HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Dr. Strange
HTS Overall Score:88
I’m really starting to like the “secondary” Marvel movies much more than the main films. Don’t get me wrong, I love the original “Iron Man”, and “Captain America: Winter Soldier”, but the rest have just been “good”, but not great. On the other hand, all the lesser known characters, or ones that aren’t intrinsically involved in EVERY OTHER Marvel film, have all blown me away. “Ant Man” was a blast, and “Guardians of the Galaxy” actually shocked everyone by being one of the best movies of the entire franchise. Now comes along “Doctor Strange”, a film that had me initially very excited, but also very nervous. Nervous because this was the first time that real MAGIC had been introduced into the Marvel universe (sure we can see some pretty fantastical stuff with “Thor” and “Avengers” super powered infinity stones, but not true MAGIC). Luckily, I was completely blown away by how fun and energetic the film was, and it ended up ranking as my tied for second place in my Marvel hierarchy.
Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a gifted, but incredibly arrogant, neurosurgeon who suffers the ultimate fall from grace. On his way to a party he gets distracted and nosedives his car off of a cliff and ends up DESTROYING his hands in the resulting crash. The very things that guaranteed him fame, fortune and his own pride had just been stripped of him. Now everything in his life tasted like bitter ash. He drives away co-worker (and ex-lover) Dr. Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams) in the search for a restoration for his nerve damaged hands, but all he finds is emptiness and more despair. That is until he runs across the file of a man (played by Benjamin Bratt) who had suffered a severe accident like his and now is walking around normally. This man sends him to Nepal, where will look for the place that helped him.
Upon arriving Doctor Strange is welcomed to someone known as the “Ancient One” (played by Tilda Swinton) where he soon has hopes of medical knowledge giving him a cure in the first 30 seconds. There if finds that there are other powers at play. Powers that can give him abilities he never dreamed of, and maybe even cure his hands. However, this is a Marvel movie, and a simple healing story is not what we expected. At the temple of the sorcerers, Strange soon becomes sucked into a civil between the Ancient One and an ex student named Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelson) who desires to tap into the mysterious Dark Dimension. A war that soon may sweep across the entire Earth is Kaecilius has his way.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=91962[/img]At its core “Doctor Strange” is your basic origins story. A narcissistic and arrogant fool has everything taken away from him and is destroyed down to his core being before being built back up into a hero (kind of like what the military does to you I have to say). Stephen Strange is the epitome of the guy that you love to LOATHE at the beginning of the movie. He’s arrogant, egotistical to the extreme and has tons of a money. Even after his money and his livelihood are taken away from him he is STILL an egomaniac. Even after learning much from the Ancient One his arrogance is still a core part of his being. It’s not until he is faced with decisions and actions that he has no answer for does her learn to think outside of himself and actually grow. The movie is a bit reminiscent of Nolan’s “Batman Begins” in regards to that tearing down and rebuilding back up (just without an evil Ras a Ghul as his teacher), and the character arcs benefit from that finely tuned storytelling.
The big benefit of the film comes from the smart complement of actors that Marvel/Disney pulled in. Benedict Cumberbatch is absolutely fantastic as Strange (something I wasn’t sure about at first), and Mads Mikkelsen does the impossible. He actually makes a Marvel villain a fully fleshed out character. I love me some Marvel super hero films, but they have ALWAYS had a problem with their movies sporting really weak villains that you just gloss over. Kaecilius isn’t as complex as say, Magneto or the like, but he is leagues better than any of the villains in the “Avengers” lineup except for maybe Loki. He can exude a sort of calm maniacal nature that is deliciously energetic, and creepy at the same time. Rachel McAdams sadly didn’t get a WHOLE lot of screen time, but she does well as the future Mrs. Strange with what she was given, and I was even surprised at Tilda Swinton, and not because I don’t Like her as an actress. A lot of people were turned off to the fact that the Ancient One was changed from an Asian man to a white as could be women and moaned a lot about white washing the character. I can’t speak for most people, but they tweaked her character enough that it wasn’t obvious or necessary that she be Asian (unless you’re a stickler for the comics) and Swinton did a fantastic job with role of the Sorceress Supreme.
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi violence and action throughout, and an intense crash sequence
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=91970[/img]“Doctor Strange” is a great looking image, but it is slightly different than the rest of the Marvel universe films. The Marvel films usually employ lots of shiny colors, and brilliantly lit sequences, but “Strange” is a film that, much like the sorcerers that it is about, stays mainly in the shadows. Dim lighting and ancient mystical fortresses keep a dark and slightly drab appearance to the film, but there are LOTS of psychedelic colors to balance out the dim lighting. All of the magical spells and battles are accompanied by shiny oranges, blues, greens and other neon shades as Doctor Strange battles both on earth as well as the Dark Dimension. Fine detail is very stable, and stays distinctly fresh in the viewer’s eye, with every fold of the mystical cape that he wears, or the scarring on the good doctor’s hands showing up perfectly. Sometimes the copious amounts of CGI is more noticeable than others, and it can stand out a bit if you notice it, and the shadows sometimes lose a little bit of detail with all of the dim lighting, but overall the image is very faithful to what I saw in the theater.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=91978[/img]I’ve been slightly disappointed with the last few Marvel movies in the audio department. “Age of Ultron” had really anemic bass, and “Captain America: Civil War” wasn’t THAT much better. However, “Doctor Strange” does a fantastic job at fixing those errors, delivery a top notch 7.1 mix that really wows the listener. Sadly, Disney STILL hasn’t jumped into the Atmos arena, but the 7.1 is not exactly a poor performer either. The dialog is strong and clean, no matter the location, and the array of special effects and magical battles create a wildly immersive experience that jumps about the 7 main channels with dizzying speed. Energy blasts crack in the front channel, while the swirl of a tornado of energy pulses in the rears. The LFE is deep and unfiltered, giving us a pretty intense experience that culminates when the good Doctor visits the Dark Dimension near the end of the film. Like I said, I was a LITTLE disappointed in the last couple Marvel Films, but “Doctor Strange” has a top-notch mix and a fantastic audio track for this Blu-ray. Absolutely amazing.
• A Strange Transformation
• Strange Company
• The Fabric of Reality
• Across Time and Space
• The Score-cerer Supreme
• Marvel Studios Phase 3 Exclusive Look
• Team Thor: Part 2 – See more of the hilarious partnership between Thor and his roommate Darryl in this satirical short.
• Deleted Scenes
• Gag Reel
• Audio Commentary by Director Scott Derrickson
I think that “Doctor Strange” is the most mature and nuanced film of the entire Marvel lineup, except for maybe “Captain American: Winter Soldier”, and in my top 3 favorite Marvel films. I was worried about how Disney/Marvel would bring in magical abilities to a world that seems to be dominated by “science” (kind of like how Nolan’s Batman movies shied away from showing off some of the crazier villains in an effort to keep them grounded), but they embraced the pure fantasy elements of the origin story with gusto and glee. Benedict Cumberbatch once again proves why he’s such a mega star and for once we get a rather impressive villain (the weakest part in every Marvel movie). The audio is nothing short of breathtaking, and the video does wonderfully considering the darkness of the movie. Extras are solid, but nothing fantastic (although it is a step up over the last few films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe). Definitely a must watch for those who love superhero films.
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelson
Directed by: Scott Derrickson
Written by: Scott Derrickson, Jon Spaihts
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (2.39:1 and 1.90:1 in 3D) AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 7.1 French, Spanish DD 5.1, English DD 2.0 DVS
Studio: Disney/Buena Vista
Runtime: 115 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: February 28th, 2017
Buy Doctor Strange 3D On Blu-ray at Best Buy
Buy Doctor Strange On Blu-ray at Best Buy
Recommendation: Loads of Fun
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