Doctor Strange Review
With Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in full swing, we’re seeing the close out to a number of the heroes we’ve grown to love. With Iron Man having already drawn to a close, Captain America wrapping up with Civil War and Thor closing out next year, the new vanguard of Marvel heroes have begun to take to the screens. Ant-Man closed out Phase Two last year and now, to give us our superhero fix to tie us over till next summer is Doctor Strange. Strange opens an entire new realm of the Marvelverse as he delves into the magical side of things, something that has been briefly touched on with Thor, but that’s nowhere near the magic that the Sorcerer Supreme delves into. How does opening an entire new realm of possibilities in the ever expanding Marvelverse fair? Well, it’s a strong contender for one of Marvel’s best!
For the uninitiated, Doctor Strange centers around the titular character – Doctor Stephen Strange, a very gifted neurosurgeon who is also arrogant, pompous, and has a huge superiority complex. When a terrible car wreck completely destroys his hands and thus, his ability to perform medicine, Strange loses it. Seeking out anyway possible to get his former life back, he ends up seeking a mystic after bankrupting himself and exhausting every other method known to him. The mystic, aptly named The Ancient One, played by notorious scene stealer Tilda Swinton, teaches Strange about the mystic arts, magic, and his natural gift for channelling them. But all is not well in the mystical realm as a former disciple of The Ancient One, Kaecilius, has vowed to destroy The Ancient One and enslave the world to his master.
“How does opening an entire new realm of possibilities in the ever expanding Marvelverse fair? Well, it’s a strong contender for one of Marvel’s best!”
For Marvel to score the amazing cast that they did for this movie just shows the brand power that they have been able to make for themselves. Benedict Cumberbatch takes on the role of Stephen Strange, a choice I liked immediately but wasn’t sure how well he could pull it off. Showing what a truly amazing actor he is, I actually couldn’t imagine anyone else playing the good Doctor now. He plays the arrogance with great aplomb, something you may expect if you’ve seen him in Sherlock, but he also manages to keep the core of Strange intact when the big character change comes around. If you’ve read Strange comics you’ll know that Strange never quite lost that swagger that comes from being incredibly wealthy, handsome, and wildly successful in everything you do. Even in his most humble moments, there’s still that touch of ego in everything Strange does. Cumberbatch absolutely nails this, making Strange completely likeable while also making sure we know that he also rivals Tony Stark in thinking he’s the greatest.
The cast doesn’t just stop with a bang on casting of its lead. Tilda Swinton is, as I said above, a scene stealer in this movie as well, commanding the screen with her passiveness and her total domination of the mystic arts. Mads Mikkelsen exudes a total villain aura even as his character, Kaecilius, falls into the Chaotic Neutral category of things. Of course, I would be remiss to not acknowledge the always amazing Chiwetel Ejiofor as Mordo, a character that battles with his own sense of right and wrong and paints a picture for the future of the Strange series. Rachel McAdams and Benedict Wong round out the cast as two great supporting roles, two characters that are anchors for Strange in his old and new life respectively. Suffice it to say, they were all treat on screen.
Doctor Strange was not content to fall back on its top tier stars and the Marvel brand power and deliver a by the numbers origin story. Don’t get me wrong, the biggest problem with this film is that it is another origin story and it hits all the usual markers that you would expect. Strange though, somehow manages to take what we expect from our origin tales and now from our Marvel films and manages to change them ever so slightly to keep it feeling fresh. Much like the sorcerers warp the landscape, Strange manages to bring some levity to the seriousness of its material by flipping it ever so slightly. Even in its grand finale, they don’t take the usual approach in its resolution, instead banking on the lead characters own traits to get us to the finale.
The real risk with this film was, of course, the introduction of magic. As I said above, the Thor films had dabbled into it, but they were nowhere near the levels of weird, magical madness that Doctor Strange gets into. What works so well for this film is that Marvel didn’t even think for a second about playing safe. No, they drop us into the most bizarre, weird and absolutely mind bending movie that you could think of. Have you ever thought about crossing dimensions, journeying through black holes and wandering the universe? Pack your bong and see what Doctor Strange has in store for you! Additionally, the action sequences were literally mind bending. I literally turned my head on more than one occasion just trying to get my melting mind to process what I was seeing. There is no other way to describe the movie other than absolutely visually stunning.
In the end, Marvel has, once again, hit a homerun. They took another huge risk by introducing magic into the Marvelverse with a character that is barely a blip on the public lexicon and are not only over performing at the box office, but it is also one of the highest critically praised films of the year.
The movie is a visual feast, a solid origin story, with terrific acting, awesome action, and it sends tendrils to every corner of the Marvel Universe in a straight two hours. It also doesn’t take itself too seriously, never allowing the sometimes ridiculousness of the superhero universe, like poses and titles, to dictate how serious we have to take it. Doctor Strange was a barely recognizable character in the public eye that Marvel has rocketed onto to the tips of everyone’s tongues. With all the swagger of Tony Stark and an entire new corner of the universe to play in, Doctor Strange has plenty of room to grow. If you noticed all the references made throughout the film or you stuck around after the credits, you can see just what an impact Strange will have as the Marvelverse. Perhaps we may even see some Illimunati in the future? Who’s to say at this point!
If you weren’t part of the army of people who saw Doctor Strange this weekend, put it at the top of your list of things to see! It’s very, very worth your time.
- Amazing visuals
- Terrific characters
- Perfect intro to new hero
- The origin story formula rears its head