March 13, 2017

Doctor Strange

Scott Derrickson, 2016

Kids today don't realize how good they have it. The enormous amount of great content that is available to them. Anyone looking for a visual spectacle has a vast library to pick from, readily available. When we were in High School, if we were high and wanted some kind of eye candy, we had to download a visualization screensaver and attempt to line it up with the bpm of some primitive, poorly produced techno. It often failed, but we took what we could get and were happy with it. Doctor Strange is a visual spectacle to say the least. It's a bit of an ocular masterpiece that feels like Inception and Guardians of the Galaxy had a baby. When Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) desperately ventures to the far East in search of a cure for his damaged hands, he meets "The Ancient One". Skeptical and unsure of The Ancient One's abilities, she throws him into an multidimensional wormhole to shake his senses. This entire sequence might have you thinking someone laced your popcorn with LSD, but no need to worry. A 14 year old version of me would have literally watched this segment repeatedly until my eyes gave out and I fell asleep. The special effects capabilities that are available today continue to be mind-blowing. Marvel Studios continues to keep upping the ante as well, raising the bar from a technical standpoint. It's really gotten to the point that when you watch these Marvel stories come to screen, you know you are going to be fed such quality magical realism that you can just sit back and take it all in. Like Pixar studios, these are beautiful looking films that transcend generations in terms of story that is mature enough to keep adults watching along with their kids.

Cumberbatch is kind of the perfect fit for the Stephen Strange character. He is able to channel that over-confident English-cored arrogance that worked in The Imitation Game and the Sherlock television series. Strange is an ego-driven brain surgeon who feels like he has lost everything when he sustains serious nerve damage to his hands. Strange is a lot like Tony Stark in the sense that they have humongous egos that people sort of forgive because of their impressive brain power. But they are both reckless characters as well. Strange's accident is totally self-inflicted. He learns quite quickly how vulnerable and as human as (everyone he has operated on) he really is. Sometimes movies that play with time can become convoluted quickly. Derrickson keeps things manageable enough that you don't get lost in confusion. If anything it seems like Stephen picks up on the magical arts a little too quickly, but I suppose its excusable because of his tremendous brain power. He admits himself that he has a photographic memory. So this would mean he would be able to consume the texts in his chambers and retain the vast knowledge contained in them without any problems. Either way, his quick grasp of the powers only helps to move the already interesting story along.

Doctor Strange is a unique offering to the MCU from a stylistic standpoint. You could argue that it falls into the same formula as the other origin stories do. Person has some kind of conflict. Conflict creates need for special ability. Special ability obtained. Special ability used in climactic segment. But the delivery of this formula is done through such a spectacular visual spectacle that it makes you eager to stay in the world shown to you.

An optical feast, a visual journey, something that I am eager to jump back into. Something I wish was on screen 15 years ago when I was most hungry for these types of movies. When you think about all of the atrocious superhero offerings we have had to endure over the years: Batman Forever, Spawn, Batman and Robin, Elektra, Affleck's Daredevil film, those Fantastic Four films. Ugh. It's safe to say I personally won't take films like Dr. Strange for granted. The unfortunate thing is - today's youth totally will.

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