Fish and Cherries Productions

Creative content from a mad mind.


Reel Snippet – Doctor Strange


Synopsis: Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is arrogant and prickly for a good reason: he’s the best neurosurgeon in the country, able to perform tasks with his own hands that other people would require machines for. This takes a turn for the tragic when a car accident renders his hands useless from nerve damage. Searching for answers, his trail leads him to Tibet, where a man named Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) brings him to the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) to learn the mystic arts. As he progresses in his studies, a former student of the Ancient One named Kaecilios (Mads Mikkelsen) works with his own cabal of practitioners to merge Earth with the Dark Dimension of Dormammu (Benedict Cumberbatch) in a misguided quest for immortality. Strange finds himself in the middle of it all and will have to peel through his ego and conceptions of reality if he is going to save himself and the world.

Review: Doctor Strange is an experience and I mean that in the best possible way. These are some of the most unique visuals I’ve ever seen in a movie, especially a superhero film. The filmmakers took some inspirations from Inception, but it gets a lot more psychedelic with kaleidoscope effects, surreal colors, and more outlandish effects than a hippie can sneeze at. The plot is fairly standard hero-saves-the-world-from-evil faire, but it has enough quirks and twists for it to still be interesting.

It may be difficult for viewers to watch Benedict Cumberbatch and not see an American Sherlock Holmes with his brilliance and attitude (even Cumberbatch made the comparison in an interview). I, however, find he has more in common with Tony Stark; both are brilliant people with attitude problems who become victims of their hubris and build themselves up through their newfound power to become better men. They even have adorable inanimate sidekicks, though I have to say that Strange’s Cloak of Levitation beats out the robotic arm from the Iron Man movies. Figures that the studio that made the carpet in Aladdin could do the same for another piece of fabric.

What really stands out is the usage of magic. In most movies, magic is depicted as a bunch of blasts, some fire getting thrown around, or loads of shimmer effects. Here, though, the magic warps reality itself, bending space, opening portals across the world, crossing dimensions, and even some great uses of astral projection (your soul leaves your body and does cool stuff). It really is a truly unique way of using magic that cinema doesn’t do very often. Speaking of unique, I love the way the conflict was resolved, being both clever, awesome, and very out of the box. What is it? Ohhhh, I’m not spoiling that. Not in a million years.

If I had one gripe about the movie, Rachel McAdams’ character seemed almost like a non-presence. She had her moments and I get that she’s supposed to be Strange’s tie to the mundane world, but she just felt like the least important character and that she barely had an impact. The villain’s not the greatest either, but the way he spoke gave off a threatening vibe that gave him a bit more staying power than others. The rest of the cast was pitch perfect, particularly Tilda Swinton, whose casting was a major source of controversy (the Ancient One in the comics is an Asian man) and yet hers was probably the best performance in the movie.

All in all, it’s a great blockbuster in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and a magical portal for those who aren’t familiar with the Sorcerer Supreme. It’s also good as a stand alone movie, not bogged down by references to other Marvel movies. I don’t know where I’d rank this next to giants like the Captain America movies, The Avengers, and Guardians of the Galaxy, but it’s definitely one of the great ones. Here’s hoping for a sequel or follow up that raises the stakes.

Fun Tidbit: It wouldn’t be a Marvel movie without a Stan Lee cameo (looking at you, Fantastic Four). Here, Strange and Mordo crash into the side of a bus where the man himself is reading a book. Maybe viewers couldn’t make it out because of how brief the scene was, but the book was The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley. The book is a philosophical essay detailing his psychedelic experience while taking peyote, which ties into the many visuals and concepts presented in the movie.

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