Wednesday, 26 October 2016

A New Doctor McDreamy is in Town

A former neurosurgeon embarks on a journey of healing only to be drawn into the world of the mystic arts.


This 60s cult figure, on the periphery of the Marvel Comics Universe for over 50 years finally comes to prosperity. Directed by Scott Derrickson , Doctor Strange is typical of a Kevin Feige-produce Marvel movie. It introduces the title character just in time to take his place in the 2018's Avengers: Infinity War. On this showing, he's a welcome addition to the Universe. 


With the cast led by the British trio of Cumberbatch, Ejiofor and Swinton - not forgetting Benedict Wong, who plays The Ancient One's guardian of the sacred texts - it's pleasing to see a Marvel movie that feels so homegrown. Here are these terrific dramatic actors, playing comic book characters in a film, the majority of whose audience members may never have seen them before. Benedict Cumberbatch may have played the genius before - Sherlock, Stephen Hawking or Alan Turing - but he seasons Strange with just the right amount of arrogance to ensure we don't immediately fall for his charms. He emphatically stresses the title character's arrogance, impatience and sense of superiority to perfection. His genius pairs him as something of a blood brother to Tony Stark. 


It's the very fact of this deeply insecure and wildly overcompensating character's determination to prove himself that makes Doctor Strange one of Marvel's most satisfying entry and also a throwback to M. Shyamalan's soul-searching identity crisis epic Unbreakable. The character is literally fighting for his life and Benedict Cumberbatch captures both his humbling process and the subsequent regain of confidence. Sadly, Rachel MacAdams is left with the thankless girlfriend role. In fact, much like Natalie Portman before her, she's terribly underused and her character lacks any real substance. Though she's effective enough to ensure it never becomes a major weak spot. 


Yes, this new instalment shares the same look, feel and fancy corporate shine as the rest of Marvel's expanding Avengers franchise but it also has its own freshness and originality. Flaunting hugely impressive CGI, these kaleidoscope effects really sets the tone for MArvel's trippiest movie yet. The Pre-credits sequence leaves viewers with a teaser for what the rest of the film has in store visually, Inception-style. Determined to beat Christopher Nolan at his own game when it comes to folding and bending famous cityscapes to mesmerising effects. The battle scenes are amazing. Firstly, due to this bending universe and secondly since his enemies are martial experts with post-"Matrix" abilities, Strange has to be creative; conjuring shields (my inner nerd wants a Cap/Strange shield battle so badly) and teleportation portals from the plain air.  Such scenes may be good for spectacle but Doctor Strange's most fascinating battle is within himself, as he fights to regain the use of his hands and later to overcome everything he has learned. 


The never ending roots coming from the mind-expanding branch of Eastern mythology is different enough to establish a solid ground, alongside the blockbusters already established. If like me you had to lie over "absolutely loving" a young wizard just to be like any other children back in the days, this new film will make you wish you were seven years old, all over again. This New Age realm of magic and sorcery because let's face it, who needs a wand anymore? Finally, much to his credit Scott Derrickson (Deliver Us from Evil, Sinister) navigates through the different zones with a fair degree of actual coherence and delivers the entire package with obvious ease and even some flair.


Overall, introducing spells and sorcery into the MCU is Marvel's riskiest movie to date, but the gamble pays off. This movie is a confident step into new territories and expands, even more, the shared universe. It's an engaging, smartly cast and kaleidoscopic eye-popping addition to the studios.

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