Time/place: 7:05pm showing at Krikorian with Sydney and Korkie
The Marvel universe is a fun playground wherein a man in a mechanical suit, a super soldier, a tragic scientist plagued by an internal monster, and a whole slew of others run around together and entertain us. Doctor Strange, though it comes very late in the game, is not only a fairly small character piece but also introduces a very new and exciting element to this collective world of movies — magic.
In other Marvel tales we have seen aliens pull off tricky trickery and watched unnatural enhancements create sorcery, but in Strange we are invited into a world of normal human beings who are able to conjure magic simply by accessing the power of other dimensions. And that’s about as scientific as this movie’s explanation of its magical powers gets. It’s a movie filled with true sorcery… ancient artifacts imbued with magic, tomes of spells — and all it takes to conjure these powers is study and practice. Of course, there are also some very exciting details of this magic which allow Doctor Strange to bring some fantastical elements and storyline-potential to future Marvel movies, but you’ll have to see the movie to find out about all that… or just read the spoiler section below ;).
Benedict Cumberbatch plays the titular Stephen Strange- [“Ahem, it’s Dr Strange.”] Ah, yes, Dr. Strange. Sorry. Anyways, Cumberbatch plays Strange wonderfully. The character has a very strong arc throughout the story, but what really made it fun to watch is that he also impacts those around him and it is hardly a straight progression. Of all of the bigger character arcs in the Marvel world, Strange’s feels the most natural, and I very much enjoyed seeing him develop not only his spectacular skills but also his spiritual well-being. While the humor in the movie was a little too big and broad a lot of the time (I did get several chuckles, though), the emotional undertones were much more subtle. The villain has motivations that are mentioned but never dwelt on in a strong-handed manner. Strange has at least a couple of great character moments that play through visually. Really, the whole movie enjoys making great use of the fact that film is a visual medium, and I appreciated that part of that was aimed at the character development.
Of course, it also all looked really neat-o, too :).
Doctor Strange is easily the trippiest Marvel movie, yet, as it deals with the bending of reality and even features one heck of a hilarious and insane seemingly-LSD-inspired trip. Adding to the bizarre nature is the score, which I leaned over to my viewing partners during the end credits and commented on, asking, “What the heck IS this score??” It’s absolutely brilliant, but it’s not exactly par-the-course. Not much in this movie is, though ;).
I was actually really impressed by how much the element of faith plays out in this story, as well. For a universe that has been so much about courage, abilities, and technical prowess, the simple fact that our character succeeds by embracing humility and having faith… well, that’s a new one for Marvel movies :).
I’ll go on about the movie in more detail below, where I can safely spoil story elements for those who have seen it or don’t care, but while this movie wasn’t perfect it DID create an atmosphere in which I walked out of the theater walking lightly on my feet as I hummed the music, wanting nothing more than to be able to wave my fingers around and create magic. More than any of the other Marvel movies so far, this one left me brimming with the desire to play and pretend I was a superhero — and there are few things more magical than that!
Doctor Strange is just another Marvel movie, sure, but it is also fresh, interesting, touching, and a real visual treat. The humor elements can be hit or miss, but the overall tone treads the line of serious and light very well. I am very excited to welcome Strange to our Marvel world, and I can’t wait to see what happens next!
WARNING: There be spoilers below!
Magic. Time. The multiverse. Doctor Strange’s arrival in this Marvel world would be fascinating enough, even if the movie was lousy, because bringing these elements into the overall storyline is so ripe with possibility! Could we return old villains? You bet! Could we create story schisms and branch off into other possibilities that prior movies weren’t able to address? Yep :). When I excitedly gushed at the end of the movie about how great having real magic in the world was, KB somewhat begrudgingly mentioned that now absolutely anything was possible… but by golly, I think they’ve earned that by now! We’ve dealt with a Marvel world of technology and sci-fi (even when it’s weird and fantastical), but we’ve now really entered the realm of the mystical, and I think that could be a lot of fun.
That cloak! I was NOT expecting the coat to be sentient and hilarious/adorable, but my goodness was that a supremely pleasant surprise. Just as Tony Stark had Jarvis, I love that Doctor Strange has his own “buddy” with him all of the time. And other than the mid-credit scene, I really liked that it was such a standalone story. No other Marvel characters pop up, and the Avengers are only referenced once.
Speaking of the mid-credit scene, it is actually one of my favorite parts of the movie, because it’s such a great bit of character for Strange. He is now the magical protector of New York/The U.S./Earth, and I can’t express how big of a kick I got out of seeing him in this final form — he knows who he is, what he can do, he is quiet and certain, and by golly I love that it means I likely get to see him again really soon in the next Thor!