Hi everyone, Bryan here…
The next franchise in the Marvel Cinematic Universe comes with mystical and magical powers in ‘Doctor Strange‘, which is a damn good start to this new character. ‘Doctor Strange‘ was created by Steve Ditko and first appeared in Strange Tales #110 back in 1963. ‘Doctor Strange‘ or Stephen Strange is a highly intelligent surgeon who is in the top of his field. In an accident, he loses the use of his hands, which leads him to seek out alternate methods of healing. This brings him to a mystical and magical place across the globe where he meets ‘The Ancient One’ amongst other sorcerers that help him heal spiritually and physically.
Whatever Strange had learned or knew before this, is out the window, as he learns of other worlds, universes, and powers beyond imagination. Soon enough, Strange has to help defend Earth, much like ‘The Avengers‘ do, but on a different scale. While ‘The Avengers‘ keep us safe from big monstrous physical threats on Earth, ‘Doctor Strange’ protects us from magical and mystical threats from other worlds – which in due time, we will see everyone come together and team up to fight some evil forces. At least I hope. Filmmaker Scott Derrickson was chosen to direct ‘Doctor Strange‘, which seems like a “strange” (all the pun intended) decision given his resume, which includes mostly horror movies – ‘Deliver Us From Evil‘ and ‘Sinister‘ to name a few, but it turned out to be a great decision along with his writing partner C. Robert Cargill, who was formally a film critic from AintItCoolNews, who co-wrote this film.
The result is simply fantastic and a great start to the ‘Doctor Strange‘ universe. Derrickson and Cargill have done a swell job in conjuring up a great origin story and executing each character’s development here. From showing what kind of man Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) was to his transformation to the superhero we see later on – it all works. Cumberbatch is excellent too here, hitting all of the right emotional notes as well as performing the physical aspects of the role nicely. The script has a slow burn approach to it in the first half of the film, but is sprinkled with excellent comic bits and action sequences. This slower approach is necessary to really connect and feel for Strange and it works out perfectly, as if you went on this powerful journey together.
The only gripe I have, and mind you, it’s a small one, is the relationship between Strange and Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams), which feels rushed and tiresome, as it’s been done before. Perhaps, there just wasn’t enough time to really dig deep into it. Chiwetel Ejiofor as Karl Mordo was excellent and almost had a ‘Serenity‘ quality to him, but was a very conflicted character, and he performed that very well. Mads Mikkelsen as Kaecilius was also fun to watch, but not the best villain we’ve seen. His makeup looked great and he did a great job, but there needed to be something more from him. Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One was perfect for her role and Benedict Wong as Wong stole every scene he was in.
The visual effects were out of this world as some of the bigger action sequences had things I’ve never seen before in a movie. It was done on such a grand scale too that I was entranced in everything going on through the film. Now I’m not a fan of 3D, but if you have the option, see ‘Doctor Strange‘ in 3D. The visuals are insanely good and it was indeed filmed with 3D IMAX cameras, and not converted like most movies are these days. It simply looks phenomenal. I can’t wait for more ‘Doctor Strange‘.
The Video: ‘Doctor Strange‘ comes with a 1080p HD transfer and is presented in 2.39:1 aspect ratio. I really can’t wait for Disney to get into the 4K UHD game, because this film could have used that upgrade. The film was shot digitally, therefore the film has a softer look than it should. Not only that, this film has a dark and low lit look to it, meaning there isn’t any bright images, or at least bright primary colors that pop off screen throughout, which gives a somewhat murky look to many scenes here. That being said, the image still looks good though. Detail isn’t as sharp as it could be, with closeups looking smoother than normal in the actor’s faces and clothing on the costumes, but there are still some great detail to be seen here, especially in the well lit scenes outdoors. Colors look great here with bright reds and blues throughout. The orange fantasy elements look good as well, but nothing is eye popping as ‘Guardians of the Galaxy‘ or any recent 4K UHD release. Black levels can fluctuate, which is unfortunate, but the skin tones are natural. There were no major issues with any compression problems, but the black levels tend to show crush throughout.
The Audio: This release comes with a perfect lossless DTS-HD MA 7.1 mix and couldn’t sound better if it tried. This mix packs a punch for sure and is well layered and nuanced in every noise. Sound effects are robust, loud, and are a delight to hear around every corner. There is a heft in the low end as well, which gives this soundscape some excellent depth. That bass is never rocky, but smooth and forceful. The sound effects of every magical element, as well as the big action scenes are incredible with tons of directionality and heft. It doesn’t get better than this other than maybe a Dolby Atmos option. The score and music of the film is incredible and adds to every suspenseful moment without drowning out any other sound element. The dialogue is clear and easy to follow, and free of any pops, cracks, hiss, and shrills. This audio presentation is excellent.
Audio Commentary – Filmmaker Scott Derrickson delivers a fun and informative commentary track on the day before the world premiere of the film. He talks about the Marvel Cinematic Universe and how Doctor Strange fits in, as well as some of the technical aspects of the filmmaking process, casting, story, script, and visual effects. Definitely worth a listen.
A Strange Transformation (HD, 10 Mins.) – A behind the scenes that covers too many things in a short amount of time. The story, the cast, the locations, sets, action scenes, the superheroes origins, and Cumberbatch’s performance are all looked at here.
Strange Company (HD, 13 Mins.) – The supporting characters in the film and comic books are explored here, as well as the actors who portrayed them. In addition, Scott Derrickson’s career is discussed here too.
The Fabric of Reality (HD, 13 Mins.) – Costumes, set design, props, and locations are talked about here.
Across Time and Space (HD, 14 Mins.) – The fight choreography and stunts of the film are talked about, along with how the digital effects were used in some of the bigger actions scenes.
The Score-Cerer Supreme (HD, 10 Mins.) – Michael Giacchino is focused on here and his work on the music of the film.
Marvel Studios Phase 3 Exclusive Look (HD, 8 Mins.) – A brief looks at all the Marvel films and where Doctor Strange fits in, as well as some upcoming films from the MCU.
Team Thor: Part 2 (HD, 5 Mins.) – A very funny mockumentary of what Thor does in his spare time, when not saving the world. So great.
Deleted and Extended Scenes (HD, 8 Mins.) – There are five scenes that were left out, most of which should have been left in the film, due to more character development for Kaecilius.
Gag Reel (HD, 4 Mins.) – Some flubbed lines, missed cues, laughter, and mistakes from the set.
THE ULTIMATE WORD
‘Doctor Strange‘ is a fantastic film. At first, I didn’t think this would be as fun and entertaining as it was, but it completely exceeded my expectations and is one of the BEST Marvel films. Benedict Cumberbatch is fantastic as well and opens up a whole new world to the MCU. This is such a fun film to watch. The video presentation is good, but not the best. Come on Disney, get with the 4K UHD picture. The audio presentation is top notch on every level. The extras are all fun and worth watching too.