Blu Tuesday: Doctor Strange and More
Every Tuesday, I review the newest Blu-ray releases and let you know whether they’re worth buying, renting or skipping, along with a breakdown of the included extras. If you see something you like, click on the cover art to purchase the Blu-ray from Amazon, and be sure to share each week’s column on social media with your friends.
Arguably one of the weirder properties under the Marvel banner, “Doctor Strange” marries its inventive visuals – from the colorful, kaleidoscopic imagery to the physics-bending action sequences – with the usual superhero story beats to deliver the best solo origin movie since “Iron Man.” Benedict Cumberbatch is pitch-perfect as the cocky yet charming title character, while the rest of the cast (particularly Tilda Swinton) turn in great work. Though the film never strays too far from the tried-and-true Marvel formula, it’s not afraid to get a little weird either, embracing the absurdity of the material with a knowing wink, as if to say, “Are you having fun yet?” And “Doctor Strange” is nothing if not fun, balancing the headier stuff with a strong dramatic core and a dash of humor to create an excellent addition to the genre.
Extras include an audio commentary by director Scott Derrikson, five production featurettes, deleted scenes, a gag reel, the short film “Team Thor: Part 2” and a sneak peek at Marvel’s Phase Three. FINAL VERDICT: BUY
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Movie Review: “Doctor Strange”
Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton, Mads Mikkelsen, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong
Like many of the filmmakers involved in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Scott Derrickson (who’s best known for horror films like “Sinister”) may not seem like the obvious choice to direct a “Doctor Strange” movie. Then again, it’s pretty amazing that a film called “Doctor Strange” exists at all, because it’s arguably one of the weirder properties under the Marvel banner. That uniqueness ends up working in its favor, however, as Derrickson has basically made a psychedelic kung fu/fantasy movie that is without question the most visually stunning film that Marvel has ever produced. Joining the ranks of other B-list characters like Ant-Man and the Guardians of the Galaxy, “Doctor Strange” marries its inventive visuals with the usual superhero story beats to deliver the best solo origin movie since director Jon Favreau kicked off the MCU with “Iron Man.”
The two films have a lot in common, beginning with their titular characters. Like Tony Stark, Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a bit of an egomaniac – a brilliant neurosurgeon whose own hubris leads to his downfall. After he’s injured in a near-fatal car accident that renders his hands unusable, Strange tries every surgery and experimental treatment available in an attempt to save his career. When traditional medicine fails him, the bitter and defeated Strange goes looking for a miracle cure in Nepal, where he’s introduced to the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), a powerful sorcerer who commands a mysterious order of warrior monks, including Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Wong (Benedict Wong), charged with protecting Earth from supernatural threats. Though Strange is skeptical at first, the Ancient One opens his mind to the infinite power and knowledge that the universe contains, ultimately taking him on as a student of the mystic arts. But after a former acolyte named Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) steals a forbidden ritual from the Ancient One and goes rogue, amassing his own army of zealots to bring about world destruction, Strange must put aside his selfishness to help stop him.
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