Reviewed in Canada on May 30, 2017
Doctor Strange is the story of world-famous neurosurgeon Dr. Stephen Strange ( Cumberbatch), whose life changes forever after a horrific car accident renders his hands useless. When traditional medicine fails, he travels to the remote Kamar- Taj in search of a cure, but instead discovers the mystical arts and becomes a powerful sorcerer battling the supernatural bent on destroying our reality. Based on the Marvel Comics by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. Doctor Strange, offers a more satisfying inner journey that is both relatable and well beyond the norms of traditional understanding. What mysteries lie beyond the reach of our senses? The movie is certainly better for it's character explorations and ideas than for it's cosmetic excellence, which is substantial and integral no doubt, action plays an important driving factor in the story and offers a balance to the more thoughtful elements that shape the narrative and character. Performances are excellent, too. Benedict Cumberbatch is obviously the star but he's also tasked with fleshing out a complex character, one whose transformation throughout the film-more of an inner transformation than an outer one, though, ironically, it's his journey for outer healing that makes the biggest impact on his inner well-being- is the driving force. Tilda Swinton captures an inner strength that's counter to her somewhat cooler, smoother, exterior, finding a character center that's the perfect, harmony and balance of all that Strange comes to understand and embrace. Mads Mikkelsen is an excellent villain who's lost his balance but not his powers, while both Benedict Wong and Chiwetel Ejiofor are great as supporting characters. With Benjamin Bratt, Rachel McAdams, Scott Adkins in supporting roles. The 2:39:1 1080p was photographed in Panavision. The picture exhibits a wonderful production design with impressive depth, particularly in the larger set pieces. Overhead cityscapes and shifting landscapes, including the winding road on which Doctor Strange has his accident are spectacular. The imagery is dark in several scenes and a darkened viewing environment is required. In the darkness only highlights are discernible, and shadow delineation is restricted in depth. The darkness must be inherent in the interior environment of Kamar-Taj, as to what lighting there is, the glow is dim. As a result contrast is limited. Within this limitation the color palette has an overall drab character. Hues are essentially desaturated. Still, flesh tones retain their naturalness. Outside of Kamar-Taj such as the urban settings, mountain tops, desert, ocean, and Doctor Strange's operating room settings exhibit a natural presence and color fidelity is far more vibrant. Resolution is quite good, revealing fine detail in close-ups of facial features, hair, clothing, object textures, but backgrounds are softly focused. The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 channel soundtrack is strongly dynamic with a powerful orchestral/choral score that extends very wide across the soundstage and fully occupies the 7.1 channels. Atmospherics and sound effects are incredibly powerful and directionalized with aggressive envelopment, which nicely enhances the largest scale, bending, and off-kilter action sequences. Sound effects are enhanced with deep, sub 25 hz .1 LFE bass extension. The music and sound effects, as well as atmospherics, are well integrated with both nuanced low-level and powerful dynamic energy that ignites all 8 channels. Dialogue is at times wanting in spatial integration but is overall intelligible throughout. Overall, this is a powerfully dynamic sounding soundtrack with exciting directionalized sound effects that deliver a sense of intense mayhem. Doctor Strange is no doubt the most fundamentally thought provoking film in Marvel's Cinematic Universe. It's more than just action-filler and special effects, offering an interesting journey through the human condition, a spectacular one to be certain and one far detached from the reality that man understands. It's a film that requires more than one viewing to truly appreciate, but it is, perhaps one of the most, fundamentally fascinating film of the bunch. Disney's Blu-ray offers excellent video, top notch audio, a nice assortment of extras. Highly Recommended.