Thursday, November 24, 2016
Based on the comic series by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, Doctor Strange is the story of a surgeon who learns he has mystical powers as he tries to hone them for the good of the world against evil. Directed by Scott Derrickson and screenplay by Derrickson, Jon Spaihts, and C. Robert Cargill, the film is an exploration of a man whose life changes following an accident as he is given powers that would bring a broader viewpoint of the world as the titular character is played by Benedict Cumberbatch. Also starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Tilda Swinton, Benedict Wong, Michael Stuhlbarg, Benjamin Bratt, and Mads Mikkelsen. Doctor Strange is a dazzling yet thrilling film from Scott Derrickson.
The film is an origin story of sorts about a surgeon whose life changes following a life-threatening accident where he seeks a way to heal himself where he gains mystical powers through the mysterious teachings of a sorcerer. It’s a film that explores the mystical and spiritual world that surrounds the real world where good and evil try to balance things yet the latter starts to take matters into its own hands as an evil sorcerer steals a text from a book to open up a dimension in the hopes for eternal life. For the titular character of Dr. Steven Strange, he would have a lot to learn as his willingness to learn the arts as well as his determination makes him a promising student to the sorcerer known as the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton). Still, Strange has to deal with the fact that he can’t control everything as well as be humbled as he faces off against Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) who is a former student of the Ancient One as he hopes to summon an evil figure of a dark dimension to grant him eternal life.
The film’s screenplay doesn’t just explore the development of Strange as this brilliant but arrogant surgeon who thinks he knows more than anyone as he does a lot to save lives as if it’s nothing only until he is nearly killed in an accident that leaves him unable to use his hands to perform surgeries. He is crushed as someone who is often in control suddenly has no control as he pushes away those who care about him and becomes desperate to fix himself until hears the story of a man who is paralyzed with no chance to walk again suddenly walking again.
It leads to Strange to go to a small town near Kathmandu, Nepal as he learns about what the Ancient One does where he goes there to fix his hands but ends up getting something more. Especially in what the Ancient One and another sorcerer in Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) would teach him as he wouldn’t just travel to worlds instantly but also learn about parallel worlds as he would be able to go against Kaecilius and his troops. The script does succeed in fleshing out Strange, the Ancient One, Mordo, and Kaecilius as well as a librarian in Wong (Benedict Wong) though another character in Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams) is somewhat underwritten as plays a love-interest of sorts for Strange.
Scott Derrickson’s direction is definitely stylish for the way it plays into the usage of the spiritual world. While it’s shot on several locations including New York City, London, Hong Kong, Kathmandu, and parts of Los Angeles. It does play into a world that is quite unique where it has aspects that are definitely from the world of psychedelic culture of the 1960s in terms of the imagery of how the dimensions would mesh up in the world and such as if planet Earth is a labyrinth for these sorcerers. While Derrickson would use a lot of wide shots for these massive moments involving vast visual effects along with some medium shots. There would be moments that are intimate as it relates to Strange’s life as a surgeon as well as going into lessons to learn how to transport into other worlds and use his powers. The direction also play into elements that are quite intense as it relates to some of the action including the first face-off between Strange and Kaecilius.
The direction also has Derrickson provide some humor in the way Strange would use his powers such as a way he would get books at a library as well as some of the way Strange is as a person as he is an asshole. There are also moments that are quite dramatic as it play into Strange’s development as well as the realization of his role in the world. Notably as well as the kind of power that Kaecilius uses and why the Ancient One has been hiding it as it play into some of the uneasy decisions people have to do for good. The film’s climax isn’t just about the powers that Strange has become accustomed to but also what he has to do to confront Kaecilius and the mystical figure he believes will give him eternal life. Overall, Derrickson creates an exhilarating and whimsical film about a man who learns what it takes to save the universe and be grateful for what he has.
Cinematographer Ben Davis does excellent work with the film‘s cinematography from the usage of filters and lights for some of the scenes at night as well as the way some of the daytime interiors are lit. Editors Wyatt Smith and Sabrina Plisco do brilliant work with the editing as it is very stylish with some jump-cuts as well as some rhythmic cuts for the action and comedic moments in the film. Production designer Charles Wood, with supervising art directors Ray Chan and Michael Manson as well as set decorators John Bush and Laura Gaffin, does fantastic work with the look of the libraries for the sorcerers as well as Strange‘s home in New York City and at the hospital where he works. Costume designer Alexandra Byrne does nice work with the costumes from the clothes of the Ancient One and the other sorcerers as well as the clothes of Strange when he embraces his role including the red cape that has a mind of its own.
Hair/makeup designer Jeremy Woodhead does terrific work with the makeup from the way Kaecilius looks when he embraces the dark spell as well as the look of the Ancient One. Visual effects supervisors Richard Bluff and Stephane Ceretti do amazing work with the visual effects from the look of the way the powers are presented including the way the cities becomes twisted and shaped by the sorcerers as well as the dark world that Kaecilius wants to present. Sound designers Nia Hansen and David C. Hughes, with sound editors Daniel Laurie and Shannon Mills, do superb work with the sound as it play into some of the sound effects that occur as well as in the intense moments for action and suspense. The film’s music by Michael Giacchino is remarkable for its sweeping and playful orchestral score that also feature some low-key somber moments for the drama as well as some moments that are just fun while music supervisor Dave Jordan creates a very fun soundtrack that features music from Chuck Mangione, Earth, Wind, & Fire, Beyonce, and Pink Floyd.
The casting by Sarah Finn and Reg Poerscout-Edgerton is marvelous as it features some notable small appearances from the trio of Zara Phythian, Alaa Safi, and Katrina Durden as Kaecilius’ zealots, Benjamin Bratt as a once-paraplegic man who learned to heal himself through the teachings of the Ancient One in Jonathan Pangborn, Scott Adkins as another of Kaecilius’ zealot in Lucian, and Michael Stuhlbarg as a rival surgeon of Strange in Nicodemus West. Rachel McAdams is terrific as Christine Palmer where despite being under-written and not given much to do other than be frustrated and later confused by Strange’s powers does have her moments where she does bring something to the story. Benedict Wong is superb as Wong as a master of ancient relics who is also the librarian who protects all of the books as he is someone that doesn’t have much of a sense of humor but it is still a fun character to watch.
Mads Mikkelsen is excellent as Kaecilius as a sorcerer who is a former student of the Ancient One that craves eternal life as he has some big revelations of what some will do to keep themselves from aging as Mikkelsen is quite fun to watch. Chiwetel Ejiofor is fantastic as Karl Mordo as a master sorcerer who would teach Strange how to use some of his powers as well as reveal what it takes to be a powerful sorcerer as well as try to maintain some morality about the ways of the world. Tilda Swinton is brilliant as the Ancient One as a powerful and wise sorcerer that teaches Strange the means to be meaningful as well as realize his potential to do something good while also admitting to things that she had to do for the good of the world. Finally, there’s Benedict Cumberbatch in an incredible performance as the titular character as a man of arrogance and great skill who becomes desperate to find a way to heal where he learns about the mystic arts as he brings some charisma as well as some humility as it’s one of Cumberbatch’s finest performances to date.
Doctor Strange is a sensational film from Scott Derrickson that features great performances from Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Mads Mikkelsen. Along with dazzling visual effects, a top-notch score, and a fascinating premise, it’s a superhero origin film that has something different to offer but also be very entertaining for those unfamiliar with the character. In the end, Doctor Strange is a phenomenal film from Scott Derrickson.
Marvel Phase One Films: Iron Man - The Incredible Hulk - Iron Man 2 - Thor - Captain America: The First Avenger - The Avengers
Marvel Phase Two Films: Iron Man 3 - Thor: The Dark World - Captain America: The Winter Soldier - Guardians of the Galaxy - The Avengers: Age of Ultron - Ant-Man
Marvel Phase Three Films: Captain America: Civil War - Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 - Spider-Man: Homecoming - (Thor: Ragnarok) - (Black Panther) - (The Avengers: Infinity War Pt. 1) - (Ant-Man & the Wasp) - (Captain Marvel) - (The Avengers: Infinity War Pt. 2)
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