Welcome to The Mundane Adventures of a Fangirl

I consider myself a Fangirl. What does that mean, you ask? A "fanboy" in the most common understanding is a hardcore fan of 'genre' based entertainment in particular. In my case - science-fiction and comic book based movies and television. Because I'm a chick - it's fangirl, not fanboy. There you have it! I am a big movie fan, however, not necessarily a 'film' fan. And now - I have the forum to present my opinions to the public! These will mainly be movie reviews -that will always be my opinion - repeat OPINION. Just what I think, and in no way do I present my opinion as fact. I hope you enjoy and maybe it will help you decide what to see at the movie theater this weekend!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Movie Review: Doctor Strange (PG13 – 115 minutes)

Doctor Strange is a Marvel comic hero created by Steve Ditko and Stan Lee, and he debuted in Strange Tales #110 in 1963. He was a former neurosurgeon who becomes the Sorcerer Supreme – which is basically a fancy name for a dude who protects earth against magical and mystical threats. 

Over the course of the late 60s and early 70s, Strange became popular with college students, and many people thought the creators were high on mushrooms, LSD, or other hallucinogens, since the mystic realms in the books looked very psychedelic (the creators all deny this).  He also connected with the youth counter-culture of the time, and their fascination not only with psychedelia but also with Eastern mysticism.

Doctor Strange has been mentioned here and there in the MCU a few times, most notably when Jasper Sitwell namechecks him in Captain America, Winter Soldier – as a person that Hydra considers ‘a threat’.  He's also been on several of the Marvel Animated series.

This movie is his origin story and a strong stand-alone piece - prepping us before adding the good doctor into other MCU movies so that he can help the Avengers when necessary.

The story starts by introducing us very briefly to Kaecillius and his followers as they break into the fanciest library ever, which is located in Kamar-Taj. They steal a few pages from a book containing a ritual.  The Ancient One attempts to stop them, but Kaecillius escapes.  When then jump to New York to meet Stephen Strange, acclaimed neurosurgeon.  He’s repairing all kinds of high-profile brain injuries and feeling pretty god-like and powerful about it.  His ego is completely out of control, and so is his fancy watch collection.  He’s got more money than he knows what to do with, and that’s not making him any nicer of a guy.  He’s snarky with Christine Palmer, his ex – who is an E.R. doctor in the same hospital. 

Once night, on his way to a speaking engagement, he runs his Lamborghini off the road and ends up nearly destroying his hands.  Devastated by the inability to do his work, he spends almost his complete fortune trying to fix his hands. When that doesn’t work, he happens across the story of a man who had near complete paralysis, but regained the ability to walk after visiting Kamar-Taj in Nepal.

Strange heads to Nepal, and is eventually taken in by the Ancient One, after first getting all high and mighty about how he doesn’t believe anything she is telling him.  Once he starts to believe, he throws himself into his studies of both martial and mystical arts, swiftly becoming one of the best sorcerers in Kamar-Taj.  Working with Mordo – and after stealing some spells from the librarian, Wong, he accidentally discovers what they are really doing.  Wong and Mordo tell Strange that they are protecting the world from extra-dimensional threats and that Kaecillius is attempting to bring Dormammu from the Dark Dimension to earth – in a misguided attempt to save it.  The three connected mystical sanctums on earth, one in London, one in New York, and one in Hong Kong, have to fall for Dormammu to arrive.  After London falls, Strange has an interesting conversation with Kaecillius while attempting to defend the New York Sanctum, where he accidentally is claimed by the cloak of Levitation.  Then, he, Mordo, and Wong attempt to make a final stand against Kaecillius at the Hong Kong Sanctum.

Directed by Scott Derrickson, this movie is fast and fun.  It’s absolutely an origin story, so you do go on the entire journey with Strange as he learns about his powers and the best way to use them, and most importantly, that not everything is all about him!  The effects are astounding, ILM really outdid themselves and you should definitely see it in 3D.  I loved the sentience of the Cloak of Levitation - it provides for some genuinely funny moments.  In fact, the movie in general is far more fun than I was expecting!  Like most Marvel movies, it’s exceptionally well-cast.

  • I was originally against the casting of Benedict Cumberbatch, as I felt (and still do) that Oded Fehr would have been a better Doctor Strange, however, I have to say – he did a wonderful job.  It’s tough to make that big a tool of a character seem fun and engaging (this is why only RDJ can play Tony Stark).  He is elegant, and determined, and his journey from narcissist to hopelessness back to confidence is really well done. Plus, he totally won me over when he went into a New York City comic book store and bought Doctor Strange comics when in full Doctor Strange costume.  Wonderful.

  • Chiwetel Ejiofor continues to be fantastic as Mordo – he hasn’t reached Baron yet in this movie.  He helps train Strange in the ways of sorcery, and is his strongest ally in the fight against Kaecillius.  However, if you’re familiar with Mordo at all from the comics/animated series, you know that won’t last.  There is a moment that breaks Mordo a bit, and be sure to stay all the way through the credits (all the way) so that you see what direction he will head once he is devastated.

  • Rachel McAdams plays Christine Palmer, and she felt the most relatable.  Her reaction to Strange once he comes back from his escapades in Tamar-Kaj is truly hilarious.  She’s still angry, but can’t help but be awed by his new powers.

  • British actor Benedict Wong – who is the reason you should be watching Marco Polo on Netflix (he steals that show) plays Wong, and is wonderfully powerful and charming.  Wong in the original comics was a fairly offensive Asian stereotype of the times, and here, he’s been elevated to a really interesting and powerful character. I can’t wait to see what he does in further adventures.

  • Mads Mikkelsen is a wonderful villain, mostly because there are moments when he is explaining his plan that you almost feel like he’s the good guy.  He’s certainly the good guy in his own version of the story, and Mikkelsen manages to give him more depth than your standard origin story baddie.

  • Tilda Swinton plays the Ancient One, and yes, while there was some backlash against casting a white woman in a role that was traditionally an old Asian man in the comics, she does a really great job.  She is so engaging, interesting, and fascinating.  The movie implies that she is not the first Ancient One, nor will she be the last, so the Ancient One is more of a title than an actual character.  She’s referred to as a Celtic, with no other information.  She’s hard and tough when necessary, and kind and nurturing when necessary; she really is instrumental in helping Strange realize that his world can be and needs to be widened beyond his own existence.

  • Benjamin Bratt plays Jonathan Pangborn, the man who was paralyzed and is now magically (literally) not.  He’s the one who sends Strange on his path to Kamar-Taj.  He’s so wonderful that I really wanted more of him in this movie.
  • And yes, you do get to see Dormammu for just a bit, and yes, that is Cumberbatch doing the voice and facial capture.

The movie is so much more fun than I expected, it moves really fast, the action is great, and the effects are even better.  Go see it in 3D, stay all the way through the credits, and get ready for GOTG 2 this coming May 5th!

9 out of 10  Bonus points for Strange continuing to try to make Wong laugh.  Lost points for not enough Benjamin Bratt.  Gained points for Strange and Wong seeming to move into the New York Sanctum at the end of the movie, so excited for what comes next!

Cast Interviews

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