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Doctor Strange

Coming Soon

Marvel continues to find ways to stay fresh and relevant. Part of it is due to the fact that they have an exorbitant amount of material from which to work with. More importantly, it seems that Marvel isn’t afraid to take risks and have fun while doing it. Rather than beating old stories and characters to death (how many times have you seen Bruce Wayne’s parents die?), Marvel has opted to follow a completely different business model. In 2014, the idea was to expand the Marvel Cinematic Universe by going off-world with Guardians of the Galaxy. The gamble paid off as it was a huge box office hit with sequel on the way. In 2015 the idea was to go smaller and a lot funnier with Ant-Man which again was met with nothing but positive feedback and lots of laughs. Now, for the third year in a row, fans get a taste of something else that’s new and fresh. This time around Marvel gets mystical with Doctor Strange. Will the hits keep on coming?

Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a world renowned doctor that is in no way short on self-confidence. His arrogance is second to none but then again, so are his skills. After a terrible accident, Strange loses what is most important to a neurosurgeon, his steady hands. Out of practical options and at the end of his rope, desperation takes hold as he chases down the impractical. His journey leads him to Kathmandu where his life is transformed forever. Strange soon learns that there’s more to life than what he could ever imagine, and with that comes threats that only a select few can defend against.

To describe Doctor Strange as “trippy” might be burying the lead a bit, especially when comparing it to the other Marvel movies out there. Writer/director Scott Derrickson (The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008), Sinister (2012)) takes this tricky comic adaptation on without hesitation or doubt. The mind-bending cinematography and special effects will unequivocally allow this particular Marvel chapter to shape its own identity that sets it apart from the other movies. There are unavoidable similarities between this and other visually striking films such as The Matrix (1999) and Inception (2010). This is should be seen as nothing short of great news. The extra cherry on top here is that the story itself is also on the strong side. Derrickson also ties in some well placed humor to keep things light and fresh in moments that might be, otherwise, less than compelling.

Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game (2014)) channels his inner-Kahn (from 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness) as his egotistical, genius mentality prevails. He is an absolute natural at this and is a great casting choice. The very talented, and always changing chameleon, Tilda Swinton (A Bigger Splash (2015)) lends her amazing talents as the wise and mysterious teacher of mystic arts. Joining the fight for good are Chiwetel Ejiofor and Benedict Wong, both appearing recently in The Martian (2015). Fighting on the side of evil is Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale (2006), NBC’s Hannibal) who plays Kaecilius, a man hellbent on forcing Earth to succumb to a greater power. Rachel McAdams (Southpaw (2015), Spotlight (2015)) plays Christine Palmer and is the anchor to Strange’s more “normal” past.

Doctor Strange is another step forward in Marvel’s ever-expanding domination over its competition. Aside from that, it’s just a fun standalone action film. While there are not too many obvious ties into the storylines we’re already familiar with, there are a few points that will have seasoned fans smiling from cameos to objects. And of course in typical Marvel fashion, expect to sit through the entire length of the credits assuming you care to see everything there is to offer. On the plus side, Doctor Strange clocks in at only 115 minutes which is the has the third shortest runtime of MCU movies to date. Thor (2011) ran 114 minutes and Thor: The Dark World (2013) at 112 minutes, hold the top two spots. That’s in stark contrast to this year’s Captain America: Civil War which was 147 minutes of glorious fun. Some things are better in moderation, as is the case here. There’s just enough to keep the audiences interested and engaged, anything longer would have run the risk of being considered excessive and/or drawn out.

Just as Ant-Man did, Doctor Strange will have audiences waiting in anticipation for his next sighting. You might not have to wait as long as you thought with three more MCU movies releasing in 2017. Check this one out in theaters and large format ones if possible, assuming you want the maximum in your face experience.

Doctor Strange is streaming now on the following services:
Movie Reelist Contributor: Carl Wheeler

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