Doctor Strange is the 14th movie from Marvel Studios. As with Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man, Doctor Strange is another movie that is “off brand” more or less. It’s not too different from what you would expect from other Marvel Studios films. But it does have its own unique tone and atmosphere that helps separate from the other Marvel Studios film this year, Captain America: Civil War. So how is the film overall?
Doctor Stephen Strange is an arrogant surgeon. A total master in his field of work. After an accident that cost him the use of his hands, Strange is a broken man. Finding solace in the East and learning new purpose in life. If this sounds like the plot of the first Iron Man, you’re not too far off. Both Tony Stark and Stephen Strange are arrogant and rude to others but there is a distinct difference. You see from the very beginning that Strange while egotistical does want to help people.
During his training of the mystic arts, Strange befriends and learns from The Ancient One, Wong and Mordo. Each one strict and no time for Strange’s attitude yet at the same time believing in him to do better as Strange shows a unique aptitude. This is all paralleled by Kaecilius, the main villain of the film. Doctor Strange is a unique entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It opens up a new avenue to explore in this universe and has also introduced a unique hero. It will be interesting to see how he and Tony Stark interact as you can see the similarities but also where they diverge.
Benedict Cumberbatch is great a Stephen Strange. It’s not too unfamiliar territory here as he plays the similar Sherlock Holmes in the BBC series. But Strange is a bit more snarky and open to others. The movie probably would not have worked if the main actor did not work. Cumberbatch fits the role to a T. His American accent is a bit disconcerting but it still works. The actor sells the role and it will be good to see his continuing adventures in the MCU.
The supporting characters are also great. Controversy aside, Tilda Swinton sells her role as The Ancient One. A unique master of the mystic arts that is harsh yet sweet. Swinton can sell subtle looks. Chiwetel Ejiofor as Karl Mordo is a unique presence. Those familiar with his comics counterpart know what he becomes but the film does not go that route with the character…in this movie. It will be curious to see where his character goes from here but it goes without saying there will be conflict between he and Strange. Benedict Wong as Wong is also a unique change. Wong is no longer the man servant but a guardian of the library who is not as stoic as he likes to come off. These three really help flesh out the world. Rachel McAdams as Christine Palmer, the former lover of Strange does not have a major role in the movie. But does serve a purpose and she does not get to play the damsel in distress. There feels like there was more with the character that was cut but she does the best with what she’s given.
Mads Mikkelsen as Kaecilius does not fall completely in the line of terrible MCU villains. But he does not get a lot to do either. He does get one scene that helps sell his character and it does help. But once again it felts like there could have been more done with the character. Time is my biggest issue with the film. It’s only an hour and fifty five minutes. It goes by at a good breeze but it does feel like character development got cut out and to the detriment. We don’t spend much time with Strange as the arrogant doctor. We also don’t get to know certain characters as much as I would like either. That is arguably my only quibble with the film.
Special mention also has to go to the special effects. Big budget movies with great special effects is common nowadays. But this film goes the extra mile to be “trippy” to use a buzz word. That is what it is. Psychedelic colors and imagery is apparent from the very beginning. If this film does not win the Oscar for special effects, I will be surprised. The fight scenes where buildings are turning in on themselves and mirror imagery helps set it apart from other action scenes in big budget movies.
Doctor Strange is one of my favorite movies within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We have been introduced to a great character and new aspect in the universe. This film was a delight from beginning to end. I do plan on watching it again. Though I’m getting tired of the stingers in a Marvel film, there are two in these and both are important. One for the greater MCU universe and in particular one film coming out around this time next year and another more linked to Doctor Strange.