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Does 'Dr. Strange' have what it takes to hang with the cool superheroes?

Posted November 7

Marvel's DOCTOR STRANGE

Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch)

Photo Credit: Film Frame 

(c)2016 Marvel. All Rights Reserved. (Deseret Photo)

MARVEL WORLD — This week, we see the newest expansion of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the introduction of “Dr. Strange.”

With no shortage of superheros and concurrent plot lines, it is understandable if you are less than enthusiastic about getting involved with a new Marvel superhero who you are probably not that familiar with. Without the brand name recognition of Ironman or obvious superpower of the Hulk, it's easy to assume Dr. Strange is not going to be relatable to you as a superhero. At least this was the case for me.

Before I walked into "Dr. Strange," my biggest exposure to the Dr. Strange character was the movie poster. After I walked out of the movie, I felt like I knew a guy that I could count on to save the world if it came down to it. There are a lot of things to like about this movie, so let’s get started with the highlights.

Incredible visual effects

From the very first scene, "Dr. Strange" sets itself apart from the other movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It starts with an entire city that is rotated and turned in on itself like an M.C. Escher painting during an early chase scene that is reminiscent of the movie “Inception.” There were so many changes of perspective and direction that I lost track of where I was supposed to be in physical space, making me wonder how it was possible for the animators and editors to keep everything straight as they created this world.

The unique feel of this movie was carried through with even less noticeable things such as color pallet and wardrobe. One of the most memorable scenes of any action movie that I have seen is a sequence toward the end of the film in which time is manipulated to create a really cool effect. But I won’t say anymore about it to let you experience it for yourself without any spoilers.

Fresh new superpowers

I’ll admit I am usually reluctant to accept superpowers that are not in some way based in the physical world. Psychic powers are less tangible and don't have a basic point of reference in the physical world within which to frame them, so they are harder to accept. (And yes, I realize I am saying this while talking about imaginary people in an alternate reality.)

My first concern going into "Dr. Strange" was that I wouldn't be convinced as to why I should accept his psychic abilities as believable. It wasn’t until after the movie, I realized that I had fully accepted his powers as legitimate without ever being conscious of the explanation. The credit here goes to the screenwriters who were able to weave this into the movie without me being aware of the process.

Top shelf cast

"Dr. Strange" has a bench deep with talent, starting with Academy Award nominated Benedict Cumberbatch ("Imitation Game"), Academy Award winner Tilda Swinton ("Moonrise Kingdom") and Academy Award nominated Chiwetel Ijiofor ("12 Years a Slave".) The potential with this cast was not lost as sometimes is the case when several actors at this level work together. Each played their role opposite the other while adding depth and believability to an overall story that was somewhat shallow.

3-D as a tool not a gimmick

There are only a handful of films that I would truly say 3-D added to the overall value of the movie: "Avatar," "Life of Pi" and "Gravity." And now I’m adding "Dr. Strange" to that list.

I was fortunate to see the movie in IMAX 3-D which gave me the full cinematic experience as I think it was intended. Since this movie is based upon the perception of time and space, the 3-D component was very effective in helping with that illusion. I know 3-D isn’t for everyone and not everybody will get to see it in 3-D or on an IMAX screen, but if you get the chance and don’t mind wearing the dumb looking glasses, you should try it. There are a few scenes that are heavy with a kaleidoscope effect that do get a bit overwhelming, so maybe look away if you tend to get car sick.

Conclusion

"Dr. Strange" adds a unique dimension to the sprawling Marvel Cinematic Universe as it spirals towards the big Infinity War story arc. There is a lot to see in this movie which as it turns out is a lot of fun to watch. The story, unfortunately is a little generic and could have been the plot to any number of movies in the same genre, but there is enough story to build a solid movie on that is visually phenomenal, very well acted, and will keep you fully invested.

If you are a parent and wondering how appropriate "Dr. Strange" will be for your children, check out John Clyde’s article on Saturday to learn what you should be aware of.

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