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Marvel Studios Takes a Trip Into the World of Magic in Doctor Strange

December 1, 2016 Film Reviews

by Sarah Wickenhauser, graphic design student. (Published in The Filmstrip, December 2016 edition.)

 

Since Marvel Studios has made some of the highest-grossing movies in recent history, changing the formula that made them a success is a risky move. Did it pay off in this strange new addition to their movie anthology?

 
“Doctor Strange” tells the story of the Marvel character Steven Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), a brilliant but cocky neurosurgeon whose life falls apart after he is in a horrendous car accident that crushes both of his hands. Unable to return to his medical profession, he spends all of his money on procedures that all fail to give him back the use of his hands – and eventually, destitute and alone, he ends up at the door of a strange Tibetan monastery, his last resort. There, he is introduced to the mystic arts by the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), a mysterious sorceress who claims to be responsible for holding all dark magic in check and protecting the Earth from it. However, a rebel sorcerer works in the background to unleash a ravenous demon on the world in exchange for eternal life – and eventually, it’s up to Steven to use his newly discovered magical powers to defend the Earth from darkness.

 
The many movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe have scarcely diverted from their established pattern – most of them are set on Earth and feature superheroes who got their powers from science. Delving into the mystic side of Marvel lore was breaking new territory. Of course, some of the familiar elements of other MCU movies are present – such as Stan Lee’s cameo, and the frequent moments of humor to lighten the mood. However, I personally felt like some of these elements detracted from the story instead of adding to it. The story was already so different from any of the other Marvel movies that trying to tie it in with the others seemed ineffectual.

 
On the technical side, the movie was excellent. The acting was superb, a fact that saved some moments in the script that would have been dry or even painful to watch if less talented actors had been hired. The effects, though impressive, were almost dizzying to watch – even though I am a fan of the 3D trend in modern movies, I don’t think I would have been able to stomach seeing this movie thrown at me in three dimensions. The way magic was portrayed in the story relied on these special effects – with streets bending into cubes and gravity folding in on itself Inception-style – but if the primary purpose of these over-the-top effects was to be jarring to the eyes, then their creator succeeded.

 
Overall, this movie is definitely worth a watch, perhaps even several if you are sucked in by the story as I was. Stop by the theater to see it while it is still playing, or rent it when it comes out on Blu-ray and DVD around February 2017.

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