Sunday, October 30, 2016

Marvel's Doctor Strange Reviews: A Diagnosis of the Mystical Marvel Universe


Doctor Strange is now altering realities at Malaysian cinemas nationwide, introducing magic and mysticism to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We present here two reviews from our contributors offering their take on Doctor Strange as a fan and non-fan in Bahasa Malaysia and English.

Pelik Tapi Tak Ajaib
by Ezli Qamari

Intro:
Adakah Marvel mengambil tindakan wajar mengeluarkan filem Doctor Strange dalam fasa ketiga MCU serta memberi masa mencukupi untuk peminat menerima hero mistikal baru ini dibawah teraju pengarah kurang berpengalaman?

Sinopsis:
Berikutan kemalangan kereta yang dahsyat yang melumpuhkan kedua-dua tangannya, kerjaya pakar bedah otak yang Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) hancur dan segala wangnya habis kerana mencuba setiap perubatan eksperimen untuk menyembuh tangannya. Apabila semua perubatan Barat gagal, dia pergi mencari lokasi Kamar-Taj di Kathmandu, Nepal yang pernah memulihkan seorang mangsa lumpuh. Dia bertemu Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) dan gurunya Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), yang mengajar Strange seni sihir dan mistik. Kemunculan penjahat Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) membawa ancaman terhadap Kamar-Taj dan juga keselamatan bumi.



Ulasan: 
Penataan seni DOCTOR STRANGE adalah elemen terbaik yang pernah dilihat berbanding filem Marvel yang lain kerana tidak berharap pada letupan dan kemusnahan semata-mata. Pada awal, visualnya berjaya memberi homage pada seni psychedelic 60’an ciptaan Steve Ditko yang penuh warna warni. Kemudian, meminjam konsep dari filem INCEPTION oleh Christopher Nolan, bandar New York berubah menjadi medan perang kaleidoscope putaran konkrit dan besi yang mengagumkan!

Benedict Cumberbatch adalah pilihan tepat menjadi Stephen Strange, dia berkata near-death experience menjejaki tanah tinggi Tibet pada umur 19 tahun membantu dia hayati watak Strange. Bermula dengan keangkuhan yang kita sering lihat dalam siri tv SHERLOCK kemudian jalani proses perubahan selepas kemalangan kemudian menjadi seorang pelajar yang dahagakan ilmu tetapi pandai berjenaka.



Penonton juga dapat melupakan isu ‘whitewashing’ yang memutihkan Ancient One dengan alasan penonton China benci Tibet dan menghitamkan Karl Mordo yang dalam komik berasal dari Transylvania. Lakonan Tilda Swinton dan Chiwetel Ejiofor adalah kekuatan utama dalam pemilihan pelakon filem ini hinggakan karisma Swinton kadang-kadang lebih hebat dari Cumberbatch.

Pengarah Scott Derrickson yang tenggelam timbul dengan seleksi filem-filem seram sebelum ini boleh mendapat pujian kerana membawa sedikit kelainan kepada Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) akan tetapi tidak terlepas mengikut acuan selamat dalam plot origin story Marvel yang lebih kurang sama dengan tragedi yang menimpa Tony Stark sebelum menjadi Iron Man.

Soundtrack filem ini yang sepatutnya lebih bersifat mistikal berubah menjadi filem fiksyen sains kerana komposer Michael Giacchino terikut-ikut dengan runut bunyi filem STAR TREK sehingga penonton tertunggu-tunggu jika Cumberbatch akan mengaku dirinya Khan.



*Amaran Spoiler* 
Walaupun mempunyai 3 orang penulis, filem ini punyai beberapa kelemahan kecil. Sama seperti beberapa filem Marvel yang lain, penulisan watak penjahatnya agak lemah. Mads Mikkelsen berjaya membawa karakter Kaecilius dengan baik tapi elemen pendorong kejahatannya tidak cukup kuat dan jelas sama seperti Darren Cross (ANT-MAN) dan Aldrich Killian (IRON MAN 3). Babak klimaks juga boleh dibaca penonton yang meminati filem atau novel science fiction/fantasi kerana plot memutarkan waktu boleh dibaca beberapa kilometer jauhnya. Kita perlu berterima kasih pada penulis Jon Spaihts kerana sifat ketidaktentuan ini dapat dilihat dalam filem awalnya seperti PROMETHEUS & THE DARKEST HOUR yang mahu pengakhiran yang grand tapi gagal melaksanakannya dengan baik. Contoh paling jelas: ancaman Dormammu tidak ubah seperti penjahat kualiti kepulan asap Parallax (GREEN LANTERN) dan Galactus (FANTASTIC 4: RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER).
*Penutup Spoiler* 

DOCTOR STRANGE terperangkap dalam acuan origin story superhero yang sering diulang pakai sebelumnya tetapi masih berjaya memberi kepuasan melalui visual menarik, aksi menghiburkan dan lakonan memukau Benedict Cumberbatch. 

The cast and team of Marvel's Doctor Strange at the Hollywood Movie Premiere.

Fanboy Geekgasm! We can watch this over and over again.


The Good Doctor Comes to Town
by Michelle Chee

Well, first off, I have to admit that I’m not a Marvel fan, but I AM a fan of Benedict Cumberbatch. The little I know of the Marvel universe is gleaned from the several movies I’ve watched before, like The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy and Deadpool (which I didn’t get to finish because I watched it on a flight and then we had to land, sigh). Anyway back to Doctor Strange. I actually went in to the cinema not expecting much, and found that it was a pleasant experience overall.

There are some really big names in this movie, legendary even. I mean I’ll always remember Tilda Swinton as the white witch in the Chronicles of Narnia, and Chiwetel Eijofor for 12 Years a Slave. As such, I wasn’t disappointed by their performance, but I did wish that their characters were allowed more depth and layers. As it were, they seemed to only be there to prop up certain bits of the story.

Get trippy on the Astral Plane and many more realities.

Mr Bendyflick Cucumberpatch’s performance was on point, as I was glad he got so many punchlines, which I feel he delivered with comic precision. Plus his namesake co-star Benedict Wong (oh, hello Kublai Khan! - Netflix Marco Polo series) had great comic chemistry with him, staying stoic through all his jabs. Even the mystical Cloak of Levitation had humorous sequences to its name.

As someone who doesn’t follow the comic books however, I felt some parts of the storyline a little hard to follow, and many of the mystic concepts had me asking more questions. For example, why is the power drawn from the dark dimension stronger than those drawn from other dimensions?

Nevertheless, the story has a good flow, with very impressive special effects. The action sequences are stunning, and it all builds up to a climax at a pace that was quite alright for me, although a bit fast in some parts, like the period when Strange went into recovery after his accident. I loved the fact that Dr Strange melded both mystic arts and modern medicine at certain points in the movie, and coming from a life-science background, I found that fun and insightful at the same time.

Concept art for the movie on how magic will be seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

In essence, it was a good superhero beginnings movie, in order to introduce this character to non-fans and the wider audience. The feel of the movie is distinctly different than many other Marvel character introductions. I feel this one has a slightly heavier concept involved, with both mysticism and philosophy thrown in. Also, as a post note, I thoroughly enjoyed the scenes they filmed of Kamar Taj in Nepal as I’ve been to Kathmandu myself. The cinematography was really well done, and captures the spiritual mysteriousness of the place so well.

In Malaysia cinemas NOW nationwide.

Disclaimer: Doctor Strange and other trademarks are copyright to Marvel Entertainment and/or Disney, referenced here for fan service announcements without intent to infringe.

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