It’s getting to that point for Marvel Studios where they must pull out the lesser known heroes to make new franchises, Doctor Strange is one such character. I had no idea who he was but enrolling geek favourite Benedict Cumberbatch and an introduction of magic rather than super powers as the driving impetuous seemed like the right idea. But does this magician and his unusual cape have enough to stand out from the crowded comic book market? The answer is no, but it still an enjoyable movie anyway. Find out more in our review.
Doctor Stephen Strange is an arrogant brain surgeon, who risky yet successful lifestyle ends abruptly when involved in a car crash. The resulting damaged hands seem permanently so and after exhausting all avenues to a mystic known as the Ancient One located in Nepal. What he discovers is a world of magic and a war that threatens the very survival of the planet. Strange must decide between his own selfish desires or becoming involved in the cosmic war.
Doctor Strange is the first time magic has really been introduced to the Marvel movies. You could probably argue for Thor but the dude still waves a hammer around. Here we have spell casters and firey weapon wielder who manipulate the elements around them pullling their capabilites out of thin air. The idea of bending time and reality at times feels like it borrowing its visual styling from Inception but for a superhero movie ,it feels fresh.
Doctor Strange has a solid cast and we all know the drill with Benedict Cumberbatch and what type of slightly off-kilter, emotionally detached character that he exceeds at playing. It fits all very well and with Marvel’s decision to delay filming for him seems to have paid off. It’s quite unusual that we could be so attached to having an American accent for Steven Strange that we force Cumberbatch to butcher one of his own.
Amy Adams and Chiwetel Ejiofor add dimensions to smaller parts, while Mads Mikkelson and Tilda Swinton bring in some respectable work. This is perhaps even more surprising when you have these delightful supporting characters with only cursory details of their back story. The Ancient One has a sinister secret, Mad’s character Kaeciliushas is rebellious student enough for the plot to move forward but sometimes one is left guessing at motivations.
Still, most of this is disguised in a rather witty and fun script, some of the humour might feel a bit too self-aware but given the dour nature of super heroes now you can forgive it that. It more in line with Ant man as far as tone goes and yet doesn’t suffer from being slavishly attached to the wider universe. Still much like Ant-man you get the impression that this is just something to fill in the roster. A great secondary character, Doctor Strange may be, but a leading hero in a franchise, maybe not.
It’s a bit unreasonable to place all Marvel endings together but there is a bit of a giant special effect extravaganza and can sometimes feel like you are watching cartoons instead of actual characters and people. Doctor Strange appears to be headed in that direction too. Yet a fight in rewind makes for a compelling visual argument why things might be different here. Further the confrontation with the big bad isn’t just a fist fight but a clever play on repetition and time. Surprisingly clever.
Doctor Strange Review Cheat Sheet
Doctor Strange is an enjoyable romp that is a visually exciting origin story. It’s anchored by some solid acting and clever action sequences. Yet for all its enjoyment it feels like a pleasant diversion rather than any meaningful movie. Worth a watch, not a must see.
+ Great casting
+ Clever and fun script.
+ Surprising ending.
+ Not overly attached to the Marvel universe
– Cumberbatch’s accent
– little to no back story.
– feels like a movie about a secondary character not a main one.