A Strange Review

I went to go see Doctor Strange on opening day. I had a half day off from work and went home to pick up my mom, who was already off. We headed to the mall, had something to eat and caught a 4:00 pm 3-D showing. Now, before I even get into my non-spoiler review of the movie, I have to start by saying how much I recommend this movie be seen in 3-D. If you’ve seen any of the previews, you know that this movie has some very Inception-esque style scenes. Scenes which are perfectly suited to pull you right into the middle of the experience in a 3-D rendered film. It had been recommended by a podcast I listen to. So, thank you Bill (Wicked Theory Podcast); I’m so glad that I paid the extra money. As many may know, 3-D showings are usually several dollars more than a regular ticket and, in this case, the movie was completely worth it.
I wasn’t sure what to expect, but knew, based on the previews, that this was not going to be like the other Marvel films that had come before. It had the makings of a great movie. The cast alone had me excited to see the film, ever since the rumor that Benedict Cumberbatch was the lead as Doctor Steven Strange was confirmed true. It was fantastic to see a fan-casting come to fruition and with such a brilliant actor. Being a big fan of Cumberbatch since his BBC Sherlock days, I just had to write something about the big announcement.
Now, about ten months later, my hopes for the film have not been let down. But it’s not just Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game, War Horse, 12 Years A Slave, Star Trek Into Darkness), the movie is packed full of talent. Chiwetel Ejiofor was cast as Mordo, know from a wide variety of films: 12 Years A Slave, The Martian, American Gangster, Kinky Boots, Serenity, and Love Actually. The beautiful Rachel McAdams, known from the Nicholas Sparks novel turned film, The Notebook, as well as the Sherlock Holmes film franchise and True Detective, was Dr. Christine Palmer. A British actor with a long list of acting credits (movie and TV), such as Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Kickass 2, Prometheus, The Martian, and Marco Polo–Benedict Wong was Wong. Now, speaking of a long list of varied acting work, the ever talented Mads Mikkelsen was Kaecilius. A Danish-born actor, Mikkelsen is known for: King Arthur, Casino Royale, Valhalla Rising, Clash of the Titans, Hannibal, and Star Wars Rogue One. Last, but certainly not least, an actress of the stage and film, Tilda Swinton was The Ancient One. Swinton, another British actor with a varied list of credits, is more popularly known for such films as: The Beach, Constantine, Chronicles of Narnia, Moonrise Kingdom, The Grand Budapest Hotel and Trainwreck. With a cast of such magnitude and international esteem, how could anything but greatness be expected from this film?
As I mentioned before, this will be a spoiler free review of the movie; but in case people are not aware of what this movie is about, I’ll provide a brief summary. The story of Doctor Strange centers around a wealthy and successful neurosurgeon, Steven Strange. Imagine Tony Stark with a scalpel, except a little less wealthy, and with a cocky confidence rather than arrogance. Things are going very well for our handsome surgeon until one fateful night, driving in his Lamborghini, he gets into a devastating car crash. The car crash severely damages his hands, ending his career and life as he knew it. He burns through his money attempting to fix his hands, until finally winding up in Nepal on the search for a mysterious and spiritual healing process in a place called Karmar-Taj. While there, he learns that magic is real and he can learn to harness it…if he can put his own selfish needs aside. This is a story of self-discovery, with magic and Marvel super-hero awesomeness thrown in. What’s not to like about that?
So what did I think about Doctor Strange? I’m glad you asked. It had a charm and humor that was unexpected. There were several moments where the theater was filled with laughter for a variety of reasons: something someone did, said, or didn’t say. It wasn’t roll-on-the-floor-laughing funny, but a subtle, sarcastic and snarky type of funny that I can appreciate. This film triggers more emotions than just happiness; you feel Steven’s internal turmoil and desperation after his accident and his shock and awe at Karmar-Taj. In addition, you experience trepidation, nervousness, and excitement. 3-D lends itself well to being able to get viewers lost in the film. You often feel like you’re right there standing with the characters, listening in to their conversations and witnessing the events happen–an invisible spectator. This helps you relate far better to the situations and emotions these characters are going through.
Of course, not all movies are suited for 3-D, but that’s not this film. The special effects were amazing and beautiful. They were intricate and, yet, seamless while also being….just really freaking cool. Even though the effects hint at similar effects used by another film, they were still unique to this movie and seemed more advanced.
Not only were the effects fantastic, but the sound effects and music were great as well. While we sat through the credits, waiting for the second extra scene (yes there are two, one after the first bit of credits and the other at the very end), we were excited to see that the post-production for the film’s sound was handled by Skywalker Sound. Now that I’ve actually been to visit Skywalker Ranch (mentioned in my recent travel blog about my visit to Napa, CA), I’ve been paying closer attention to the sound design/production portion of a movie’s credits. Knowing someone who works at Skywalker Ranch and having seen their work in the fascinating sound stages and mixing rooms, I have a new appreciation for the work that goes into this one piece of making a movie.
So, have I managed to convince you to go see this movie? You don’t even have to go see it in 3-D, if that’s not your thing. I know some people who can’t tolerate 3-D movies. I may have recommended that you should see this movie in 3-D but that doesn’t mean the regular screening is any less of a movie. The unique yet familiar story line is still there, the acting is still superb and I would definitely go back to see the movie for a second time at a regular screening. But I digress…
If I have not yet convinced you, allow me to throw some numbers at you. During the movie’s opening weekend, it made over $85 million in the domestic (US) box office alone, which is over half of its $165 million production budget. Add in the worldwide box office results, the movie has made a total of over $325 million so far, more than double its production budget. This is based off data pulled from boxofficemojo.com. Those are some impressive results for a movie, especially when I’m sure most people are not familiar with the Doctor Strange character or his comics. I know I wasn’t, but I did my research when the movie was first announced. I was intrigued and then the cast sold it for me.
I hope this review, in its limited detail (so I won’t accidentally blab spoilers out of sheer excitement), managed to intrigue you enough to give Doctor Strange a shot. Trust me when I say, you won’t regret it.
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