Saturday, November 5, 2016
Dr. Strange Movie (Spoiler Free) Review
This has definitely been a superhero heavy year, and here comes another addition to the long list of superheroes to hit the big screen. As long as they're making great movies and telling good stories, I won't be succumbing to any comic book movie fatigue anytime soon.
From all the vibe surrounding this movie, and the praise for its visuals, I was definitely poised to watch this in 3D, and definitely at the IMax Theatre. My twin brother organized this one on the fly, thus, despite not necessarily being a fan of being in downtown Nairobi that late, we settled on the 9.50 pm showing yesterday night. (I can attest that this time the IMax didn't do us dirty by starting the movie while we were still lined up outside the screening area. I gotta say, though, the IMax has one of the worst concession stands I have ever come across; drab and inefficient, it really spoils what should be a good total experience).
I'm pretty sure that this movie has already gotten a myriad of comparisons to other movies of yore. Of course there's the alternate reality type of thing entailed in this movie's plot, so The Matrix and Inception (especially due to the trippy visuals) will get tossed around a lot. This is an origin story, and Dr. Stephen Strange is an egotistical individual, so Iron Man will also get mentioned a lot. At the end of the day, it is clear that Dr. Strange is its own unique movie, and it one-ups all those other movies it gets compared to.
The movie is a linear narrative, detailing everything from the evil turn of the antagonist, to Dr. Strange's fall from grace and his desperation, and finally to his humbling and metamorphosis into a hero. Benedict Cumberbatch shines as the fledgling hero, interesting to watch in all his emotional turns, and lending gravitas to this comic book movie. His arrogance is more akin to Dr. House MD than to Tony Stark. He's not a bad person, per se: his demeanour is just atrocious (like some great doctors). By the time this movie even comes to an end, he's not yet even become the great Sorcerer Supreme that people usually know him to be; but, he's a humbled man rising to the challenge that has been unceremoniously tossed his way.
We have some good turns from everyone involved, especially Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton and Mads Mikkelsen. Seems like they threw an extremely gifted bunch of thespians into a mere comic book movie, but I'm not complaining. However, in setting up Kaecilius in a role that the comics usually reserve for a certain unnamed villain (no spoiler here!), I feel like some of Mads Mikkelsen's role might have been sacrificed. Therefore, as usual, people will complain that we've been given yet another weak Marvel villain. In the grand scheme of things, he's a secondary antagonist - similar to Loki playing second fiddle to Thanos in The Avengers, but being the biggest sinister presence within that movie. Fortunately for Loki, he'd had a pretty well established history by that time.
It would be very remiss of me to fail to mention the visuals of this movie, which are very much an unsung character in this movie. If you've ever picked up a Dr. Strange comic, you'd know that trippy visuals are par for the course with this character. This comic truly was Inception (and then some) before Inception was an inkling in Christopher Nolan's mind. However, bringing those visuals to life as beautifully as it was done here is in itself a superhuman feat. Once the Ancient One lays her hand on Stephen Strange's head, you are in for the ride of your life. I'm pretty sure Astral Projection has been done before, but this movie sets a new standard for what astral projection SHOULD look like. I'm not sure whether Dr. Strange has a faithful animal companion in the comic book, but this movie filled that role by imbuing the Cloak of Levitation with that manner of sensibility. From the moment the Cloak make its onscreen presence, it will be delightfully seared into your mind. As for the locations, London, New York and Kathmandu are stunningly shot and a beauty to behold.
This is a Marvel movie, so the colour palette is warm, and though the mood get heavy at times, it is lighthearted most of the time, and the jokes do hit the mark. I also love the characterization portrayed in the movie. Typically, Stephen Strange is the resident egotist who needs to be humbled. However, everyone in this movie, even the well-meaning sages, are shown to be flawed. Even the well meaning good deeds performed with the best of intentions can sometimes backfire terribly, and those ramifications are what will be explored further in what is to come in this franchise. It really highlights the Yin and the Yang really well; that there's a bit of good in the most evil of people, and likewise a bit of evil in the most good of individuals.
I had only one gripe in this movie, and it comes during that otherworldly visual street chase scene pitting Dr. Strange and Mordo against Kaecilius and his minions. In most of this movie, Dr. Strange and Mordo, whether they're winning or overwhelemed, are typically stoic and keep fighting. However, towards the end of that scene, they appear unnecessarily powerless and feeble, which serves as an exaggerated prelude to the tragedy that follows. It could have been played out differently, but like I said, minor gripe.
This movie is a beautiful addition to the MCU, and is probably their best Origin movie story to date. I'm looking forward to seeing how the Sorcerer Supreme will fit into the MCU from this point onwards. I can only rate this movie as an A+; I suggest you give it a watch in IMax 3D if you get the chance (wouldn't want you ruing missed chances of you wait till it comes out on Blu-Ray).