Tuesday, 1 November 2016

REVIEW: Doctor Strange

We've reached a point where the film market is full of comic book/superhero movie adaptations. With DC Comics joining the fray this year full on with Batman v. Superman & Suicide Squad to compete with 20th Century Fox & Marvel franchises, not to mention Sony is planning to branch out after the collaboration with Marvel with its Spider-Man franchise, we're definitely will be bombarded by the endless amount of similar movies for the meantime.

There are discussions this year, whether audiences have starting to feel weary with the increasing frequency of comic book adaptations hitting the screen. In some ways, the audiences do feel tired with the comic book adaptations as they have been dominating cinema for a few years now. So, the next few releases has to be really, really good. Enters Doctor Strange, Marvel's latest entry to the MCU.

Before the actual review, let me state something, I am not a super comic book fan, I do read one or two comics but not at the scale of knowing all the characters. Hence, sometimes I don't mind the adaptation stray from the source material as long as the film itself is good.

Doctor Strange is a film that feels very different from other MCU movies before it, yet it feels very similar in terms of executions. The premise of the Doctor Strange is strikingly familiar with the original Iron Man, a cocky genius who is good at his work, ends up in a life threatening situation. The said genius has to learn to be humble and respect his powers. Yet, the setting is vastly different from Marvel's other entries. Heck, the journey of Strange travelling to Kamar-Taj to learn his powers feels like Batman Begins.

In its core, Doctor Strange is a superhero origin story. With Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) learns to be a sorcerer and master the power of mystic arts, under a guidance of The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) and faces a villain who is a mirror image of him, Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen). Doctor Strange also features a strong female lead who is also his lover (usual Marvel trope), fellow doctor, Dr. Palmer (Rachel McAdams).

What's so well executed about Doctor Strange is that Marvel did not stray much from other existing Marvel's films, yet it feels so different when viewing it in person. The subtle tweaks in terms of setting, theme and message ensures the movie feels different in its own way. If you watch Iron Man and Doctor Strange side by side. The storyline progression is almost identical.

The casts' performances are stellar, with Benedict Cumberbatch excels in his role as the Sorcerer's Supreme, I also like the performances of Benedict Wong, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Tilda Swinton in this movie. However, I am disappointed with Rachel McAdams portrayal of Doctor Palmer, not because she is bad, she just there for the sake of being there. Then, there's the Achilles Heel of Marvel films, the villain.  Kaecilius is just forgettable, just like many Marvel movie villain. With the casting of Mads Mikkelsen, who is so good as a Bond villain and Hannibal Lecter, you'd expect the villain in this film will be so much better, you're wrong.

In all, Doctor Strange is a solid entry to the Marvel's franchise. Although it is basically the same premise, the subtle tweaks and Benedict Cumberbatch's excellent performance have ensured it feels slightly different than the others. However, the visual effects might not hold up years later and the villain is just another forgettable villain in the franchise's stable. Doctor Strange is, surprisingly, my favourite comic book movie adaptation this year.

Score: 4/5

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