The Wheel and Axle

A Strange Doctor

by on Oct.30, 2016, under Film & TV, Geeky

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Doctor Strange is the best Marvel movie since Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

I know it seems anathema to think Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man, Captain America: Civil War (i.e. Avengers 2.5, let’s not pretened), and the much-revered Guardians of the Galaxy aren’t as good as the general populace would opine. However, while I did like all these latest films and think they’re good enough, I also feel they’re over-rated – especially Guardians. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has become fairly one-note, and in my opinion they’re dragging the entire arc much longer than they should be doing. The formula has become repetitive.

Not so with Doctor Strange, and I feel the film is the one that has finally breathed fresh air into the MCU and not Guardians of the Galaxy.

Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch, who really looks like a cat, among other things) is an arrogrant and over-achieving successful neurosurgeon who gets into a car accident that leaves his hands useless, effectively ending the medical career he has worked so hard to build. Failing to get his hands healed and shunning his own friends such as Dr. Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams), he finds his way to Kamar-Taj, the home of mystic practitioners slash sorcerers led by The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton). There, he learns to develop his own mystical powers and contain his own ego, all with the help of Master Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and tome-keeper Wong (Benedict Wong).

At the same time, a group of rebellious sorcerers led by Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) tries to summon the Dark Dimension, where the evil entity Dormammu resides. They seek to engulf the Earth with this dimension where time does not exist, allowing everyone to live forever. Caught in the conspiracy, Dr. Strange ascends to his sorcerous power in order to stop the destruction of our realm. He finally faces Dormammu in a cleverly-orchestrated climax that pits the neophyte sorcerer’s wits against an all-powerful larger-than-life entity.

Perhaps what makes Doctor Strange work is that we finally get to see the mystical side of the MCU, which has so far been largely too “science-based” a reality; even Thor‘s Asgardians are generally regarded as very advanced aliens that had been treated as gods. Not so with Doctor Strange, which fully embraces magic as a reality of the diverse Marvel Universe and which thus gives the entire franchise new dimensions (no pun intended) to explore and play with.

Additionally, although the movie is intrinsically linked to the over-arching Thanos / Infinity Gauntlet plot coursing through the entire MCU by virtue of the presence of the Time Gem, it virtually stands alone and apart, able to carry its own tale without being bogged down by the ever-increasing crossovers and plots that the MCU has grown into.

The cast is, of course, top notch. What else can you really say about the trio of acclaimed award winners Cumberbatch, Swinton, and Ejiofor? Mind you, I still disagree with changing The Ancient One from an Asian man to a Celtic woman (offensive stereotypes can be avoided with a well-written script), but Tilda Swinton always does whatever role she’s given justice.

Me and Beij, with Norlan at the back. Comfy!

As for the special effects, well, all I can say is: mind-boggling. I watched this in Uptown Mall’s VIP Cinema (Lazyboy reclining leather seats, unlimited popcorn and drinks), and it wasn’t 3D, but it was still amazing. Not to mention comfortable as heck.

I’ll be watching it again tonight, this time on IMAX, because I absolutely need to experience how much more fantastic these visual effects could be on a big-ass screen.

Over-all, I highly recommend this film. If you’re in the Philippines or any of the countries that this has opened in, catch this movie now, preferably in 3D (or even in 4D)! Enjoy long Halloween weekend with some magic!

The film will open in the USA and some other markets later this week, on November 4th.

My Rating: 9 out of 10 Stars

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Michael Stuhlbarg, Benjamin Bratt, Scott Adkins, Mads Mikkelsen, and Tilda Swinton

Directed By: Scott Derrickson

By the Eye of Agamotto! Look at whom I encountered at the cinema lobby!


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