During its marketing campaign, I knew instantly that the critical reception of Doctor Strange would depend on rather the visual effects could live up to an already interesting comic book character. While we could have, all been fooled into an Inception styled approach on the multiverse aesthetics, director Scott Derrickson turns reality shaping into a kaleidoscope of stunning visuals, one that has made Doctor Strange the most visually appealing marvel cinematic universe (MCU) film to date.
The shaping of and transporting to different reality’s along with the out of body experience scenes stretches the limitless possibilities of what can be achieved via green or blue screen without looking like an inadequate attempt at showing off.
The MCU is very restricted in terms of refreshing a narrative. Because of the restrictions and rules of the superhero genre it can only use a basic hero’s journey template to then further expand and shape it around its central character. Steven Strange make it obvious through his character’s behaviour before his life altering event that this film’s narrative bends around his path to healing and to write what is wrong with his personality. Benedict Cumberbatch who portrays Steven Strange, begins performing as an arrogant and big headed character who thinks of himself before others, but on his path of healing discovers something even bigger than himself.
Cumberbatch is a great actor who has grown in popularity at a speed unmatched by most, he continues to show his impressive skills in Doctor Strange. His appearance as well is almost uncanny to the appearance of Doctor Strange in the comic book. There was a big controversy surrounding this film with Tilda Swinton and her casting as The Ancient One effectively whitewashing the character. In all honesty, there was no need for this tiny thing to grow into a fan outrage as Tilda Swinton’s performance as The Ancient One was both captivating and ear opening. You’ll find yourself paying attention to every word of dialogue coming from this characters mouth because the narrative forces you to. This is the character with all the answers so you must pay attention.
Just like with my review of The Infiltrator, I find myself once again talking about the sound design of Doctor Strange. This film was built to be heard in surround sound. The films first out of body scene messes with the sound so perfectly, you and the audience will be sucked into the scene with Doctor Strange, almost like you’re sharing the out of body experience with the character.
The cinematography of the film compliment the visual effects of the film. When a film attempts to have people in action within different spaces of the frame, it all comes together in sequences that appear rushed and messy, Doctor Strange take its time in setting up where each character is in terms of space before all the freaky stuff starts to happen.
Now I did say that Cumberbatch gave a good performance and for 90% of the film he does just that, but for the other 10% of the film, he starts to slip into his typecast area, his American accent will start to gradually fade away in scenes and revert to his normal dialect which is a little nitpick but it’s a nitpick that keeps bugging away at your brain so much that it must be said.
The film is funny at times, but the film’s overall tone doesn’t is out of sync with the tone of the humour. Doctor Strange is not like Guardians of the Galaxy or The Avengers where it is set up to be a fun film with many chuckles, it’s a film that evenly spreads steadiness and fun levels and doesn’t have one tone dominate the other. A film in the MCU must have a steady pace in order for it to affect our joy in watching said film, and while it doesn’t completely ruin the viewing experience, it creates a little bump, a tear even, in the viewership of the film.
Doctor Strange as a film always had one objective in my mind, and that was not to change our perspective on visual pleasing imagery, but also to change every element of what makes a film. Looking at the past films of the MCU, Doctor Strange does its job well with visuals that certainly are pleasing to the eye, praised along with non-disruptive cinematography and sound design. If only Scott Derrickson could have done some more work on the films consistency, we might have seen a new marvel fan favourite. However, as a continuation for the MCU Doctor Strange keeps this franchises high expectations at a steady level. (and yes there are two end credit scenes).
Final Result: 7/10 – Good
Have you seen Doctor Strange? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below?
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