Doctor Strange Movie Review (Spoiler Free)
Forget what you know, open your mind and absorb the impossible! Marvel goes full Inception with this magical action spectacle!
Genre: Action / Fantasy
Director: Scott Derrickson
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Michael Stuhlbarg, Scott Adkins and Benjamin Bratt.
Run Time: 115 min.
US Release: 04 November 2016
UK Release: 25 October 2016
German Release: 27 October 2016
Marvel’s superhero genre is an ever-expanding universe that sees a growing consumer base. It doesn’t matter anymore if you are a fully-grown, geeky fan of the comics (like me!) or if you are new to these characters, the popularity of these movies is undeniable and Marvel is fully aware of that. So to keep the genre fresh, they come up with different formulas for their movies; some better, some less. Doctor Strange is definitely one of their better products and switches up the atmosphere by introducing magic into the very enjoyable MCU. Scott Derrickson directed a beautifully and brain-twisting picture that looks brilliant in 3-D.
Personally, I never was truly invested in the character of Stephen Strange and missed on all of his stories, unless the character crossed paths with Spider-Man in later comics, meaning that I knew close to nothing about this character. When I sat down in the theatre and the film was about to begin, I noticed how refreshing it was to watch a comic book movie I knew nothing about. Gone where the high expectations and demands I normally have with other films, I was able to simply sit back, relax and enjoy the blockbuster.
But what is this about? For the ones that don’t know… it is the origin story for Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme (since this is actually Strange’s title, I guess I am right by writing it in capital letters).
Stephen Strange (Cumberbatch) is a highly intelligent and very successful neurosurgeon, who likes to spend money as fast as he earns it. His success and photographic memory have made him arrogant and egoistic, looking for fame rather than using his gift to help people who truly need it. This changes when he is implicated in a car accident that fractures his hands and renders him useless to perform new surgeries.
Embittered he cuts his ties with his former colleagues, including his on/off lover Dr. Christine Pine (McAdams) and uses the last of his funds to travel to Kamar-Taj, where he meets the Ancient One (Swinton) and her pupil Mordo (Ejiofor). There he learns that the universe consists of more than just science and he is accepted as a pupil, to learn sorcery and surpass his selfishness. The ultimate test comes when Kaecilius (Mikkelsen), a former student of the Ancient One, returns to destroy his master to offer Earth to a mystical being known as Dormammu.
The plot of this movie is fantastically elaborated and takes a completely new and unexplored field, for what is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Thor hinted at magic being used in his world, combined with highly evolved technology, but the films never truly delve deep into that matter, which is probably why the two Thor flicks aren’t that well received. This picture, however, takes the mystical world of sorcery and turnes it into a highly entertaining and mind-bending story, with smart and very funny dialogues that reach at times surprising depths about the human anatomy and psyche.
Doctor Strange is not without flaws though, with most of its issues manifesting at the standard romantic plot line seen in many Marvel films. While other Marvel movies – except Thor - take their time developing a romantic subplot, Strange’s relationship with Christine Palmer feels rushed, forced and unnatural. It would have been wiser to use her as a good friend first, with a possibility of “more” in future films. The origin-story base also feels old and overused, it would have benefited the blockbuster more if had inspected Strange’s later years as a magician, with him finally obtaining the title of Sorcerer Supreme at the end.
Character wise, I think Benedict Cumberbatch is a fantastic casting choice as Stephen Strange. He not only looks the part but also gives a great and believable rendition, with the mid-credit scene showing the path that Strange will take to implement himself into the greater MCU. Mads Mikkelesen is very interesting as Kaecilius, a villain who does not see himself as the bad guy but rather as a saviour to the world. His persona is very similar to that of Strange, but I do wish he had been given more screen time to explore his choices made.
Benedict Wong’s character and performance is the biggest surprise of the film! Not only is he funny, but he also managed to kick some serious butt.
Tilda Swinton gives a great performance as the Ancient One, and Marvel did a great job at casting a female for such an important character, as she does a grand job. Still, I agree to the fact that it would have been more suiting to cast an Asian actor or actress for that role. Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Mordo and starts off very strong. His persona has a clear set of morals that are shaken (and partially broken) by a secret the Ancient One reveals. By the end, though, Ejiofor lays it on a little bit too thick.
There is not much I can say about the film’s effects that hasn’t been already discussed. Ben Davis does a wonderful job as director of photography, with mind-bending visual effects and strong cinematography. One of the movies best visually captured moments is Strange’s car crash. The 3-D effects are fantastic and worth watching, something I don’t say very often as I am not a fan of watching films in 3-D.
Verdict: Overall Doctor Strange is another strong entrance for the MCU, with some minor flaws here and there. The smart and funny dialogue scenes mesh well with the stunning effects, Davis’ extraordinary cinematography and the top-notch performances by Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton and Mads Mikkelsen. It will most definitely not be a movie for everybody, especially as it enters undiscovered territory that may well frustrate viewers who are used to different topics by Marvel. I, however, did enjoy the thematic and different approach and will, therefore, give it a 9.0 out of 10.
Thank you very much for reading my review for Doctor Strange and apologies for not having been able to write more reviews as of late. I hope you enjoyed this entry and please look forward to my late review of The Nice Guys tomorrow.