Action Adventure

'Doctor Strange' Blu-ray Review: Yet another reason why, in the Magic Kingdom, Marvel reigns supreme

February 27, 2017Ben MK

Three parts Iron Man and one part Batman Begins — with a double dose of Inception and the Harry Potter series thrown in for good measure — Doctor Strange blends the familiarity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with elements of magic and mysticism, creating what is easily one of 2016's most visually compelling films, and one of the most watchable superhero origin stories in recent memory.

The movie sees Benedict Cumberbatch don the Cloak of Levitation as Dr. Stephen Strange, a brilliant — not to mention, suave, extremely arrogant and ultra-rich — neurosurgeon whose hands — and, hence, career — are mangled as a result of a horrific car accident. Desperate to recover that which he has lost, Strange journeys from New York City to Kathmandu to seek the help of the mysterious Ancient One (Tilda Swinton). What he ends up gaining instead, however, is the ability to conjure spells and wield powers far beyond his wildest imagination.

Cumberbatch and Swinton are joined by Chiwetel Ejiofor and Benedict Wong as Mordo and Wong, two sorcerers who fight alongside Strange against Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), a former pupil of the Ancient One, as well as by Rachel McAdams as Christine Palmer, an ER nurse who is essentially Strange's Pepper Potts. Suffice to say, this is one of the strongest MCU casts ever assembled, and they help writer/director Scott Derrickson and co-writers Jon Spaihts and C. Robert Cargill toggle between comedy and drama with the ease of a magician performing a sleight of hand.

Needless to say, Doctor Strange absolutely lives up to the expectations set by the thirteen films that have preceded it. However, what really distinguishes the movie from the rest of the MCU are its mind-bending visuals. Whether it's the kaleidoscopic image of a city folding in on itself, or a street fight that becomes a gravity-defying brawl along the side of a building in the blink of an eye, Doctor Strange raises a bar already set high by the likes of Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man; and it's further proof that the MCU has a long way to go before it becomes tiresome.

Doctor Strange conjures up a thoroughly enjoyable and engaging experience on Blu-ray, thanks to a fantastic audiovisual presentation. The most striking aspect of the film, its visuals, are rendered in spectacular fashion here, with this 1080p transfer delivering razor-sharp detailing, deep, rich black levels and robust coloring. And even though the film's color palette is somewhat muted for scenes lacking any mystical arts presence, it only makes the appearance of such elements (such as the vibrant orange glow of spells or the neon purples, blues and greens of the Dark Dimension) stand out even more. Likewise, the disc's DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 sound mix is equally immersive, with dialogue and music coming through loud and clear; but the results are especially impressive when it comes to the more inventive elements of the movie's sound design, such as the low-end rumble that accompanies the magical shifting of buildings and environments and the crackling sound of dimensional portals being opened.

Disney's two-disc Blu-ray combo pack includes an iTunes digital copy, a DVD and the following Blu-ray extras:

  • A Strange Transformation (9:42) - A look at Doctor Strange's comic book origins and Benedict's Cumberbatch's transformation into the character.
  • Strange Company (12:37) - A piece about the film's cast (Tilda Swinton, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Mads Mikkelsen) and Director Scott Derrickson.
  • The Fabric of Reality (12:32) - Costume Designer Alexandra Byrne, Property Master Barry Gibbs and Production Designer Charles Wood talk about their work on the movie, from creating the Cloak of Levitation and the Eye of Agamotto, to recreating Kathmandu on a sound stage and building the Sanctum Sanctorum, to filming on-location in Kathmandu and New York City.
  • Across Time and Space (13:21) - Fight Choreographer Jonathan Eusebio and Magic Choreographer Julian Daniels highlight their work on the film, the cast talk about the physical demands of their roles, and Visual Effects Supervisor Stephane Ceretti discusses the film's VFX.
  • The Score-cerer Supreme (9:51) - Composer Michael Giacchino gives an overview of his score for the film, from its themes to the instruments used to create the music.
  • Marvel Studios Phase 3 Exclusive Look (7:28) - A look at the various chapters of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, from the street-level, to the cosmic, to the supernatural, with a focus on the phase three films that are Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2, Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War.
  • Team Thor: Part 2 (4:38) - A tongue-in-cheek short in which Thor and his roommate, Daryl, talk to the camera about the challenges of sharing a flat.
  • Deleted & Extended Scenes (7:52) - Five scenes ("Strange Meets Daniel Drumm," "Kaecilius Searches For Answers," "The Kamar-Taj Courtyard," "Making Contact" and "Lost In Kathmandu").
  • Gag Reel (4:12) - Goofs and flubs from the set.
  • Audio Commentary - Director Scott Derrickson talks about the things he's learned as a filmmaker that he brought to the movie, the film's global scale, the visual effects and the set-pieces, the attention to detail in the medical scenes, the origin of the character, the cast, their performances and the relationship between their characters, the sets and the production design, and more.

Doctor Strange is available from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment as of February 28th, 2017. The Blu-ray features English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, and English Dolby Digital 2.0 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles. The total runtime is 1 Hr. 55 Mins.

* Reviewer's note: Portions of this Blu-ray review were adapted from my original review of the theatrical release, published on November 4th, 2016.

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