Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Doctor Strange film review

Went to see this movie at the Leeds/Bradford Odeon with my husband, son and son's friend last night.

IMDB says: A former neurosurgeon embarks on a journey of healing only to be drawn into the world of the mystic arts

In this Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Deliver us from Evil) directed and written (with Jon Spaihts: Prometheus, Passengers and C. Robert Cargill: Sinister, Sinister 2) film, from the comic book character by Steve Ditko, Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, The Imitation Game) stars as Doctor Stephen Strange the brilliant but arrogant former neurosurgeon.

Rachel McAdams (Mean Girls, About Time) is his former girlfriend Christine Palmer, who finally tires of his wallowing cruelty following his accident that robs him of his surgeons hands.  By chance he hears of a former physiotherapy patient who walked again following a seemingly incurable back injury, so he decides to find out more.  This leads him to Jonathan Pangborn (Benjamin Bratt: Clear and Present Danger, Demolition Man) who tells him to seek Kamar-Taj and The Ancient One who can open his mind to unknown mysteries of the universe that could be the answer he is seeking.

Once there, Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor: 12 Years a Slave, Children of Men) takes him to The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton: The Chronicles of Narnia, We need to talk about Kevin) who can begin his magical education.  Strange's arrogance still has not left him though, so he distracts Wong (Benedict Wong: The Martian, Moon) from his post in the library and reads a forbidden text which leads him to the enemy, Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen: Casino Royale, Hannibal), and he must choose between his new life and his old.

This film had so much fantasy action it made the head spin.  Brilliant effects reminiscent of The Matrix and Inception, coupled with fantastic action and a good story.  It also had a believable villain (though a tad underused) and set pieces of fighting/imagery that pulled you into the fantasy world and didn't let go.

Cumberbatch was a strong lead and even though we felt he was channelling Dr House MD, his arrogance did not tip over into being unlikeable (a fine line Marvel treads well, e.g. Iron Man), therefore we really cared about his character.  The one liners that were trickled in really helped to ground the movie and the odd nod to the wider Marvel Universe never hurts.  Swinton was spot on as The Ancient One (despite fandoms having a problem with her casting when it was announced, I think she convinced as the powerful yet flawed mystic) and it was great to have a strong female lead that got so much screen time.  Sadly, the same could not be said for McAdams who though wasn't the romantic interest as such (Strange and Palmer had broken up), she did feel like a bit of a thinner character that the rest, which was a shame as she was clearly more than capable of just chemistry and laughs.  Ejiofor was also outstanding (again a casting against character like Swinton), as were Wong and Mikkelsen, who unfortunately also suffered from lack of screen time, ditto the rest of the henchmen, but these are small problems when you take the film as a whole. 

The real heart of the film is the dynamic between Cumberbatch and Swinton and the scenes where they are together, resonate and fill you with anticipation for how the rest of the Marvel Universe characters (Superheroes and Gods) might fare against, or teamed with, Strange.

A visual feast (which I am sure would only be enhanced watching it in 3D) and leaves me wanting more, roll on the Doctor Strange franchise.

There are two credit scenes, so be sure to stay right until the end and don't worry about keeping your eyes peeled for the Stan Lee cameo, it feels so crammed in it nearly takes you out of the action of the film.

Tagline: Question Reality.  Change your destiny.               Matrix meets Inception with House    9/10


IMDB 10 facts about Doctor Strange:

Stephen Vincent Strange first appeared in the July 1963 issue of the aptly titled Marvel Comics anthology "Strange Tales." Spawned from an idea by legend Steve Ditko, Doctor Strange started out as a "5-page filler," according to Stan Lee, and returned for subsequent issues before receiving his own origin story in December of 1963. 

Thanks to the influences that both Ditko and Lee infused in their creation of Doctor Strange — a heady mix of pulp-fiction magicians, Salvador Dalí paintings, and Eastern mysticism — the Doctor Strange comics are often credited with predicting the youth counterculture's movement of the late 1960s.  In 1986, Back to the Future co-writer Bob Gale penned a script for a Doctor Strange movie that never went into production.

Then, a few years before Scream became his signature franchise, Wes Craven signed on to write and direct the project, though those plans fizzled as well.

Fast forward to 2001, when David S. Goyer was going to write and direct. Then, in 2008, Guillermo del Toro ascended to the director's chair. Other directors who have come and gone include: Mark Andrews, Jonathan Levine, Nikolaj Arcel, and Dean Israelite.

The first live-action incarnation of Stephen Strange was played by Peter Hooten in the 1978 TV movie, Dr. Strange. Stan Lee served as a consultant on the project, which was intended as a pilot for a full-length series, but Dr. Strange ended up not getting picked up by CBS.

Benedict Cumberbatch was the first choice and was offered the lead role in the movie but initially had to decline due to his theatre commitments playing Shakespeare's Hamlet, which clashed with the film's proposed shooting date. Joaquin Phoenix was the studio's second choice for the lead role but Phoenix, after a few months of deliberation, eventually turned down the offer due to his reluctance to do a multi-picture deal that was required by the studio if he signed on.

Doctor Strange has been teased in earlier Marvel movies -Thor: The Orb of Agamotto, a crystal ball that Strange uses to detect magic, can be seen among the treasures in Odin's treasure chamber.

Thor: The Dark World: The Crossroads is among the various phrases written on Erik Selvig's (Stellan Skarsgård) chalkboard. The Crossroads is an other-dimensional reality that has a prominent role in the "Doctor Strange" comics.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier: Jasper Sitwell (Maximiliano Hernández) mentions Stephen Strange as one of the high-risk targets that HYDRA keeps under surveillance.

More than a few eyebrows were raised when Tilda Swinton was cast in the role of the Ancient One, the Sorcerer Supreme who acts as Strange's mentor. Did you know that Morgan Freeman, Ken Watanabe and Bill Nighy were also discussed for the role?

Steve Ditko and Stan Lee based Doctor Strange's his appearance on actor Vincent Price; the character even bears the middle name of Vincent. In 1963, the year Strange made his comics debut, Price played the supreme sorcerer Dr. Craven in The Raven for director Roger Corman.

Mads Mikkelsen is the third Hannibal Lecter actor to appear in a Marvel film; Brian Cox played William Stryker in X-Men 2, and of course Anthony Hopkins portrays Odin in the Thor movies.

To make it more interesting: Mikkelsen had been under consideration for the role of Stephen Strange back in 2013.

Comic fans are well aware of the relationship between Strange and the Scarlet Witch. The powerful, hex-throwing mutant, who is also known as Wanda Maximoff (and played by Elizabeth Olsen in the movies), becomes Strange's apprentice in the MCU's print universe. This has certain fans prepped for a Scarlet Witch appearance in the Doctor Strange, or a potential meet-up between teacher and student in Avengers: Infinity War.

Trivia: Before becoming the Sorcerer Supreme, Stephen Strange received training at an Eastern monastery. Benedict Cumberbatch spent his gap year volunteering as an English teacher at a Buddhist monastery in Darjeeling, India. He had stated that the experience was very profound and influential on his life, and sought to draw from this experience in preparing for the role.While filming, Benedict Cumberbatch walked into a comicbook store (in costume) and bought an actual Doctor Strange comic. Doctor Strange is given the wi-fi password of "Shamballa". This is a homage to the famous Doctor Strange storyline "Into Shamballa".

#DoctorStrange  #BenedictCumberbatch  #TildaSwinton  #ChiwetelEijofor  #RachelMcAdams  #Odeon

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