Thursday, 3 November 2016
Review: Dr. Strange
Okay, in addition to reading Injection, Eve and I went to see the new Marvel Studios film, Dr. Strange. While Captain America: Civil War, is meant to have been the start of Phase Three, this feels like it's actually the real start of it, introducing new characters and ideas to the MCU. It's interesting that Stephen Strange is pretty much the closest character we've seen to Tony Stark since the Iron Man films began, he's an egomaniac, who's fiendishly clever but lacking in humility; although that pretty much describes all Marvel's big hitters apart from Captain America. There's more than an element Sherlock Holmes to the way he was presented, with his character being defined by knowledge and intelligence, what he lacks is faith and a spiritual side. He was well realised, and the call out to the events of Civil War was fun, even if it was just before the car crash that kick-started his heroic journey (oops spoilers, I guess). The other characters were well realised as well, though it would have been nice if Rachel McAdams' character had been given more to do (perhaps she can return as Night Nurse?) Also, I would love to see a hospital drama set in a Marvel universe, especially one that dealt with the Battle of New York.
The film is very much an origin flick and this is one of the few cases where it feels like it's needed - Strange is hardly a household name and his origin would be very difficult to pack into a pre-opening credits scene, unlike say the Fantastic Four or Spider-Man. As Marvel seem to be moving in a slightly different direction with this phase, it was important to actually start establishing the mystical side of their universe a bit more, so the film starts to open up that side of things - which I'm sure will also be something we see in Black Panther and in other places (I'm hoping that we'll see Shaman from Alpha Flight, and perhaps some of the British stuff given the obsession Marvel seem to have with Camelot and King Arthur in later films, but I wouldn't bet on it).
I must say that the visuals were amazing but that I felt in places, the Matrix/2001 type reality bending was a bit too much and I could see that younger viewers might find them distressing - if only because they were so weird. That being said, I enjoyed them in a sort of hallucinatory fashion and thought they were well done, adding a nice believability to the 'masquerade' that magic has obviously operated under in the MCU. I particularly liked the reveal in the denouement, of how big the villain, Dormammu actually was, it was very cleverly done.
The action moves steadily, and is dynamic, while the 'putting together Dr. Strange' plot works well, with the elements that make him the hero he is falling into place organically within the film. In the same way the other protagonist's (SPOILER) fall from grace is well handled, and it was good to see them setting that up for the long game. It does feel a little like they shot their bolt by using Dormammu as the first villain, as outside of Mephisto, he's the biggest foe Strange has so it makes it hard to work out where they'll go next.