Review – Doctor Strange (2016)

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doctor-strange-570e606976e6eI’m seriously wondering if Marvel will ever lose their momentum. They are probably the biggest and most successful superhero franchise/universe that I’ve personally ever seen. They’ve done great work over the years, and have done especially well for their more unknown and risky stories. While DC struggles to find their footing with the darkest superhero movies you’ve ever seen, Marvel continues to keep it lighthearted, with Doctor Strange.

“Marvel’s “Doctor Strange” follows the story of the talented neurosurgeon Doctor Stephen Strange who, after a tragic car accident, must put ego aside and learn the secrets of a hidden world of mysticism and alternate dimensions. Based in New York City’s Greenwich Village, Doctor Strange must act as an intermediary between the real world and what lies beyond, utilising a vast array of metaphysical abilities and artifacts to protect the Marvel Cinematic Universe.” Written by Marvel (IMDb)

PEOPLE
★★★★★★★★★★

 

This category is all about the people in the film. This covers their acting ability, if the characters themselves are any good, if they work well together as a team, if they are deeper or flatter as characters, and if the casting director even did their job right. These are all very important issues to consider while reviewing film.
  1.  Acting: ★★
    • No matter if you’re a big fan of Benedict Cumberbatch or not (if you’re not, you’re a psychopath, you can’t help but notice that he does the job, and he does the job well. He consistently plays genius roles, thanks to his role as the famous detective, Sherlock Holmes, which helps the entire idea that maybe, perhaps, he really is a genius in disguise. Apart from Cumberbatch, we also had some surprisingly good acting skills from Tilda Swinton and Mads Mikkelsen – which I was worried about before seeing.
  2. Characters: ★★
    • Here’s where Marvel comes into play with their greatness. They seek out the weirdest characters, rather than the usual favorites, and they constantly take risks by making these movies about characters that non-comic readers don’t have much knowledge on. Well, as it turns out, risk transforms into reward here, as it often does…because these characters are among my favorite out of the entire series.
  3. Good Casting: ★★
    • Just because the actors are great at what they do doesn’t mean they were the right ones to pick. If you recall, there was a lot of white-washing rumors going around with this movie, especially with choosing Swinton to play the ancient one, which is both a gender and ethnicity swap. As I’ll often say in my reviews, though, I don’t care too deeply about the source material, as long as the story told is good and makes sense. Personally, I loved the casting choice and wouldn’t have it any other way, so that’s why this subcategory gets full points.
  4.  Good Importance: ★★
    • This is a pretty huge world that this movie introduced, one that’s potentially endless…maybe even the start of something new. Because of that potential, each character in this film had a role to play, and contributed greatly to the outcome of the film. So, yes, they were all very important and not flat. If you could call any character flat, it would probably be Rachel McAdams, but her importance was still pretty substantial…so I can’t take away points from her.
  5.  Good chemistry: ★★
    • Both the characters and actors in this film did a beautiful job working together, using each other to help push that limit of humor or seriousness out. In my opinion, it made a mark, and is hard to deny that the chemistry was most certainly there.

WRITING
★★★★★★★★★☆

 

This category obviously covers the writing aspect of the critique. First, you want to know a little bit about the script. Specifically, how is the dialogue? Are they saying anything memorable or inspirational…or was it just bland conversation to keep the story going? How was the story itself? Was it well-balanced or over-convoluted? Was it original? Was it even interesting? Once again, all very important questions
  1.  Dialogue: ★★
    • The dialogue in this film, as with many Marvel films, was witty, sarcastic, humorous, and sometimes deep. The dialogue alone provides a good amount of emotions from the audience, which is why I consider this perfect, as well.
  2.  Good Balance: ★☆
    • One problem Marvel often has is trying to be a little TOO ambitious with what they do. A movie like this may look visually stunning, but if you aren’t paying close attention from the beginning, and if you start blinking at the wrong time, you might miss something big, and the rest might seem a little too trippy or confusing. I wouldn’t say it was over-convoluted, but there are moments where an audience just can’t miss. So, for that reason, I have this one star.
  3.  Good Story: ★★
    • Yes, it’s memorable, unique, and unbelievable, but it’s so much more than that. It’s fantastic in every way. This story introduces a paranormal/spiritual theory that has been around forever. A topic that I myself have researched and read into (probably more than I ever should have). This is the first time I’ve ever seen a movie run head-on with the concept, so I’m definitely looking forward to seeing more!
  4.  Original: ★ ★
    • It’s completely original. The closest movie I can possibly think of to this film…is maybe Harry Potter? This is somewhat similar to wizardry and magic, but it’s more spiritual and mystical, which is slightly different. As I said before, it was a pretty big risk making this movie, and I do believe its the originality and creativeness that pulled it through.
  5.  Interesting: ★★
    • Please. I was interested from the trailers, and I was never let down. So, YES, it’s interesting.

BEHIND-THE-SCENES
★★★★★★★★★★

 

Never forget that there are hard-working individuals working on this film day in and day out. It’s a great story, yes, but people helped make that possible. People like the directors, who have to take written word on a script, and somehow translate that for the big screen in a way an audience would understand. Editors, who are given a ton of material and expected to further make that idea and image the director has already – into a reality, like the director of photography, whose job is to make this movie look amazing…whether that means natural settings and landscapes, CGI, 3D, technical effects, or otherwise. The production crew, who are in charge of making advertisements that aren’t false, and don’t give too much away. Finally, the sound crew, who are in charge of everything the audio has – sound effects, sound editing, music, you name it. These are all puzzle pieces.
  1. Visuals: ★★
    • As we all know, the Academy Awards are coming up soon, and we all know other movies are sweeping the categories. For instance, La La Land is all over the Oscars this year. While many movie-lovers are expecting Emma Stone to win the Oscar for Best Lead Actress for her performance in La La Land, you might miss this nominee for Best Visual Effects. Trust me, if any of the nominees deserve that Oscar, it’s unquestionably Doctor Strange because this movie was probably the best film I’ve ever seen (when it came to the visuals). Whether you watch it in 2D, or as the obviously intended 3D, the visuals are out of this world.
  2.  Directing: ★★
    • Think about how impossible the movie is just to watch everything what’s going on. You know a lot of that has to do with green screens and specific camera angles that were thought of before any visual effects were put in. That takes tremendous foresight that only a true visionary could pull off. I was never not impressed with how the directing was pulled off.
  3.  Editing: ★★
    • If I’m not mistaken, the editing comes in after basic visual effects are created, so they have more of a clear idea of what to do, but that doesn’t mean it was any less impressive. There was some shots in that first half hour that I can’t even think about how I would edit that, personally…so absolutely. The editing was great.
  4.  Advertisement: ★★
    • As-advertised, no disappointments here. Remember what I said, it’s the trailers that excited me, and I wasn’t disappointed by anything. In fact, it met my expectations and then some. Good job here.
  5.  Music: ★★
    • The musical score in this film is really great. It’s one of those rare soundtracks where I’d like to hear it again apart from the film itself. So, yes. I’d consider buying this score.

NARRATIVE ARC
★★★★★★★★★★

 

Have you ever been left wondering what it was about a film that felt…off, but you couldn’t place what it was? Well, a lot of people actually aren’t educated on the traditional narrative arc structure – which is seen in almost every movie or book story. With a missing piece, you might not understand what feels missing.
  1.  Introduction: ★★
    • The introduction introduced us to every main character and most secondary characters, their importance, and a little foreshadowing in the beginning, to tie us to our seats.
  2.  Inciting Incident/Crossing the Threshold: ★★
    • The inciting incident is when Doctor Strange ruins his hands, the crossing of the threshold happens when he seeks out the ancient one and begins learning magic and spiritual healing.
  3.  Obstacles: ★★
    • There are plenty of good vs. evil moments here, plenty of hard obstacles that the heroes must get through to get to the climax.
  4.  Epiphany/Climax: ★★
    • The epiphany and climax is something really interesting, and not something I’ve ever seen before, but it definitely is pretty darn obvious and pretty darn epic, at that.
  5.  Falling Action: ★★
    • The return to the new norm was definitely there, and as always, continues on into the credit.

OVERALL ENTERTAINMENT
★★★★★★★★★★

 

Here’s something most critics overlook, because they’re always so keyed in on critiquing the technical elements of a film. Well, that may be statistically accurate, but the numbers that are released aren’t always reflective of what we enjoyed about it…which is when we say the movie was under-appreciated or whatever. This category focuses on pure entertainment.
  1.  Rewatchability: ★★
    • Well, I’ve already re-watched it, and even though it’s only been a few short months, I thought that was far too long! I wanted to watch this the second I got out of it the first time.
  2.  Fun: ★★
    • Yeah, I had a big wide smile across my face throughout the movie. This is some fun, trippy, and exciting stuff.
  3.  Impulse to buy it:
    • Usually, with the MCU, I do want to buy every film, and this is one I’d want to own over all the others. I’d buy multiple versions of this movie, toys from the movie, the soundtrack, books, etc. The entirety of this film pulled me in, in every possible way.
  4.  Impulse to talk to someone about it:
    • I saw this film alone, and I wanted nothing more than to talk to someone about how great it was, and I couldn’t…that is a depressing feeling, and we’ve all had it. So, if you’re going to see this movie, make sure you take someone with you, so you can have a good long discussion about it afterwards.
  5.  Sucks the audience in: ★★
    • In almost a literal sense, if you watch in 3D…holy crap. I’ve never felt so immersed and sucked into a movie in all my life.

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SPECIALTY QUESTIONS

 

These are special questions written by you before seeing the movie, based on expectations, questions, stereotypes, you name it. If it’s a Tom Cruise movie, have Cruise-isms, if it’s a horror film, ask how scary it is, if it’s a sequel, ask if it fits in with the universe or if it was even needed to begin with, you catch the drift.

Does it still hold up?
★★★★★★★★★★

Specialty Question #1

 

The first specialty question is “Does it still hold up”? Well, again, it hasn’t been long since I first saw it, but sometimes your first viewing is affected by your prior expectations. The second viewing is usually when you can just have a good time with it, and I’ve found that it still holds up exactly as well as it did when I first saw it. So, the answer is yes.

MCU CONNECTIONS
★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

SPECIALTY QUESTION #2

 

The second question has to do with “MCU Connections”. This is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and as such…does it feel like it? Yes and no. The structure and sense of humor is absolute, but I can’t really say this is superheroes, because…it’s really not. This is mystics, magic, wizardry and otherwise. You wouldn’t call Harry Potter a superhero, but he does battle good and evil…so for that reason, the slight weirdness and difference it holds stops it from really feeling like pure MCU material.

THOUGHT-PROVOKING
★★★★★★★★★★

SPECIALTY QUESTION #3

 

The third specialty question is “Thought-provoking?”. For me, it absolutely is. I know for most people it probably isn’t, it’s just a fun movie, but I’m a writer. When I used to write novels, I kept trying to write about astral projection as a concept, and I never could. It was just too big of an idea for me to really grasp, and they do it well here. So, maybe it is just what I thought, but I thought about it all night the first time I watched it.

SUPERHERO
★★★★★★★★★★

SPECIALTY QUESTION #4

 

This specialty question is about heroes, or superheroes. I know I touched on this a little bit ago, because I don’t really consider this a superhero movie. What I do consider it…is a movie that follows the superhero movie guidelines, like the good vs. evil concept, main characters, super villains…and that is all there…it’s just presented a little differently.

2D vs. 3D
★★★★★★★★★★

SPECIALTY QUESTION #5

 

The final specialty question has to deal with 2D vs. 3D. The first time I saw this movie, it was in 3D, the second time was in 2D. I was wondering how it would do in 2D, because the movie seemed to be made specifically for 3D. While I will say that it doesn’t match the impressiveness of 3D, 2D was still impressive in its own right, and still something really powerful and unforgettable. I consider 3D better, but 2D is certainly more than just watchable.

RATING: 94/100

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