FlixChatter Review: Doctor Strange (2016)

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I have to admit I wasn’t really anticipating this movie at all. I wasn’t familiar with this character at all and honestly, I have grown a bit tired of seeing Benedict Cumberbatch, though I did like him before he was super famous from playing Sherlock. Now it’s no fault of his but I tend to lose interest fast when an actor becomes overexposed.

In any case, I still went into the screening expecting to be entertained. To a degree, Doctor Strange was a pretty fun movie with some humorous moments. Yet I feel that it treads such familiar grounds. It’s basically similar to Iron Man‘s origin story, but with magic thrown in. We also got a hero who started out as a rich, arrogant genius who suffered a major accident. They also extend their hand just so to exert their power. Perhaps because Iron Man was still a bit of a novelty when it came out 8 years ago in 2008, it made a lot more impact to me and Robert Downey Jr’s performance was quite indelible.

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Stephen Strange’s journey all the way to the Himalayas also reminds me of Batman Begins. But instead of an East-Asian character as The Ancient One, Strange’s spiritual mentor is now a bald woman of Celtic origin with posh British accent (Tilda Swinton). To be honest, all the quantum physics and mysticism concept are lost on me. It was some gobbledygook that never became involving enough to me, though I did get a kick out of the rather comedic Cloak of Levitation. I think my favorite part in the entire movie is when the cloak attaches itself to Strange as he walks on, it was a moment he sort of becomes a superhero.

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Just like the lead, the supporting cast are full of massively accomplished actors. Fellow Oscar-nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor and British actor Benedict Wong are both in the camp of the Ancient One who became Strange’s allies. It’s rare to see an actor named Benedict to begin with, let alone having TWO of them in the same movie! I love the interactions between the two Benedicts, though the Beyonce/Adele joke seems rather out of place in this universe. There’s also the talented Mads Mikkelsen, once again sporting weird eye makeup as a villain, but he’s nowhere near as menacing nor effective as he did in Casino Royale. There is very little character development in this movie and none of the relationships elicit any kind of emotion, especially the one between him and fellow surgeon Christine (a wasted Rachel McAdams). That said, Cumberbatch himself acquits himself well in the role. He certainly has that ‘cocky genius’ thing down pat, though I wouldn’t call Doctor Strange my fave Marvel superhero by a long stretch.

As for the visual effects. I think it’s to be expected that a $165 mil movie would deliver something great to look at. The space visuals is reminiscent of Guardians of the Galaxy, whilst the whole folding architecture thing is slightly more robust than what we’ve seen in Inception. The movie has a a Groundhog day-style finale with a character encountering death over and over again, going against an entirely CG character, a nemesis called Dormammu that’s apparently also voiced by Cumberbatch. It was kind of a ho-hum ending to me, it was neither intriguing nor emotional in the slightest. The plot seems predictable and seems rather ‘convenient,’ and not once do I feel that the hero was in any great danger.

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I generally like Marvel movies, even those I was initially skeptical about like Thor. But overall I was underwhelmed by Doctor Strange. I think it could’ve been a much better film, or at least just a tad more thought-provoking instead of just mildly entertaining. The script (partly written by director Scott Derrickson) just wasn’t provocative, thought provoking nor memorable. I’m feeling generous in rating this one because I do like the cast, though the movie probably more of a 2.5/5 for me. I think it’s one of the weakest MCU movies so far, and I’m honestly flabbergasted by the high Rotten Tomatoes rating! (But then again I think their algorithm is botched. I mean the same exact rating from two reviewers can be fresh or rotten, huh??) In any case, there’s a post-credit scene but by then I have lost interest in this inevitable franchise entirely.

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So, what are your thoughts on ‘Doctor Strange’?

Five for the Fifth: APRIL 2016 Edition

Welcome to FlixChatter’s primary blog series! As is customary for this monthly feature, I get to post five random news item/observation/poster, etc. and then turn it over to you to share your take on that given topic. You can see the previous five-for-the-fifth posts here.

1. Ok let’s start off with some on-set photos from Doctor Strange that have been bombarding my Twitter feeds this weekend…

Honestly I don’t know much about this character at all, but given the cast I’m intrigued. No I’m not one of the Cumberbitches, though I think Benedict Cumberbatch is a good actor. But I do love Chiwetel Ejiofor and Mads Mikkelsen so their involvement made me more excited about this project. The Jedi-inspired costumes are, well, interesting… they looks so bright and colorful in these pics but I’m sure they’ll darken it in post-production.

So are you excited for Marvel’s ‘Doctor Strange’ and do you think Cumberbatch is a good casting choice?
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2. A couple of intriguing new trailers that caught my eye…

The Lost City of Z

Based on the 2009 nonfiction by David Grann, the story centers on early 20th century explorer Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam), who disappeared while searching of the lost city in the Amazon in 1925, and Grann’s attempts to find out what happened to Fawcett, by visiting the Amazon himself (per Screenrant).

The pairing of Hunnam and Robert Pattinson as Grann is intriguing, both are good looking Brits who’s not afraid to take riskier roles.

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Pattinson especially is keen in hiding his looks, this time under hideous facial hair. Sienna Miller plays his wife and Spider-man du jour Tom Holland also stars. Not too familiar w/ director James Gray‘s work however, as I’ve only seen The Immigrant which was pretty good but a little on the slow side.

Elvis & Nixon

Now this one I’ve blogged about back in February when the first still was released. Apparently the Nixon & Elvis photo was the most-requested photo from the US Archive. Now we’ve got a trailer! I don’t know about you, but this is the kind of movie to see just for this duo alone.

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Ok so neither Kevin Spacey nor Michael Shannon really resemble the real people they’re portraying, esp. Shannon as Elvis, but like Michael Fassbender with Steve Jobs, the most important thing is he captured the essence of the character. It’s also directed by a woman, Liza Johnson, which is always a big plus in my book.

So what are your thoughts about either one of these trailers?

3. Ok I already mentioned this on my March recap post, but right now I’m about halfway done with the Len Deighton spy novel SS-GB that’s similar to Amazon’s Man in the High Castle but set in London. It’s an alternative history novel and the novel’s title refers to the branch of the Nazi SS that controls Britain. It’s a real page-turner and I absolutely can’t wait to watch the BBC’s 5-part miniseries with Sam Riley as the protagonist Douglas Archer, a British homicide detective assigned to Scotland Yard.

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The spy-pedigree is a strong one given that the miniseries is written by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, who’ve written a bunch of Bond movies. I do hope it’s more Casino Royale than Spectre though. It’s got a largely European cast, but Kate Bosworth has joined the cast as an American journalist who’s also Archer’s love interest. I’ll be sure to blog more about this once the trailer’s been released.

Of course there are a plethora of other projects out there based on a novel.

So which book adaptation currently in development are you looking forward to the most?
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4. It seems there are a lot of music biopics released around the same time. Last night I finally saw the Chet Baker biopic Born to Be Blue. The internet connection at home was terrible so the online screener kept stalling but I stuck it out and my patience was rewarded. It’s an affecting and beautifully-acted biopic, featuring stellar performances from Ethan Hawke and Carmen Ejogo. Interestingly enough, his rival Miles Davis’ is getting a cinematic treatment as well with Don Cheadle as Miles. Both Born to Be Blue and Miles Ahead are unconventional biopics that don’t try to cram the entire span of their lives but focused on a certain timeframe.


There are female music icon biopics as well. We’ve got the documentary AMY last year and the Nina Simone movie NINA which controversial casting has been all over the media recently. Not sure what’s behind the biopic boom but I think music biopics have always been marketable.

So which musical artist do you wish would get their own biopic?

5. This month Five for the Fifth’s guest is Table9Mutant from Cinema Parrot Disco blog! Well, as The Walking Dead finale just aired this weekend, and a lot of you are likely to be anticipating the latest season of Game of Thrones, it’s most appropriate to have a TV-related question this month.

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Now, as those two shows are known for killing off its characters, we’d like to know…

Which character would you most like to see killed off in any current TV show?


Well, that’s it for the April edition of Five for the Fifth, folks. Now, please pick a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all! 😀