spreading the talent

Review: Doctor Strange

doctor_strange_posterAnother Marvel movie that proves relatively unknown mainstream characters can hold their own has arrived.  Is this the best Marvel movie yet?  No.  In fact I wouldn’t say it is in the top 5, but that isn’t saying much.  Marvel has gotten to the point where each film holds its own, and just because it hasn’t made a top 5 doesn’t mean it was not worth seeing.  In fact, for this movie I think you almost need to see it in the theater.

I must warn you though… if you have vertigo or any type of motion sickness it is possible you’ll feel a bit woozy.  Visually its stunning, but a lot to process.  Okay down to the review.  There will be spoilers, so if you don’t wish to know anything going in, then you might want to scroll down to the last paragraph to see my overall rating.  As usual I’ll focus on the characters and how they made or didn’t make the movie…  Here goes:

Dr. Stephen Strange – Benedict Cumberpatch is one of those few actors who really excels in all he does.  While the movie itself dragged a little bit in narrative, the character of Dr. Strange made it interesting.  This is a whole new type of persona in the Marvel Cinematic universe.  Yes, Tony Stark has an ego, but Strange’s comes from a different background.  It will be interesting to see the two meet for the first time.  My only complaint is not knowing the timeline here.  It seems that with all he learned while on his healing journey, he had to have been away for years.  Despite time travel being involved we really don’t get an idea of how much the length of time is during this film.

Karl Mordo – Chiwetel Ejiofor was great in the role of Mordo.  I was disappointed to see him as an ally, but it was set up for him to return as the big bad in a follow up.  Because of this I can be forgiving.  This film serves as an origin of sorts for him becoming the man who will be against everything Strange does.  I look forward to seeing him again.  His race here is a change from the comics, but I feel like we’re getting an updated version, so it’ll be interesting to see how he comes into play later.

Christine Palmer – Rachel McAdams had a supporting role, but one of much importance.  She is officially the second Night Nurse in the Marvel film world.  The first would be Rosario Dawson’s character in the Netflix shows.  Both Christine and Claire had similar roles in the comics, and it’d be nice to see McAdams return again to serve that role for what’s to come.

Wong – I find it amusing that Benedict “Wong” is the actor playing this role.  Surely that must have been on purpose.  He was an almost direct interpretation of what I remember from the comics.  His role was one crucial to the story, and obviously he will serve as a great ally to Strange from here on out.  I liked how the Time Infinity Stone was incorporated into the Eye of Agomotto.  It is a slight change, but one worth having.  I only wonder how long Wong had been guarding it.  His predecessor was killed, so having a slight back story to what Wong’s origin is would be a great idea for the sequel if we ever get one.

Kaecilius – Mads Mikkelsen is one of those actors that is the perfect bad guy.  He’s so badass in this role, but I feel Marvel is following a pattern with their origin stories.  It always seems the villains have a less than interesting reason for their actions.  Maybe it’s just become redundant as to how the story progresses, but regardless Kaecilius was a decent henchman for the big bad here.

The Ancient One – Unfortunately going into this I already knew Tilda Swinton was playing the role.  This isn’t a bad thing as I think she was easily a great highlight of the movie, but knowing the comics I was expecting an old Chinese guy.  When Strange first appeared in Tibet Marvel should have done better at hiding the trailer giveaways.  It would have been a good approach to have her as a shocker to the audience, just as Strange was shocked that the elderly oriental guy wasn’t the real Ancient One.

Dormammu – was a character that this movie needed, but I don’t like how he was portrayed.  The CGI seemed a little off to me, but maybe that is because my focus was on everything else.  Don’t get me wrong, the visuals were absolutely stunning, but I guess I didn’t see him being portrayed in quite the manner he was.  Benedict Cumberpatch also voiced Dormammu, but questions are left open.  If Strange used the Infinity Stone to loop time, then how long was he actually facing off against the dark creature?  I read that it was implied Dormammu had killed Strange over 1,000 times, but we never get an accurate portrayal of that.  On a positive note, this was one of the best final fight scenes in a Marvel Movie for the mere fact that it was so different from the rest, and really focused on the use of the Infinity Stone by a hero.

Stan Lee – Okay, so he was just a bus passenger in this movie, but we can’t ignore his cameo.  He is after all “the Man”.

Thor – the first credit scene shows Thor consulting with Doctor Strange.  This was probably one of the most significant credit scenes to date.  Why?  Well, we got a half answer to the aftermath of Thor the Dark World.  We now know that Odin was missing from Asgard and that is how Loki got the throne.  Details are still slim, but it gets rid of certain speculation and preps us for Thor Ragnarok’s events.  Plus we seem to get confirmation that not only are Thor and Hulk teaming up for the movie, but Doctor Strange will be there in some way as well.

Speculation from here: as usual, I like to throw my thoughts out on where this will go and what can be done.  Keep in mind, it is just speculation, but as an avid fan of these stories I have to let my inner geek out.  Baron Mordo will probably be the villain saved for Doctor Strange 2.  Perhaps it will have the subtitle of “The Sorcerer Supreme” because now that the Ancient One is no longer around, Strange can earn that title.  Mordo bargaining with Dormammu would be easy to do because he could tell Dormammu that he doesn’t approve of how Strange is using his powers, so their “deal” can be broken (if even for a little extra boost of power.)  The Time Stone will be taken at some point for Infinity War, but let’s look beyond that.  After the showdown with Thanos there will have to be some sort of protection of the stone usage.  Could Avengers 4 be subtitled “Illuminati?”  Think about it.  Vision would regain the Mind Stone.  The Time Stone would remain with Doctor Strange. And the others could be scattered to different characters (one of which probably Adam Warlock).  Add to all of this the fact that a “multi-verse” was mentioned and this is the way that you can bring in a Marvel/Fox studios crossover event.  It’s well overdue, and could explain the difference between the universes interpretations.  Finally, Stan Lee.  His presence in everything should be addressed.  I’d love to see him revealed as some sort of character.  Is he the Beyonder?  Is he Impossible Man?  A Watcher perhaps?  Who knows, but it would make his role that much more important to it all.

My rating: Doctor Strange was not the best Marvel movie, but it was a unique one that was done well.  We now have a surgeon in the group who is well versed in magic.  The ride was a visual rollercoaster of excitement, and while there were slow narrative moments, they were placed well with a build up towards the magic shown.  To some it may be confusing, but for others its a highly well thought out story that introduces a whole new fun batch of elements to an already booming film continuity.  Doctor Strange gets 3.5 out of 5 sCrypt coffins from me.  What were your thoughts?  Any speculation?  Feel free to chime in with your comments.

 

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