“What if I told you that the reality you know is one of many?”
This review will NOT contain spoilers. So you may read ahead if you have seen the film or you haven’t yet!
The Marvel Cinematic Universe, (MCU) has been with us for 8 years now and has provided us with a plethora of superhero movies. Some excellent and critically acclaimed, others… not so much (*Cough* TheIncredibleHulk *cough*) but Doctor Strange, the latest film in the MCU is quite possibly one of the greatest to date. Its vast array of dazzling visuals, excellent story and character development make for yet another marvelous Marvel hit, but to me there’s more under the hood (or red cloak) than meets the eye.
Despite the often generic plot that Marvel films tend to follow, Doctor Strange manages to provide a similar yet refreshing ‘origin’ story to add to the ever-expanding collection of heroes the MCU provides. The basic plot of the film follows the rich and arrogant but brilliant neurosurgeon Stephen Strange. (Marvel loves their alliterative superhero names!!) Who is involved in a near fatal car crash that leaves him with limited use of his hands, following this, Strange ends up spending his riches searching for a treatment before he stalls upon a mystical temple in Asia that leads to him developing mystical abilities (basically the ability to use magic). The narrative then leads to the Villain of the film and a climatic third-act final battle. For a Marvel fan (Like myself) viewers are not left disappointed when it comes to the Easter eggs in the film. Teases of new characters and the possibility of a sequel that comes with the film. Doctor Strange however does fall short in a few cases, it suffers the same underdeveloped villain that is often the case with many Marvel movies but still manages to make them interesting enough to warrant interest. Overall Marvel manages to pull off a great narrative and entices us back for more of Strange.
Great visuals are a large part of Marvel films and with the case of Doctor Strange the visuals are honestly the centrepiece and great majesty of the film. It’s striking use of CGI helps the ‘magic’ in the film to feel real. Director Scott Derrickson brings his own flair to the film and pumps it with the crazy and mind bending visuals. The ‘Magic’ that the film uses is a key aspect to the film and the visuals are used injunction with the characters effectively. The cinematography in the film is stunning too, the long shots used in action sequences provide us with huge crazy scenes and visuals and the mid and close up shots bring a gritty and personal touch to the characters and the magic they use. Doctor Strange provides a incredibly trippy but mind-blowing set of visuals.
Benedict Cumberbatch, the star of Doctor Strange (as Doctor Stephen Strange) provides the audience with a great and believable portrayal of the character. Strange’s arrogance and ego blends well with his at first disbelief of the reality of magic, but later works well when he takes up the mantle of ‘sorcerer supreme’. The other main characters in the film help fuel Benedict’s Strange, as well as successfully create and pull off their own characters and bring them into the world of Marvel. Tilda Swinton’s character of the Ancient One takes a different twist to the comics where she plays a ‘of Celtic origin’ version of the originally Asian Ancient One. (Which received criticism from quite a number of comic Marvel fans) However the character works well as Strange’s mentor throughout the film and Swinton gives us a quirky, serious but downright great performance as the Ancient one. The other main character of the film, Karl Mordo portrayed by Chiwetel Ejiofor, who acts as Strange’s mentor and second only to Swinton’s Ancient One. Ejiofor provides a comic accurate and straight talking Mordo, who by the end of the film has changed in more ways than one and in a sense gives the film gives the character his own origin story which provides Ejiofor with a great presence in the film.
Overall Doctor Strange is another classic but great origin story from Marvel Studios, it works very well as it adds much more to the generic origin, by including mind bending visuals and a vast array of new characters, as well as teasing the possibility of a sequel. I love Doctor Strange as a film, it works well as what it is supposed to be, a superhero film and its main audience draw of its trippy visuals is the key to its current success at the box office. The doctor is certainty ‘in’ when it comes to Doctor Strange.
My rating: 4/5