Review: Doctor Strange Tests the Creative Boundaries of CGI

By November 12, 2016Reviews

Dr. Strange – OK, it’s not what I expected. Sure – I’ve seen all the Marvel franchise films and as reliable as they’ve become, they’re also pretty much what I expected them to be. Lots of CGI with a serviceable story weaving it’s way through it. Don’t get me wrong – for sure Dr. Strange has a ton of CGI, but this time around, there’s something more creative going on. Its CGI that magnificently warps city streets, and turns buildings into amazing kaleidoscope mazes. It uses this wonderful digital technology to do things that only digital technology can do.

Blowing up a street, a car crash – these kinds of scenes used to be created on sound stages. And now it’s all done via CGI. Nice for sure, but it’s not really using the technology to its fullest. Making a city morph and warp, creating a crazy mirrored dimension – those things just can’t be built on a back lot. Even the weaponry in Dr. Strange, uses digital technology to create an incredible arsenal, that just can’t be built by the prop department. It’s all extremely cool and imaginative. The CGI alone, makes Dr. Strange a spectacular film to watch.

Oddly enough, Dr. Strange is also timely, as it taps smack dab into today’s culture of new-age/yoga/spirituality. And then of course it butts right up against the world of the exactness and precision of science. It’s really the catalyst of the film. Dr. Strange can’t find the answers from the medical community, which he’s at the pinnacle of, so he begins to take a couple of steps outside the world he embraces. It’s the classic – arrogant know it all, who now has to shed the science he once trusted, to train and learn about astral planes, mirror dimensions and the infinite time-loop. The infinite time-loop being key.

I enjoyed the cast – no one out shone the other, which I think is one of the marks of a good film. Cast members who are of unequal skill and talent, can throw a film off balance. Benedict Cumberbatch brings the right level of arrogance/humility to the role and even pulls off the American accent. Sometimes UK actors let a bit of the British come out in certain phrasing, but I certainly didn’t catch any slip ups. Chiwetel Ejiofor is the devoted good guy and you just know he’s going to turn south. Rachael McAdams was Dr. Strange’s former love interest and brings her Canadian charm to her role and always does the right thing. Mads Millelsen’s is not so much a villain as he is a bad guy, and he’s certainly bad enough. I enjoy the talents of Tilda Swinton and thought she might out muscle the others, but she didn’t. 

And speaking of muscle, even though this is a film about the ultimate fight – saving the human race. The fight scenes are more about inner strength with little emphasis about how much muscle is brought to the table. 

There are spattering of contemporary humor and references to pop-culture – which are always nice when used sparingly – and they fit naturally and are injected into the script at the right times. As with all Marvel movies, you have to stay and watch the credits; because there are two great reveals interspersed. 

I went to see this film not knowing anything about Dr. Strange, the character that Marvel Comics created, so I can’t comment on whether he’s true to the original. If he is great and if he’s not – it’s still a very entertaining film.