Director: Scott Derrickson
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams
Release Date: February 28, 2017
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 7/10
Disc Rating: 9/10
From Marvel Studios comes Doctor Strange, the story of world-famous neurosurgeon Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), whose life changes forever after a horrific car accident renders his hands useless. When traditional medicine fails him, he travels to the remote Kamar-Taj in search of a cure, but instead discovers the mystical arts and becomes a powerful sorcerer battling dark forces bent on destroying our reality.
The latest entry in the ongoing Marvel Cinematic Universe introduces viewers to the more mystical side of the world, and to the titular character ‘Doctor Strange’. A brilliant and cocky neurosurgeon with a noteworthy career already firmly established, Dr. Stephen Strange’s life is drastically changed when a brutal car accident results in the inability to use his steady hands. Desperate to regain the use of his hands by any means necessary, he learns of a remote place in Kamar-Taj that may be his only hope of achieving his goal. Once inside, he meets a powerful woman who introduces him to the seemingly impossible. Finally beginning to accept the impossible and mystical nature at their (and soon his) disposal once discovered, before he can truly master what he needs to fully replenish himself he is forced to make the difficult choice of staying to fight in a mystical war he wants no part of, or abandoning those who helped him in order to return to his old life; that is if the choice isn’t made for him first.
Directed by Scott Derrickson (Sinister, The Exorcism of Emily Rose) from a screenplay that he also co-wrote along with Jon Spaihts (Prometheus), and C. Robert Cargill (Sinister), Derrickson does a more than capable job at the helm of ‘Doctor Strange’ capturing the mystical aura and visual insanity beautifully. The film also benefits a great deal from the cast which features a number of talented folks and includes Benedict Cumberbatch (Star Trek Into Darkness), Chiwetel Ejiofor (American Gangster), Rachel McAdams (Spotlight), Benedict Wong (The Martian), Mads Mikkelsen (TV’s Hannibal), and Tilda Swinton (Moonrise Kingdom), along with a number more. The majority contributing quite capable performances at the very least in each of their respective roles, although Cumberbatch tends to have no trouble stealing the film for the most part, offering a truly splendid portrayal of the title role that should thoroughly please most fans of the comic.
‘Doctor Strange’ is a visually spectacular, and often humorous and incredibly exciting exploration into the mystical side of the Marvel Universe and one of its more prominent characters. Albeit an incredibly fun, enthralling and gorgeous comic book film in many aspects, it also definitely has its share of faults and the pacing proves for an unnecessarily slow progression in a number of instances and what can’t help but feel like some real missed opportunities as a result of an excessively lengthy origin story. Even so, its many positive aspects often outweigh the bad and the mesmerizing visual effects and breathtaking fight sequences are something truly spectacular to behold (particularly in 3D), as is Cumberbatch in the lead, never missing a beat and truly becoming the character; his presence alone often helping to keep things somewhat interesting in many of the less exciting moments. Beautifully guided by director Scott Derrickson through its stunning and visually dazzling course and complimented even further by Cumberbatch’s wonderful portrayal of Strange and some talented individuals making up the supporting cast. Even if by no means one of the superior recent installments in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, any fan of the ongoing movie-verse will still definitely want to make a point of giving ‘Doctor Strange’ a whirl when you have the opportunity to do so, it’s a gorgeous, enjoyable and often quite stunning visual spectacle with some solid performances that is more than worth a watch. The fellow 3D enthusiasts will also want to make a point of giving this one a shot if you have the chance as it’s a perfect film for the 3D format and is greatly benefited by it. The shifting Aspect Ratio helps tremendously in allowing a more immersive experience in many noteworthy scenes, with the numerous shifting buildings, flying debris and various other mystifying aspects appearing to leap straight out of the screen, taking full advantage of the 3D format and consistently immersing the viewer within the stunning action.
Overall, ‘Doctor Strange’ offers some truly breathtaking action and numerous visually outstanding moments that are sure to impress, along with a fantastic portrayal of Dr. Stephen Strange by Benedict Cumberbatch who delves into the role in every regard and never fails to impress. Yet, even with many positive aspects to help it, the film unarguably has a good share of faults as well, such as painfully slow pacing at times and what feels like an overly stretched origin story that detracts from the opportunity to expand a bit further into the more exciting and mystical attributes. By no means a perfect film, it still offers a great deal of fun throughout much of it and introduces viewers to an exciting new area of the Marvel world. I would definitely recommend fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to make a point of checking it out when you’re able, it should at least be more than worth the cost of a rental for those understandably hesitant to drop the funds on a blind purchase.
The 3D Blu-ray release of ‘Doctor Strange’ features a full 1080p High Definition MVC encoded 3D presentation utilizing the varying Aspect Ratio of its IMAX 3D presentation, shifting between a 2.39:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio and an expanded 1.90:1 Aspect Ratio. The 3D Blu-ray presentation looks outstanding and the opening of the scope is surprisingly frequent throughout, allowing a more immersive and detailed presentation during the visually stunning moments and battle sequences with the 1.90:1 aspect ratio utilized. The 3D presentation delivers a consistently sharp, detailed and colorful presentation from start to finish, often with barrages of floating and moving/shifting landscapes that appear to leap straight out of the screen. The 3D video presentation holds up beautifully throughout and delivers a continually gorgeous and immersive experience with no notable faults to be found within.
The Cinematic Universe Edition (or 3D Combo Pack if you prefer) also includes the standard Blu-ray version of the film which features an AVC encoded full high definition video presentation of the movie, although maintaining a constant 2.39:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio for the 2D presentation. The standard Blu-ray presentation looks wonderful in its own right and offers a consistently clean, sharp and detailed presentation with no faults to be found within, at least throughout the few scenes and bits of the standard disc I was able to explore.
Overall, while both video presentations look fantastic and deliver gorgeous and nearly flawless presentations, the 3D Blu-ray is undoubtedly still the way to go for those who have the capability. The numerous stunning visual effects and mystical fight sequences perfectly compliment the 3D format and the 3D Blu-ray’s shifting aspect ratio which allows the scope to expand in numerous scenes only makes it all the more impressive and without a doubt the recommended viewing method.
The Blu-ray release (Both the 3D & 2D disc) features a lossless 7.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This lossless multichannel soundtrack sounds spectacular and offers a perfect complement to the visually stunning action and mind twisting visuals. It regularly utilizes all seven available channels in order to immerse the viewer within the mystical action, sending the groans of shifting buildings (which also tend to give the subwoofer a nice workout), exploding spells, and plenty more whipping throughout the various speakers in many scenes, yet never resulting in any dialogue or other auditory elements which might be occurring simultaneously to become distorted or rendered inaudible in the process. Overall, this is a fantastic 7.1 channel DTS-HD MA soundtrack that adds yet another level of excitement to the overall viewing experience and shouldn’t disappoint in any way.
The 3D Blu-ray release of ‘Doctor Strange’ includes a number of enjoyable and informative extras, the entirety of which can be found on the 2D Blu-ray disc (no extras are present on the 3D disc). Included on the release is an ‘Audio Commentary with Director Scott Derrickson’, in addition to nearly an hour’s worth of behind the scenes Featurettes that include behind the scenes footage, interviews/comments with the cast and crew, plus more, the included Featurettes are: ‘A Strange Transformation’ (running approximately 10 minutes in length), ‘Strange Company’ (running approximately 13 minutes), ‘The Fabric of Reality’ (approximately 13 minutes), ‘Across Time and Space’ (13 minutes), and ‘The Score-cerer Supreme (10 minutes). We are also treated to a ‘Marvel Studios Phase 3 Exclusive Look’ (approximately 7 minutes), and the goofy follow-up to the previously released spoof: ‘Team Thor: Part Two’ (5 minutes). A number of ‘Deleted and Extended Scenes’ (approximately 8 minutes altogether) and a ‘Gag Reel’ (4 minutes) for ‘Doctor Strange’ are also included.