I love movies. I love writing about them. Hope you like reading what I write.
While Phase One of Marvel’s MCU is still for some reason something I haven’t watched (I’ve been working my way through my “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die” book, so you’ll forgive me). However, thanks to the internet being pretty much a spoiler-filled Pandora’s Box, I give myself licence to watch one of the latest ones.
Doctor Strange stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange, a Brain Surgeon whose career is brought to a screeching halt when he crashes his car and loses the use of his hands. He goes to India, and there learns the mystic arts and discovers his ability to kick major butt.
Marvel’s track record has been pretty solid so far, or at least since they started making their own movies. The only complaint thus far has been the relative sameness of some of their stuff.
O in this we see a slight deviation from the tried and true “Sci-Fi” of most of their roster and decided to go to science-fantasy.
They try to pull this off by having the characters explain it all through vague conversations about dimensions.
The fact is, however, as they say in the film, “it doesn’t have to make sense”. What matters is how well it makes sense cinematically and boy does it work.
When a character moves their hands for an incantation in a certain way, the spell feels like its something that came out of that action. Everything follows the rules of the film. That’s good sci-fantasy filmmaking.
In fact, I’d say you could probably make a course on good fantasy filmmaking through this film. Everything this movie does is a reason why it’s better than The Matrix, another film with a similar plot dynamic.
Are the characters likeable? Does the humour land? Does it make sense? Are the stakes noticeable? Is there some damn humanity? All yes for Dr Strange. For The Matrix, not so much.
An ideas film like The Matrix is only as good as its ideas and the story it uses to convey them, otherwise, nothing gets done. Sorry, just got distracted. I genuinely don’t like The Matrix.
Another thing Dr Strange nails is the conflict. The brilliant Mads Mikkelsen is the main baddy (technically the main henchman of the main baddy, but doing most of the evil).
For once a supervillain’s plan isn’t “Kill a bunch of people to save the planet”, an idea I’ve heard so many times in films that the next time I hear it in a theatre, they’ll have to put a straight-jacket on me to stop me from hurting someone. Mads’ character’s plan actually makes sense and when he explains it, for once you believe he has a point. Plus Mikkelsen makes every film better or his presence.
The way ol’ Cumberbatch tries to fight him is also excellently done. He uses his wits alongside his brawn so we always know where we are in the battles unlike in some films I can name where the order is fight, fight, fight.
Benedict is in full Sherlock mode here, although he’s somehow more vulnerable in this and is a lot less rude. He does an American accent which threw me for a bit, but over time I got used to it.
With all that analytical stuff, how did the whole experience work with me?
Well. Really, really well. Doctor Strange is probably the most visually spectacular CGI-Based blockbuster I’ve seen since District 9. Some of the stuff here is so cool that I can barely describe it. And unlike Miss Peregrine, it’s not a surface cool. Maybe that’s the biggest lesson for this year in movies.
It’s taken them decades to get a Dr Strange film made. They finally did it, and it’s brilliantly cool. So very cool.
Recommended Scenario: If you’d like a big-screen, action version of Doctor Who.