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Fourteen movies in, and you’d really expect Marvel to drop the ball at
some point, right? The box office behemoth launched another franchise
starter this last weekend with Scott Derikson’s ‘Doctor Strange’, and
the answer to my previous question is a resounding “Nope!” Strange isn’t
a perfect movie, but it does open up the Marvel Cinematic Universe (or
MCU) in incredibly exciting ways, and fully realizes the potential of
its source material onscreen. It also falls into some of the usual
trappings of the Marvel films, but to a significantly lesser degree than
other standalone entries. It also happens to be a nice bookend to a
summer that kicked off with a great Marvel movie (Civil War, which I
reviewed as well) but was filled with disappointing rehashes and
sequels. It truly goes to show the superiority and consistency of the
Marvel machine.

Doctor Strange is another story, and
if it seems familiar, it’s because it shares a lot with movies like
Iron Man. The movie opens with Stephen Strange as a brilliant,
successful, yet arrogant neurosurgeon. He’s got everything he’s ever
wanted, until his own hubris upends everything he’s ever worked for in a
terrible accident. Refusing to accept the hand he’s been dealt (see
what I did there?) he searches far and wide for a way back to the life
he had before his accident. It takes him to Nepal, at the secret
compound of Kamar-Taj, where he meets a mentor (the Ancient One) and
allies (Wong and Baron Mordo) to help teach him the mystic arts. I’m
being incredibly general about the plot to avoid giving much away. If
you’re familiar with the comics, the movie sticks very close to the
source material. None of the plot elements are too revolutionary, or
nearly as exciting as the visual magic on display on the movie, but it
gets the job done.

So yea, the visuals in this
movie. Holyyyyy crapppp they’re good. From the very first scene that
Strange arrives at Kamar-Taj, and the Ancient One introduces him to the
many dimensions beyond our own, you know you’re in for a ride. The
original Steve Ditko comics were obviously a HUGE influence on the art
direction for the movie, as these scenes explode with vibrant colors,
cosmic anomalies, and just plain psychedelic weirdness. It’s a throwback
to the beautiful work done in the late 60’s by Ditko and Stan Lee, who
DEFINITELY did acid recreationally, right?? Beyond just that scene, each
set piece one-ups the previous one, with one of the final showdowns
taking place in a Mirror dimension version of London that will turn your
brain inside out. Doctor Strange is so visually inventive it makes
Inception look like – (insert visually boring action movie title for
hyperbolic comparison)

I wanted to dive into
the ending on here, and without spoiling anything, that’s where this
movie succeeds the most. It takes a knowing glance at what you expect to
see in the third act of a superhero movie, and does essentially the
opposite. Subverting your expectations, it has one of the most memorable
villain encounters of any Marvel movie yet. I’m already quoting it in
my daily life. Once you see it, hit me up in the messages or on Facebook
and we’ll talk about how much it rules. Also, that first post-credits
scene, hooooo boy! I’m just nerding out now, but overall I really
enjoyed Doctor Strange. It’s not in my top, top Marvel favorites, but
it’s close. It takes a standard origin story, and ingests it full of
energy with great performances (Tilda Swinton And Breadneck
Crumblesnitch being the standouts) and out-of-this-world visuals
filled to the brim with imagination and creativity. It also opens the
Marvel cinematic universe in exciting new ways, and like I always seem
to say at the end of a Marvel review, I can’t wait to see where this
world goes next.

That’s
going to wrap it up on Doctor Strange. If you see it, I’d definitely
recommend 3D, and IMAX if you can. The visuals pop in a way I haven’t
experienced in theaters for a long time. This movie definitely grows on
me the more I think about it, and I’m sure I’ll check it out again
before it leaves theaters. As for what’s next on the blog, I’m
definitely going to check out ARRIVAL this coming weekend, because
Dennis Villeneuve can do no wrong. I fully expect to fall in love with
that one, with what I’m hearing about it is true. Per usual, thanks for
check out the blog and the review, and check back for more posts in the
coming weeks!

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