Marvel’s latest entry into their pantheon of blockbusters opens up this week, get ready for Doctor Strange! From the moment Marvel announced this project I was excited and a bit worried, there are just so many ways for it to go wrong, but I had faith and eagerly awaited it’s debut. This review will be brief and mostly spoiler free.
I’m going to jump right to it, I liked the film. There were even parts of it I LOVED…but it didn’t grab me the way some of the other Marvel films have in the past. As I have written about before, a good measure of how well I like a superhero film (or pretty much any film) is how bad I want to go out and see it again. When Civil War came out earlier this year, I could have turned right around from leaving the theater and gone into see it a second time and I would have been perfectly happy…I liked it that much. Doctor Strange has it’s share of great moments, but there was a certain lack of gripping excitement that compels me for a repeat viewing. One thing that sort of stood out to me was the whole “Escher style” world altering (and yes, I will use Escher and NOT Inception to make this point because that is where Nolan nicked it from). There was really no reason for it…it didn’t make sense WHY they kept doing it and what it was supposed to be achieving. There were some clever moments when the terrain made for interesting fight sequences or failed escapes, but no real reason to have it happen. It looked cool, but was over used.
After growing so used to the expanded universe in the Marvel films, Doctor Strange felt a bit claustrophobic. There were a few slight nods to there being a bigger world, but nothing direct. I had to remind myself that this is the first Strange film, and just like Iron Man or Thor before it, it lacks the heavy interaction from the rest of the Marvel Universe. I can’t wait to see some interplay between Strange and Tony Stark or Loki.
When the film was first mentioned the very first name I thought of Benedict Cumberbatch. There where some hiccups in scheduling and Cumberbatch originally turned down the role (he had committed to a run of the stage play Hamlet) so then came the heavily rumored Joaquin Phoenix, Jared Leto (pre-Suicide Squad casting), and even Ryan Gosling. I think while any of those other actors are fine, they couldn’t do the same job Benedict did. Luckily, things worked out and Marvel actually pushed the release date to accommodate Cumberbatch. He was worth the wait as he captured the perfect arrogant well to do AND the enlightened pilgrim that make up the Doctor’s character.
A bunch of us went to see it to celebrate SEANxLONG‘s birthday (Happy Birthday Sean!) so there was quite a large herd of us nerds. So of course at the after film dinner (Sean promised us BJ’s afterwards and you can only imagine how much mileage we got in jokes about that) we discussed the merits or lack thereof of Doctor Strange. One thing that came up more than once, was how cliché his origin story is…and it is fairly pat, but you have to realize this was written at the dawn of modern comics and has been copied many times over…so of course it sounds a bit tired. One of the good points, was how seamlessly they managed to incorporate magic into the Marvel Universe…it seemed dare I say it, logical! The costumes were also universally liked by everyone attending, they really did a great job of putting a twist on the traditional comic costumes that read well on screen. All in all it was a great night and everyone ended up liking the film (even the one or two DC Fanboys that joined us liked the movie 😉 The last thing I will mention, and this is a bit of a SPOILER (after picture)
I was afraid they would go the route that FF2 did with Galactus in representing Dormammu. I’m glad to say they did this arch-nemesis true justice in the film, Benedict Cumberbatch even voiced the villain himself! I suggest seeing it for yourself and as always be ready for the after film stingers (there are two this time).