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"Doctor Strange" Brings The Magic To The MCU

By Laura Brack in Arts & Culture


"Doctor Strange"

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has had some ups and downs over the years, but 2016 has been a great year for them so far. “Luke Cage” is great, “Captain America: Civil War” was a masterpiece, and even “Agents Of SHIELD” sucks less than usual! Plus, we’ve got an actual Oscar winner for our Captain Marvel, and if set pictures are any indication, “Spider-Man: Homecoming” is going to be the best Spidey movie ever.

“Doctor Strange”, released on November 4th, is no exception. “Doctor Strange” gives us the most visually-stunning Marvel movie ever, which elevates a fairly standard Marvel origin story into something truly amazing. Even as a glasses wearer, I can confirm that it’s worth it to pay the extra money for the 3D, and if you can see it in IMAX, do it. It’s like somebody in Marvel’s VFX department watched “Inception”, and then was like, “Alright, that’s cool, but it needs to be about ten times trippier than that.” And so, it was done, and it was glorious.

Of course, when I say “fairly standard Marvel origin story”, I mean it. “Doctor Strange”’s basic outline isn’t too different from “Iron Man” or “Thor”. And if you don’t like Marvel’s brand of humor, that really hasn’t changed much in this movie, either. But the performances from the cast make it worth it. Benedict Cumberbatch is heartbreaking as Doctor Strange, Mads Mikkelsen is fantastically spooky as Kaecillius, and if the Ancient One (who, in the comics, is a Tibetan man) had to be a white woman, we’re blessed that that white woman is Tilda Swinton.

From here on, there are spoilers. If you don’t want to be spoiled, turn back now. If you want to be spoiled, or if you just don’t want to see the movie, or if you’re interested in one nerd’s speculation, keep reading.

Kaecillius, despite Mads Mikkelsen’s aforementioned amazing performance, kind of falls into the forgettable MCU villain camp. He’s just not developed enough on his own to really stick into your head. Is he cool? Yes, yes he is cool. That eye makeup? Cool. But he’s just kind of there.

However, the next “Doctor Strange” movie will not suffer from that syndrome, because it also set up a really good villain. I sincerely hope that we see Mordo in more movies, because he’s fantastic. Finding out the truth about the Ancient One’s long life shatters his world view, and his turn to the dark side makes perfect sense. And in the after-credits scene, where he takes away the magic keeping a guy un-paralyzed? Perfect villainous event horizon.

And speaking of villains? Dormammu. Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange is great, but Benedict Cumberbatch as an evil floating space head of evil is fantastic. The guy’s just good at scary motion capture characters. There’s no way Doctor Strange would be able to defeat him under normal circumstances, either, and technically he’s still out please, Marvel Studios, bring him back!

Meanwhile, on the heroic side, Wong is a definite standout. He’s just so awesome - a librarian with a cool staff, no sense of humor and awesome taste in music? Yes. He’s much cooler than his comic book counterpart, who’s a kinda-racist stereotype and also basically just Doctor Strange’s servant. Here, he’s his own fully-fleshed out character, and his presence adds some much-needed diversity to the MCU.

The single best character in the film, though, is not actually a character. The Cloak of Levitation has a mind of its own, much like the magic carpet in “Aladdin”, and it saves Doctor Strange’s hide on multiple occasions. It provides many of the film’s laughs, while also being a really beautiful piece of animated cloth.

So overall, while “Doctor Strange” might have the basic Marvel story as its backbone, the performances from the cast and the fantastic effects make it more than worth it to go see.  Go see it expecting Marvel’s usual brand of laughs and some truly trippy visuals.






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