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‘Doctor Strange’ thrills with its cinematic brilliance

By Santiago Montoya

Section: Arts

November 11, 2016

Unlike many other superhero movies, “Doctor Strange” translates well from the pages of comic books to the movie screen.

Often times, some comic books should never make it to film, especially nowadays, when it seems as though Marvel Studios has covered pretty much everything there is to cover. But “Doctor Strange” proves to have it all with its vivid and interesting characters and plot.

Before he met the Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Stephen Vincent Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) was an unlikable and egotistical neurosurgeon. Everything changes when a car accident limits Strange’s use of his hands. Traditional medicine fails him and it sends him on a maddening quest for a miracle cure.

The film is a perfect demonstration of how some comics actually look better in live action than on the pages themself. One of the reasons is that the movie’s intergalactic travel and the fights in the astral plane scenes were crafted incredibly well, a wonderful demonstration of the CGI use—portrayed better in motion picture. In fact, the special effects were awe-inspiring and breathtaking. The only way to actually enjoy the outstanding visuals is by going to watch it in IMAX 3D.

The score, by Michael Giacchino, is also nuanced and surprising. His music is not like the typical John Williams or Thomas Newman soundtracks, where you instantly recognize them because of their artistic signatures. Giacchino’s soundtrack fits perfectly well in “Doctor Strange,” just the way his cape does.

“Doctor Strange” will not exactly win an Academy Award for its screenplay. The script writers could have thrown a few more clues among other details into the film. Plus, it is a bit too similar to any other Marvel screenplay. Even so, this does not mean the film is not genuinely groundbreaking. The main message to take away is that if you ever hit a wall, in some cases literally, like Doctor Strange’s accident, and there is no way to go further, sometimes it is important to change what you believe in and who you are.

The material is elevated by the stellar cast, including Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton, Benedict Wong and others, not to mention that this film has finally made Cumberbatch a movie star. He has long been a celebrity, but one does not earn “movie star” status until the actor in a leading role can dominate at the box office, and that is exactly what “Doctor Strange” did on its opening weekend.

Rachel McAdams character lost me, though. Unlike many previous Marvel love interest sidekicks, Christine Palmer (McAdams) has a professional career, as a fellow surgeon of Strange. Notwithstanding, the sidekick, female love interest is an old trope that has been used enough already. The character is so terribly written. Palmer possesses flirtatious energy, but she is only a prop for when Strange needs her.

In addition, there were some concerns about cultural appropriation and the questioning of whitewashing in a film that promotes Eastern religion and studies, yet most of the roles were played by Western actors. While the film still has other cinematic achievements, this is something Marvel should work on for potential sequels.

Ultimately, it is clear why “Doctor Strange” is dominating at the box office—a captivating plot, masterful special effects, an intense score and an incredible cast make the film worth a watch.

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