Apprentice etc.), but nothing to this effect. Buildings were in all angles of the screen, revolving around the place, into each other and back out again, like a moving Escher image. And it wasn't only the buildings that were moving, as who isn't a free-running expert in a Marvel film? This all resulted in a fantastic piece of action and it was just the tip of the iceberg. But more on that in a second.

So we've got good characters, great effects, what else is needed in a Marvel film. Ah, yes, the light-hearted humour and we have that again but with a Sherlockian spin as Strange, just like Sherlock, believes he is a lot funnier than he is. This leads to some great moments where other characters (especially Wong) are just staring blankly at Strange as he is cracking up. However, unlike say Guardians of the Galaxy, some of the humour is a bit misplaced which can lead to more quizzical looks from the audience than laughing ones.

Back to effects now, and the two other major uses of it: showing the different universes, and the final fight scene. Without giving out too many spoilers, both use incredible effects to create things quite unique and the imagination in terms of creating the universes was above par to the humanoid characters most people make. The final fight scene as well was really original and I'd love to see more of it in more films as it creates a nice contrast between the background and foreground.

The final thing in the 'how to be a Marvel film' checklist is Easter Eggs and again, this has plenty. The Stan Lee cameo was nothing special but great to see all the same (they had the scope to make a universe of Stan Lees as well, but, alas, they didn't - maybe in the sequel?) and they also had Easter Eggs from less well-known characters such as The Living Tribunal. Finally, you get two post-credit scenes which set up more films with more connections. I can't wait.

Conclusion: overall, Doctor Strange is another worthy edition to the MCU series, daring to go in different and surprising ways both technically and narratively while still staying true to the tried and tested MCU formula.

Rating: 91%

Thanks for reading, Satamer.

P.S. anyone notice the new title screen animation? What are your thoughts?

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