Saturday, 22 October 2016
REVIEW: DOCTOR STRANGE
115 Mins. Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Mads Mikkelsen & Tilda Swinton. Director: Scott Derrikson.
Strange days hit Marvel as the superhero franchise force finally shows some love to their cosmic-book 'Dr. Strange' fellow in their Avenger roll call to 'Infinity' schedule. And it's time you made an appointment too. Go see the Benedict Cumberbatch, 'Doctor Strange' tale to astonish. Because this sorceror really is supreme. This in 'Inception' on an hallucinogenic, medicated by a 'Matrix' meets 'Batman Begins' origin story. From the strange clouds of the Empire State Building and Big Ben skyline (they like to get the landmarks) folding and falling into themselves like a skyscraper shard of glass cats cradle. To Far East in a flash, Hong Kong neon, cyberpunk kaleidoscopes and martial art lessons with your inner self on a whole other astral plane. You'll feel like you took the red pill, whilst patting your jacket pocket for your spinning thimble top dose of reality. Doctor, doctor! This really is strange. But then again this is from the Marvel that brought us a man that could shrink down to the size of an ant (when he's not scaling the airport heights of a skyscraper), not to mention a talking Racoon and tree (It's like they said in 'Iron Man 3', "since the big guy with the hammer fell out the sky, subtely's kind of had its day"!). I am no longer surprised...or at least I wasn't until I watched this Potter. You're a wizard Benedict! And a fine one too! This hero takes us higher with more than Iron coming out his fist as he stands psychedelic watch over Spider-Man's New York's Greenwich Village, whilst Hells Kitchen's Defenders take care of themselves and those chilling with Netflix. Time to take your face out your phone though because this smart blockbuster is beautifully built for immaculate IMAX inspirations. And as the Summer season of 'Civil War' fighting blockbusters give way to the 'Star Wars' of the fall this rogue is the one who really has the force. Strange...but true.
Marvel have introduced a lot of their iconic comic characters to the cinematic universe this year with great success. From the bullet punishing Frank Castle to the black power of Luke Cage. Not to mention their first African superhero, the Black Panther and the one and only, superior Spider-Man and his real Marvel 'Homecoming'. But now it's Mr. Dr. Steven Strange's turn and who are we to judge? This Sorceror has had a spell with Marvel and on us since the middle of the last century...his comic books now sacred text. And who better to play him than an English 'Bard who has played Hamlet? If you thought that Marvel taking the classicaly trained Tom Hiddleston for their scheming Loki was an acting steal than you aint seen nothing yet. As after Robert Downey Jr., another 'Sherlock' star with a goatee makes his new home, trading bowler hat for cape and Baker Street for N.Y.C. as he plays another rich genius, humbled by life changing injury and a great responsibility of powers with his sense of accomplishment American twang accenting the arrogance. And with this Doc op, Benedict Cumberbatch, who made a crazy jacked, iconic Khan villain as he plunged 'Star Trek' 'Into Darkness' and was an inferno of a flame throwing voice in 'The Hobbit's' desolation as Smaug is really still on fire here in line with the good guys once again like a nice English gentelman like him should always be. 'The Imitation Game' Academy graduate turns the firework spiral with his life-size replica of an icon from a 'flowers in your hair' time when everyone was caught in the psychedelia of Hendrix's haze. The perfect Strange. From his weird and wonderful look and feel of character, taylor made towards Steven and by the hairs on his chinny chin chin and the seams of his cloak of levitation that is what makes Cumberbatch stranger and in no danger of losing his power. Surgically precise in his perspective of performance, Benedict has a doctorate in it. He could even evict House, setting up his own sanctum as the future face of this franchisee of a Stan Lee father franchise. Now what sorcery is this?
This is the sorcerers apprentice and with plenty of magic up his sleeve Cumberbatch's Strange has the Academy perfect cast of characters in support that are just what the Doctor ordered. Cumberbatch's '12 Years A Slave' co-star Chiwetel Ejiofor switches to sidekick role in the pairs less than Oscar dramatic reunion...but oh how fun it is this time. The ever underrated Ejiofor brings subtle but distinct defintions to understated and understanding supporting character...aswell as the wifi password. As does 'The Martian' and character actor Benedict Wong who doesn't even need to change his last name. But it's the always terrific Tilda Swinton going against traditonal type in a stereo sonic role as she brings a new dimension to the mentoring Ancient One. With the numbers and experience to do it however many are calling Matt Damon 'Great Wall' like whitewashing b.s., but they can't see the real reason for reversing stereotype (like with Wong's comic serveant, come cinematic sorcerer) or the empowering gender role reversal in a Hollywood and critical circuit ignorant to that too. This isn't Emma Stone in 'Aloha' HELLO! Add another or Ryan Gosling's leading ladies Rachel McAdams in a 24/7 E.R. night nursing character (assisted somewhat by the inclusion of inspired 'The Infiltrator' star Benjamin Bratt), that is more superheroine than medicine woman and you have a lot of strong female characters from actresses who you wouldn't expect anything less from. All these Ziggy Stardust heroes need is a villain. And who better than a Bond one? As Mads Mikkelsen is weeping from the eyes again, giving Marvel two Hannibals alongside Odinson Anthony Hopkins to go against their twin Sherlock's (at least we've got a Watson in 'Civil War's' Martin Freeman. Now hey Jude join the band...Mr. Napkin head origin story anyone?!). And between this terrifyingly terrific villain and his Rogue 'Star Wars' character, not to mention having the best quip of your quntiessential fun Marvel banter, it's Mads world now. All these 'Strange' occurences are brought to the comic-book wall breaking life of our most vivid imaginations and what more would you expect from 'Sinister' director Scott Derrikson delivering us from metaphysical evil, who knows how to bring us alternate realities so fascinating their frightening? As Marvel's quack (no not Howard the Duck) teleports through New York and Asgard like realms of space and time at an 'Adjustment Bureau' portal pace, this visual and visceral masterstroke is the perfect prescription. More than cape cookie-cutter for your browsing superhero history, all told this is more than mere smoke and mirrors. But now 'Doctor Strange' has shown himself on the grandest, cinematic scale can he prove as powerful as the Avengers fantastic four force of Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and The Incredible Hulk? Stranger things have happened. TIM DAVID HARVEY.