Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Film Review: "Doctor Strange" (2016).

"Open your mind. Change your reality", this lies deep within Doctor Strange. This superhero film featuring the Marvel Comics character of the same name, produced by Marvel Studios. It is the fourteenth film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The film is directed by Scott Derrickson, and written by Derrickson, C. Robert Cargill and Jon Spaihts. The film follows the story of the talented neurosurgeon Doctor Stephen Strange who, after a tragic car accident, must put ego aside and learn the secrets of a hidden world of mysticism and alternate dimensions. Strange must also act as an intermediary between the real world and what lies beyond, utilising a vast array of metaphysical abilities and artifacts to protect the Universe.

Since the mid-1980s, various incarnations of a Doctor Strange film have been in development with various noted directors such as Wes Craven, David S. Goyer and Guillermo del Toro were attached, until Paramount Pictures acquired the film rights in April 2005 on behalf of Marvel Studios. In June 2010, Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer were brought on board to write a screenplay. In June 2014, Derrickson was hired to helm the project, with Cargill and Spaihts hired to re-write the film. In December 2014, Benedict Cumberbatch was cast in the title role, with Ejiofor, McAdams, Wong, Stuhlbarg, Bratt, Adkins, Mikkelsen and Swinton were all cast by late September 2015. Swinton's casting as The Ancient One was particularly controversial and drew accusations of whitewashing, as the character is portrayed as a Tibetan man in the source material. However, one proposed reason for the change is that a movie featuring a Tibetan character will not be acceptable in China, which has become a very important foreign market. So the deviation from the source material was probably to not hurt the movie's box office chances. Principal photography commenced in November 2015 and concluded in April 2016, locations included Nepal, United Kingdom, Hong Kong and New York.

The film stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Michael Stuhlbarg, Benjamin Bratt, Scott Adkins, Mads Mikkelsen, and Tilda Swinton. The cast gave solid performances despite playing archetypes that are often derivative of other characters in superhero-origin movies. The casting both Ejiofor and Swinton were the two somewhat questionable castings in film, as their characters are Asian in the comics, yet they managed to do their best and make the characters their own.

Doctor Strange applies a vivid sense of detail to a vast cosmic universe in which the characters and their minds inhabit, Derrickson has devised a superhero film for Doctor Strange fans and audiences who grew in the 60s counter-culture era. It challenges viewers to sift through vast dimensions of reality. Though the film ultimately suffers due to being extremely derivative (to the point of plagiarism) of Inception, Batman Begins and every other superhero-origin story that has ever exited in film history. It feels like Derrickson doing a pale imitation of Christopher Nolan making a Doctor Strange movie.

Simon says Doctor Strange receives:

Also, see my review for Captain America: Civil War.

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