DOCTOR STRANGE Blu-ray review by Mark Walters – Marvel’s weird hero works magic at home too

DOCTOR STRANGE Blu-ray review by Mark Walters – Marvel’s weird hero works magic at home too


DOCTOR STRANGE hits Blu-ray and DVD this week, and we got a chance to check out the Blu-ray, which also contains some nice bonus content. Our full review and breakdown is below. The transfer is quite impressive and the slick production of the film really benefits from the Blu-ray treatment, making the film more vibrant and colorful than I remember it being in the theater. The sound mix is rather superb too, really utilizing every channel of your surround sound system. You also get a Digital HD copy of the film as well. Many are wondering about the bonus features, and they don’t disappoint here. With a film that utilizes this many trippy effects, it’s fascinating seeing how they brought it all together. I particularly loved the spotlight on composer Michael Giacchino, “The Score-cerer Supreme”, who gave the film a sweeping and epic score it so richly deserved. There’s also a great commentary with director Scott Derrickson – seems like a lot of movies are skipping commentaries these days, but this one needed it, and it’s also quite fun.

Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams, Tilda Swinton, Mads Mikkelsen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, Michael Stuhlbarg, Benjamin Bratt

Length 1 hrs. 55 mins.
Rating PG-13
UPC Code 786936852714

Number of Discs 2
Disc SS-DL
Subtitles English, French and Spanish

Special Features:

A Strange Transformation – Open your eye to a New Dimension of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and see how the Filmmakers brought one of Comic Book’s Greatest Characters to Life.

Strange Company – Find out whats it’s Like for the Cast to Work on a Marvel Film, and how Director Scott Derrickson Engineered one of the Most Ambitious, Imaginative films ever.

The Fabric of Reality – Take a Closer look at the Movie’s Extraordinary Sets, Meticulously Crafted Costumes and Amazingly Detailed Production Elements.

Across Time and Space – Explore the Countless Hours of Dance and Fight Choreography the Actors endured in Preperation for their Physically Demanding Roles.

The Score-cerer Supreme – join Composer Michael Giacchino and a Full Orchestra during Live Recording Sessions and Experience the Movie’s Mind Bending Music.

Marvel Studio’s Phase 3 Exclusive Look – Get an Early Peek at Marvel’s Spectacular Upcoming Films, Including Marvel Studios Guardian of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War.

Team Thor: Part 2 – See More of the Hilarious Partnership Between Thor and his Roommate Darryl in the Satircal Short.

Audio Commentary with Scott Derrickson

Deleted Scenes

Gag Reel

The special features are actually quite a treat, as the go pretty in depth on the production of the film and the history of the characters. There’s a great series of interviews with the filmmakers, everyone from director Scott Derrickson to the fight choreographers. They even show how certain scenes in the movie are taken directly from a moment in the comic story, and delve into how each character evolved in the comic book pages – if you’re a fan of the source material, you’ll be happy.

They also show the cast getting into their roles, and several pieces of concept art for the film. There’s great moments that show the actors bonding and becoming like family on set, and interviews with all the key players about their roles. I particularly enjoyed hearing Tilda Swinton talk about what drew her to playing The Ancient One, something that’s been a source of controversy among fans, but she just nails the pary. The Marvel Studios Phase 3 featurette is also nice, giving us a nice tease of what’s to come without spoiling anything. Another great feature is the Team Thor part 2, following up on Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and his roommate Darryl. The gag reel is short but sweet, and it’s rather amusing seeing these otherwise serious characters cracking each other up on set. Lots of bonus content to keep you busy here!

From Marvel comes Doctor Strange, the story of world-famous neurosurgeon Dr. Stephen Strange, whose life changes forever after a horrific car accident robs him of the use of his hands. When traditional medicine fails him, he is to look for healing, and hope, in an unlikely place a mysterious enclave known as Kamar-Taj. He quickly learns that this is not just a center for healing but also the front line of a battle against unseen dark bent on destroying our reality. Before long Strange, armed with newly acquired magical powers, is to choose whether to return to his old life or leave it all behind to defend the world as the most powerful sorcerer in existence.


The film opens with a sacred temple being attacked by Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), who tears pages containing dark spells from a secret book in the library of The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton). Kaecilius and his goons fight the bald master and escape, but not before we’re treated to some rather mind-bending action… a mild taste of what’s to come. We then meet Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), a brilliant yet cocky neurosurgeon who works alongside his former flame Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams), and taunts his medical rival Dr. Nicodemus West (Michael Stuhlbarg). On his way to a speaking engagement, Strange has a horrible car accident and nearly dies. He wakes up in his own hospital to find his masterful hands butchered with metal and wires, leading to months of painful physical therapy and intense frustration. Not satisfied with modern medical techniques and running out of money, he seeks alternative treatment, which eventually leads him to Kathmandu. There he meets Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who introduces him to The Ancient One. They tell the Doctor he can heal himself if he believes in magic and metaphysical thought, and they show him just how it can be done. This leads to Strange becoming their enthusiastic student, and excelling at an astounding rate. As he becomes a master of the mystic arts, he learns of Kaecilius’ dirty deeds, and finds himself unwittingly pitted against the evil sorcerer… even if he’s not quite ready for battle.

The biggest complaints likely to come out of audiences who see DOCTOR STRANGE will stem from the slow and methodical build director Scott Derrickson implements in the first half of the film. Not unlike Christopher Nolan’s BATMAN BEGINS, this movie doesn’t rush through the hero learning how to fight and hone his skills before jumping into battle. To me, with a character like this, you really need that slow build to define how he takes on his ultimate persona. Remember folks, this is a mystical sorcerer, not a flashy costumed superhero. Cumberbatch finds a nice balance playing Strange as a cocky surgeon who isn’t afraid to admit when he’s frustrated by the unknown. He’s not necessarily a likable guy, but not so overconfident that we can’t relate to him. Imagine a less-plucky Tony Stark, with a more human side than we’re used to seeing in this kind of film. The British actor also does a good job selling his forced American accent here, never slipping up and delivering an awkward sentence as many British performers sometimes do in movies like this. What I liked most about the character is that it feels like a role that’s given room to grow, as in we don’t get the sense we’ve seen all there is to this fella.

The supporting roles are a mixed bag of greatness and one unfortunate misfire. Chiwetel Ejiofor works well as Mordo, a character we never find out much about (perhaps for good reason), but one that serves as a more grounded confidant for our hero. Tilda Swinton is pretty great as The Ancient One, showing a more bad-ass side to the respected actress – there’s a great almost otherworldly quality to her performance here. Benedict Wong is particularly fun as “Wong”, the guardian of The Ancient One’s spell books and library, and a man Strange wants so desperately to make laugh. Mads Mikkelsen does a fine job as the menacing Kaecilius, a forboding nemesis that feels like a true threat to our characters, even if he’s working for a much bigger presence. The only big disappointment comes with Rachel McAdams, who is fine as an actress but as a character seems lost and without much purpose in the story. She’s a former love interest for Strange, who clearly cares about him more than he does her, but the character just doesn’t have much to do here, and in the end seems pretty pointless to the plot. I think I was let down mostly because it feels like they’re setting her up for a purpose that never materializes in the end. Michael Stuhlbarg also felt a little underwritten as Strange’s medical competitor, like there needed to be a little more wrap up with his character.

The biggest selling point to DOCTOR STRANGE exists within the magical action sequences, featuring building-bending kaleidoscope effects that really shine in IMAX 3D. There’s a little ambiguity in some sequences as to whether or not the normal folks in the scene are supposed to be seeing what we’re seeing, but the trippy shots of these sorcerers battling one another are rather incredible. There’s more than a few moments that visually blew me away, which these days is pretty surprising in a comic book movie. The score by the always-solid Michael Giacchino is one of the better and more experimental soundtracks to be featured in a Marvel film, and is a welcome treat. The big finale is a little anti-climactic though VERY comic book-esque, perhaps out of necessity so as not to overdo the character or his new-found abilities just yet. Considering the next time we’ll see Strange is likely in THE AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR, we’re likely in for some rather cosmic and crazy battles, so this film’s big finish had to be a bit more controlled and quick. In the end I found myself leaving the production rather impressed and with the feeling I had seen something refreshing and inventive… not just another superhero flick. It’s actually one of the better origin films to come from Marvel Studios, and screenwriters Jon Spaihts, Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill did a great job adapting the rather complex Marvel character. These days when watching a comic book movie, I find myself asking the important question of whether or not I want to see more of this hero, and in this case I absolutely do. As with most Marvel fare, make sure to stay through the credits for not one but two stinger scenes, both setting up important future events.

DOCTOR STRANGE opened in theaters on November 4, 2016

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About the Author

Born and raised in Dallas, Mark has been a movie critic since 1994, with reviews featured in print, radio and National TV. In 2001 he started the Entertainment section of the Herorealm website, where he contributed film reviews and celebrity interviews until 2004. After three years of service there, he started, which has become one of the Dallas film community's leading information websites. Bigfanboy hosts several movie screenings in the Texas area, and works closely with film and TV studios and promotional partners to host exciting events and contests. The site also features a variety of rare celebrity and filmmaker interviews, and regularly covers the film festival circuit as well. In addition to Hollywood reporting, Mark has worked for many years as an advertising and sci-fi/comic book artist. Clients have included Lucasfilm Ltd., Topps Trading Cards, The Dallas Mavericks and The Dallas Stars. From 2002 until 2015 he managed the Dallas Comic Con, Sci-Fi Expo and Fan Days events in the DFW area. He currently catalogs rare comic books and movie memorabilia for Heritage Auctions, and runs the Dallas Comic Show conventions, but remains an avid moviegoer and cinema buff.