Doctor Strange is a brilliant, but arrogant, neurosurgeon. He also must earn a fortune since he has a drawer full of rotating watches – yes, individually rotating, for no apparent reason, and presumably still continue to rotate once the drawer is closed! That’s crazy-extravagant!
I generally know little about most Marvel characters – and DC, for that matter – before seeing one of their first films, as I’m not into the comic books, but I know even less about this one. I do know that it stars Benedict Cumberbatch. Or BenCum, as I like to call him.
As with any Marvel movie, there’s a bad guy, and this time Casino Royale‘s Mads Mikkelsen has stepped into the ring as Kaecilius (although from the way it’s pronounced, I thought it began ‘Thi’). He was seemingly constantly accompanied by two other right-hand men (or women), so for me, he effectively became Superman II‘s General Zod, but with a lot more powers, which includes making buildings fold in on themselves, beginning in London.
However, his arrogance gets the better of him early on, as his bad driving shows he needs to retake his test when it results in a horrendous car accident. His arrogance also makes him angry (almost as much as the hulk) as he wants to get back to the day job. All his career, he’s only taken on patients he can heal – leading to a 100% success rate in his field, but now, with a knackered body, he needs help himself.
This leads to a trip to Katmandu, in Nepal, to see The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) as he understands her teachings are the answer, but first, her right-hand man Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) tells him to “forget everything you think you know” Woooooooo!!
In addition, sorcerors look after the sanctums which exist in New York, Hong Kong and London, so that gives the film an excuse to go globetrotting. There’s also a rather cold location we see, although I doubt very much that was real. In fact, I’m not sure the crew actually went to Hong Kong, but anyway.
Beyond that, while I didn’t really understand a lot of what was going on, there’s a lot of flashy visuals based around astral projection, which felt like a cross between later scenes in Contact, as well as 2001; there’s a mention of a multiverse, but no Brian and Stewie (from Family Guy, for non-afficianados of that show), plus a hell of a lot of laughs in this, mostly subtle small ones, but a few big laughs.
It keeps itself rooted in modern pop culture so, for example, when Doctor Strange goes to visit the librarian played by Benedict Wong, he’s told his name is simply ‘Wong’. “Just Wong?? Like… Adele??!” BenCum shows he can put on a comedic turn on many occasions.
And as I am a newbie to Doctor Strange, so is the Doctor to his situation, so it worked out better for me than most Marvel set-ups.
A quick update on my end credit adventures. I’ve now learned that the lighting that glares out during the end credits, obliterating the screen so you can’t read them, is a level set by head office, and can’t be changed by them. Hence, I’m going to try and get in touch with them about it. As I’ve stated previously, the level of lighting during the pre-film trailers is fine, and still allows people to move about without tripping over, and also doesn’t affect the screen, but why it whacks up to full brightness during the closing credits, I’ve no idea, but it’s immensely distracting.
BTW, if you’re seeing this film in its opening week, don’t forget that it’s half-term for kids, so while it was quiet when I went to an 11.30am screening, I came out around 1.30pm to find the place absolutely rammed. So get there early, and while the previous couple of films I’ve seen here (The Magnificent Seven and Deepwater Horizon) both omitted trailers, there’s another hitch at the moment where the adverts aren’t coming through either, so make sure you’re there for the start time, as it will start straight away! (this is good news for cinema-goers!)
Doctor Strange is showing in 3D and 2D. I saw it in 2D and while the astral projection visuals would’ve looked good in 3D, it’s only one scene and the film, itself, wasn’t actually made in 3D – as always, the films from Marvel Studios are a post-conversion job. You’d think they’d pay the extra dosh and shoot it in 3D, since they’re making a very pretty penny out of this franchise.
And as I said, there’s a lot of laughs, and this film shows that Marvel realise that FUN is possible! So why was Captain America: Civil War so slow and ponderous? Oh, and this is just under 2hrs, even for an origin story, so two-and-a-half hours is never required.
There’s also a mid- and a post-end credit scene. If you really want to know in advance, then I’ve put a few bits in the spoiler section…
Doctor Strange is not yet available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD, but you can buy the a number of Doctor Strange-related Blu-rays and DVD. Also, click on the poster for the full-size version.
Running time: 115 minutes
Studio: Marvel Studios
Cinema: Vue, Lowry, Salford Quays
Format: 2.35:1 (ARRIRAW (3.4K) (6.5K); Super 35 (some scenes) / 1.90:1 (IMAX version: some scenes))
Released: October 25th 2016
Director: Scott Derrickson
Producer: Kevin Feige
Screenplay: Jon Spaihts, Scott Derrickson and C Robert Cargill (based on the comic book by Steve Ditko)
Music: Michael Giacchino
Dr. Stephen Strange: Benedict Cumberbatch
Mordo: Chiwetel Ejiofor
Christine Palmer: Rachel McAdams
Wong: Benedict Wong
Kaecilius: Mads Mikkelsen
The Ancient One: Tilda Swinton
Dr. Nicodemus West: Michael Stuhlbarg
Jonathan Pangborn: Benjamin Bratt
Lucian / Strong Zealot: Scott Adkins
Brunette Zealot: Zara Phythian
Tall Zealot: Alaa Safi
Blonde Zealot: Katrina Durden
Hamir: Topo Wresniwiro
Sol Rama: Umit Ulgen
Tina Minoru: Linda Louise Duan
Daniel Drumm: Mark Anthony Brighton
Dr. Patel: Meera Syal
Dr. Bruner: Amy Landecker
Nurse Billy: Adam Pelta-Pauls
Dr. Garrison: Sarah Malin
Dr. Weiss: Eben Young
Physical Therapist: Kobna Holdbrook-Smith
Concerned Doctor: Elizabeth Healey
Reluctant Surgeon: Guillaume Faure
Mugger: Daniel Dow
Kamar-Taj Librarian: Ezra Khan
Bullet Patient’s Wife: Kimberly Van Luin
Himself: Pat Kiernan
Thor: Chris Hemsworth (uncredited)
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.