By the Eye of Agamotto it’s been a hot minute since I did a movie review!! Going by that wording I have come back from the psychedelic trip known as Dr. Strange, Marvel Studio’s 14th film detailing the origins of Stephen Strange and introducing magic into the MCU.
This a big deal since it’s mostly been a rich man using tech to save his life and become someone flying around in armor, a nerdy scientist get pumped full of gamma rays to become a rampaging ball of fury, world war 2 grandpa that is still young thanks to plot of being trapped in a block of ice and a serum that keeps him at his prime.
A normal guy with a bow and arrow, a red haired spy out that could be a contender for the Spy that loved me. A blonde norse “god” who could just be some foreign alien or mid-tier deity of myth, to a bunch of random Joe’s that get abilities from circumstances either by being blinded by some substance, a female that went through the same process as if she were Alex Mack reincarnated, a guy being experimented on in jail and other stuff.
However through extraordinary leaps and bounds of this universe of aliens, superheroes, raging A.I’s with a god complex, bureaucratic politics, we have missed something that a majority of us think is a bunch of rubbish or trick of the eye; magic.
Stephen Strange is a big shot surgeon that will only operate on someone worth his time and to push his skills to the limit. He is high up with what he can do, has boat loads of money and a sort of womanizer but highly arrogant and conceited at the same time.
However all this changes when he winds up in a horrific accident and takes away his ability to use his hands, which is bad since he is a surgeon and it is their life. Going through various resources and treatments to get his hands back to where they were he blows through his money like water and meets dead end after dead end.
Down on his luck he gets word of some patient that wound up with his body wrecked is miraculously walking on his own power which befuddles Stephen. Getting word of where to go next, Stephen will have his mind open as he discovers that our universe isn’t what it seems, that there are forces beyond science and human comprehension that lurk in every corner and that their are sorcerers and magi apprentices that protect the world from the mystic threats and the title of “Sorcerer Supreme”, one who has mastered or aware of all magic and events.
A former student that has betrayed the teachings of magic and yearns for life eternal will be just a minor threat in the grand scope of situations as Stephen will learn the true depths of what kind of person he is.
The plot is good at explaining magic at it’s base for general audiences who aren’t familiar with the concept, unless one watched a lot of Charmed or Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the 90’s or read’s fantasy and mystery novels with the element of magic but I digress.
I found most interesting the concept of borrowing certain magic from other dimensions and imbuing inanimate objects with magic to do a certain task that could harm the user.
I acquaint this magic like how it works in the Slayer’s anime; Lina Inverse and the other characters that know how to use magic can cast spells by tapping into their magical potency to generate a sort of lure and cast a spell by accessing the originator of a spell.
Going to dive a little into anime lore very briefly, please bear with me.
Take for instance the Dragon Slave, Lina’s signature spell, it calls upon the Demon Lord Shabranigdo’s power to use the destructive spell that can destroy a dragon and decimate a city or town.
*Casting the Dragon Slave*
The process of calling forth spells by other beings just reminds me of that is all that I’m saying.
Benedict Cumberbatch (Stephen Strange/Doctor Strange), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Karl Mordo/Baron Mordo), Tilda Swinton (Ancient One), Rachel McAdams (Christine Palmer), Benedict Wong (Wong) and Mads Mikkelsen (Kaecilius) are the main and support characters that make up this movie.
For the role of Strange I could tell that Benedict was really into doing homage to being a great portrayal of the sorcerer supreme. Even though, in the beginning and middle of the movie, one can interpret him being like a Tony Stark expy with being arrogant and having a thing for fast cars and womanizer, the clear difference is in the performance itself.
*Ready to fight!*
Strange’s raison d’etre is his very pride and though arrogant at first, the growth he shows in the course of the film really shows how he’s changed. Sure his brand of humor isn’t up to Tony Stark (Robert Downy Jr) along with being flippant and fast talking but his humanity is what makes him endearing compared to the armor wearing philanthropist in my opinion.
*See, what a jerk*
I also felt that Stephen Strange was a well needed echo for Doctor Doom (Victor Von Doom) from the Fantastic Four comic, due to his earlier said arrogance. If you aren’t aware Doctor Doom also has connections to Doctor Strange, the most famous is The Oath comic where the patriarch and sorceror go to hell to save Doom’s mother from Mephisto during the course of that story.
Due to Doom’s heritage of being a Romani gypsy, he can use magic effectively and actually at one point tried to take the test to becoming sorcerer supreme. It is in that respect of magic and his own genius level intellect with science that he is superior to Reed Richards that he has a grasp on the principles of combining both ends of different practices for his own use.
It is a wasted opportunity that Marvel studio’s do not have the right to use any Fantastic Four memorabilia since Doom would be a good contender for Strange on a mystic level but I’m giving Doom far too much credit due to my love of the Fantastic Four. It is stated Strange is superior in all forms of the magic he uses while Doom is like second or third, depending on continuity and status quo of any character using magic in the comic books.
*All hail Doom!*
Tilda’s performance as the Ancient One though is really what stood out for me. She had subtle humor from a one shot wink to Stephen when she’s introduced to being a bad-ass fighter .
To begin, I never had a problem with the Ancient One being white let alone a woman; this is a different interpretation of the character and as long as the person portraying said character is giving it there all, I have no gripes regarding a difference. I am aware of the recent upheaval of “whitewashing” of characters in films and it does hold truth but to begin, and I can’t stress this enough, it’s nothing but an adaption for the MCU. This character holds no bearing in the comics so, at times, we as fans should NOT get so butt hurt over some difference.
This isn’t just for comic fans of the material, it’s getting shown to a wide range of non people who don’t read comics so there’s got to be some differences, as long as it is respectful to the creation, that’s what should really matter.
*FYI she was also the witch in The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe*
Mordo, to use another example, race was changed from white to black but I don’t see anyone crying havoc. Chiwetel did service to Mordo as well by making him more complex with what ideals he holds when it comes to magic, which I liked.
*He’s more calmer in the film compared to his comic counterpart*
Wong can be considered the Drax of this movie with his no-nonsense ways but grows on you with his reactions to Strange’s sarcasm.
*He’s not the caretaker in this version but I think it will grow to that in the sequel*
For McAdams’s though she felt like she was just there to have a pretty woman on there. She is pseudo-romantic interest but it’s very subtle and even though its stated they dated (I’d think just have sex after some events Strange dragged her to) he clearly ran to her when it came to the movie shifting to the hospital he worked in.
*Again she was okay*
I hear some fans relate her to being “Night Nurse” the movie clearly states she is a doctor and not a nurse. I truly doubt this has bearing given Marvel studio movies don’t make any ref to Netflix extended Marvel universe but given having a nurse in those shows (Claire) that could have been a factor?
*Real Night Nurse*
The would be bad guy was okay but nothing to talk about to be honest. It felt like Ant-man’s Yellow Jacket once again of someone using something to gain power or eternity in this instance.
Doctor Strange characters were overall decent and fun. Nothing really complex with them other than Mordo by what happens with his story in course of the film but that’s good as well.
Okay the last portion of this review! I like to begin I went with my good buddy Mike (@mmorse1017), once again for are geek-comic movie and it was fun!
Given my praise of this movie I do have some minor gripes regarding Doc Strange. One is the concept of magic and the price there needs to be.
Sure if one “let’s go” of their pride and trains body/mind to achieve the awakening is fine but I remember a certain “Dark One” from Once Upon A Time that always cries “Magic always comes with a price” at random points in that series and even though it’s a different show altogether, that rule stands out to me.
*I go by this rule*
I would think there is an unspoken rule of that not everyone is adapted or has potential in magic, which is cool but with the amount of some big magic being flung out there felt kind of like breaking a rule.
*Using magic can be exhausting like running track*
Whenever Strange or one of the others used magic, in the form of sigils that took the shape of weapons (discs/swords/staffs/whips) it didn’t look like they got exhausted for using something.
I am aware of how they do have artifacts to use some for putting strain on their bodies but I just felt it really wasn’t the case in this except for the casual “winks out” whenever Strange started utilizing magic.
It would also have been nice if magic were more “thrown out” like magical blast but I can understand how that would be expensive. At least we get a lot of Inception like imagery to go with this film, am I right?
The process of the training for Stephen also felt rushed since the time frame never stated how long he was there. Are we to believe he spent the course of say Captain America Civil War time training?
Jokes are also limited in this film and though it does get one or two home runs it falls flat at times. Not sure if it was the atmosphere of the theater or whatnot but some were not feeling them.
Of course I think the attendees loved Strange’s cloak of levitation. I won’t spoil what happens but it was an eye opener.
At the beginning of Stephen’s “third eye” being awakened and pulling a Fantasia moment with some trippy, psychedelic lighting of imagery and random stuff, I found myself getting a little freaked out by them.
I mean hand-fingers on top of hands? Shit freaked me out, I wonder if Mike-nah. He’s not one to get disturbed by anything he sees.
Along with seeing one of Strange’s big bad’s come in, Dormammu. Seeing that high upper demon appear was surprising due to I wasn’t expecting him, at least not in the first film. Granted I don’t know many of Strange’s rouges other than Dormammu and a being called Shuma-Gorath, the latter which I only know from Marvel vs. Capcom.
*I know where this is leading…*
Big Dorma was far more intriguing than the one we got for half the movie.
Of course there was some music references which were okay, nothing I would listen to much but decent. There were nods to the Avengers either in name or what could be seen in location choices, which I missed since I was more interested in the fantasy aspect of the film than wondering about them.
I am someone that loves fantasy novels that feature heavy with magic or anything related to it so seeing this film was just awesome for me. One could be surprised by my interest in this than some of the other Marvel films due to said magic, spells, anything that doesn’t involve science.
I’d say it’s ironic given my own practicality and skepticism disposition majority of the time that I’d fall for this fantasy/supernatural film.
*My inner Chandler Bing coming to the surface*
Another point of interest is the logo of Marvel, it is now changed to Marvel Studio’s, to show that this is from them and not X-men or Deadpool universe, which is still sad that Marvel/Fox can’t find some common ground to combined the universes. This is why I say again it’s a wasted opportunity not to get Doctor Doom in this universe, he’d spice it up real good after the threat of Thanos which will last to phase 4 I think?
Doctor Strange is a film that needs to be seen in theaters and in 3D to get that full psychedelic experience. I’m telling you I had a strong urge to listen to Oasis “Champagne SUpernova” afterwards due to how trippy it was.
I would also suggest seeing it a second time just for kicks if you are still confused on some things.
I also forgot to bring this up and it is a spoiler; an infinity stone is shown in this and plays a role as well. I won’t say which but if you are curious backtrack to see how many that are already known in past Marvel Studio movies and determine what could be left.
Plot – 7 out of 10
Cast – 7 out of 10
Characters – 8 out of 10
Music – 6.5 out of 10
Imagery – 9 out of 10
Development of characters – 7 out of 10
Final Score – 8.5 out of 10
Doctor Strange is another hit with the masses and it seems to go with Ant-Man in terms of a surprise hit. I wouldn’t say it’s Guardians Of The Galaxy due to that was more of a sleeper hit than any of the current films by Marvel Studio’s currently.
Though weak in some parts and despite the freaky imagery that made my skin crawl at times and even exclaim with surprise (which I think Mike might have noticed) Doctor Strange is worth seeing!
Given the amount of praise, money and hype I’m positive Doctor Strange will be seeing a sequel in the future to continue dazzling us with what he deals with. Hopefully they might add Clea in the next film. She is a love interest and powerful sorceress in her own right and apparently niece of Dormammu.
*Heir to the dark dimension?*
Along with please stay behind for post and after credit scenes or you’ll miss out. It might seem insignificant but it’s just nice seeing little easter eggs. I am always amazed that people get up as soon as they see the damn credits.
Sit your butts down and watch, you are paying good money!! But again I think the ones that stay behind are strong, hardcore fans of Marvel films so I have no room to talk. You do see a familiar face in one of them. The post credit scene though lays down the groundwork for the Doctor Strange films as well.
Since this is November there will be no more Marvel films until next spring when Guardians of the Galaxy 2 comes out so I will be looking forward to that and even Spider-Man: Homecoming.
The last overall “geek/nerd” movie coming out is Star Wars: Rogue One, which I will see to my befuddlement. I’ll try to do a review when it comes out next month but it will probably be short. Sorry I just don’t believe in spin offs of something we know what happens with the rebels.
Yeah I am jaded with the hype of SW but am looking forward to episode 8 in like a couple of years.
So that it for this review, I hope it was at least entertaining?
Take care everyone!