Doctor Strange (2016)

Piotrek: After 6 weeks of playing Witcher I finally left home, to go to the cinema. I’ve arrived there late enough not to see the regular commercials, but early enough to enjoy two trailers: Guardians of Galaxy 2 and Rogue One. Both movies look great so far and it was worth half the price of admission 😉 And than Doctor Strange started. Good times continued for the rest of the evening.

Ola: Well, I guess I should start with congratulations! 😛 Did you take a sword or two with you? The roads are so unsafe these days 😉 At least you chose well the reason for leaving your safe harbor for the evening…

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Piotrek: Another solid part of the MCU. Not the best, but one of the very good movies we can count on to hit cinemas a couple times a year. When the comic book movies bubble bursts, I’ll miss it.

Ola: Yeah, Doctor Strange is solid. A curious blend of Inception, Batman Begins, and typical Marvel flavour… One cannot but start to wonder what the movie would look like if Nolan made it… As for the bubble… well, good things come and go ;). And the times we live in promote escapism, so I don’t readily see the end of the trend. I cannot say it saddens me though 😛

Piotrek: I’ve never actually read any Doctor Strange comics. He was a guest star in a few, in Civil War, Deadpool, Original Sin… Not the most spectacular Marvel hero, but a stable – and stabilizing presence, clear mind and quite a bit of firepower.

Ola: The same here; I only leafed through the psychedelic comic books where Strange was the leading character. Stephen Strange seems a rather second-tier hero in MCU, at least that’s my take on the matter. Daredevil, for example, feels much more prominent, and yet there’s only (or rather thankfully!) a TV series about him. I wonder why the Marvel moguls chose Strange from their broad plethora of characters… Maybe magic was the selling point here. All in all, though, I really enjoyed the final effect. I knew Strange’s origin story, I read a few comic books where he played an important role – 1602 comes to mind, along with a couple of Spider-Man stories… A solid presence indeed.

Piotrek: The movie brings another dimension (the last one missing?) from comics to the MCU. The fantasy, magical part that constitutes yet another front where Earth needs defenders. A busy front, and that explains why he never appeared in earlier MCU movies, when the planet was threatened by supervillains – even though his ascension to superheroism takes place around Iron Man 2.

Ola: Why Iron Man 2?

Piotrek: Not my idea, and apparently it’s not that clear…  one of the people Strange refuses to operate on in the early part of the movie provides some ideas. These guys believe it was soldier injured in a test of faulty armor suit from the court scene in Iron Man 2. On the other hand, as inquisitive minds from Reddit pointed out, Steven Strange is mentioned in Winter Soldier as a threat to Hydra, so he must be up and running by that time – and famous enough to be recognized. Or not, if it was just a prediction. Or his training started then, but the finale of the movie happens parallel to latest MCU instalments. Huh.

Anyway, it all starts like an episode of Dr House, with an arrogant, eccentric doctor ordering his staff around. Than, when his medical career abruptly ends, Steven Strange has to look somewhere else. After some time, he finds himself in Himalaya, seeking wisdom from the Ancient One in a remote monastery. Not a very original idea, but I liked the execution better than when Nolan’s Bruce Wayne took similar course of action.

Visually it’s unique, as befits a movie about magic. Walt Disney’s Fantasia is said to be an inspiration, as well as colourful and psychedelic Dr Strange comics, and it’s easy to believe.

Ola: Disney’s Fantasia in hands of a horror flicks director… I like that angle 😉 Although my own associations went the way of Inception and Batman Begins. And, of course, the animated version of Spider-Man, where Spidey joins forces with Strange to fight Dormamu and (spoiler alert) Mordo! 😀

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Piotrek: I like Benedict Cumberbatch, I’m a huge fan since I’ve seen the first episode of Sherlock. And I also think Tilda Swinton is great, with her city-bending powers. The bad guys, both of them – not remarkable. Mads Mikkelsen is experienced at this, but he wasn’t given much to work with. As usual, the movie is more about the protagonist and his journey. But the second Doctor Strange might be better in this regard, its antagonist is shaping up to be a much more interesting character.

Ola: The actors are great. Each role was well placed, though I grieve the lost chance of having Mads Mikkelsen in a movie and not using him to his full ability… The villains were by far the weakest part of the movie, but I will argue that it’s inevitable in a situation where a long origin story is crammed into a 2hr movie and crowded by one of the biggest bad guys this Universe had seen. And yet, Dormamu looked non-threatening and weak, while the reasoning of Mikkelsen’s character (whatever his name was, and the fact that I don’t remember his name says a lot about the quality of the villain) seemed very far-fetched and unconvincing. Cumberbatch surprised me, in a very positive way. He was transparent here, letting Strange play, just like in the Sherlock series. But his Khan was a disaster for me, and his Smaug not much better. Here, Cumberbatch is really very good, from the beginning to the end. And Swinton – what to say? She’s always great :). but the character I enjoyed the most was the Coat of Levitation 😀

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Piotrek: I enjoyed the movie immensely. But I have to admit it isn’t overly ambitious. Marvel plays it safe, simple story with light humor and many pop culture references. But it does the comics justice (as far as I know and so do more knowledgable people claim), shows us a few new things in slightly different style. I give it 8/10 🙂

Another question – will it last? This genre paradise we are living for a few years now… I feel spoiled. I here fans complaining not all they get is as good and innovative as they’d like, and I think… we are still getting more than anyone could have hoped for not so long ago. Just make it last, please…

Ola: It’s a solid entry in MCU universe, preparing the ground for Ragnarok and the more cosmic side of Marvel (together with the Guardians). Is it groundbreaking? By no means. Thought-provoking? Gods forbid! But it’s entertaining,well played, with superb special effects and light, slightly dry humor.

Will it last? I see lots of possible reasons why it shouldn’t – war, the collapse of free market and the capitalism, the collapse of democracy… But as long as people have money and are willing to spend it going to see movies such as this – MCU should feel perfectly safe. They know how to spin their tales :).
Score: 7,5/10
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