Doctor Strange Movie Review
Doctor Strange is the 14th movie of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If this film is any indication on where the MCU is headed, most of us will enjoy the ride.
The movie does a decent job showing how much of an asshole, Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is before his horrific car accident. My concerns going in were how “The Mystic Arts” which the Dr. Strange character is enriched with, would fit into the MCU, how magic could stay hidden for so long in Marvel’s movie-verse, and would it be believable? Those concerns were put to rest rather quickly.
The fist few minutes of Doctor Strange explains why most people have never seen magic in the MCU. The movie wastes no time in introducing the main villain, and showing how powerful a sorcerer can become. This opening act has some of the best special effects I’ve seen in Marvel films.
The movie then introduces the protagonist, Dr. Stephen Strange. One of the best neurosurgeons in the world who thinks everything revolves around him. Cumberbatch pulls off the arrogant asshole superbly. Though, I would have liked a few more scenes of him being even more of prick because when his life is turned upside down, you feel somewhat sorry for him. The scenes of him doing whatever he thinks needs to be done to be a neurosurgeon again makes you somewhat forget how much of a dick he was to everyone. People who don’t know much about the comic book character might even want him to succeed. It’s not necessarily a bad way Marvel told his back story, I just think they needed to go deeper with how much of a God complex he had.
After burning through all of his money for medical procedures that continue to fail at healing him, the desperate Strange travels to Kamar-Taj, a place he believes can heal his hands so he can get his old life back. Strange believes the cure is some sort of secret science; a belief that is shot down, which makes him act like a disrespectful brat who didn’t get a car for his 16th birthday. As he continues to berate the Ancient One (played by Tilda Swinton) he is humbled once again. This interaction was extremely funny. Up to this point the movie has shades of the first Iron Man film. There’s nothing new here. An arrogant, sarcastic prick who finds humility after a near death experience is nothing new. Fortunately for this film it works because the acting and dialogue are excellent. Strange has quite a few one liners that will make you chuckle through out the movie. Marvel follows a certain path to origin movies; it works BUT sooner or later people are going to want more than just a one-dimensional villain and the hero’s love interest. When it comes to this movie, the latter shines more than the former.
I wasn’t sure I’d like Christine Palmer (played by Rachel McAdams) going into this. I never really cared too much for the romantic love interest of the hero. I was surprised to see her make me laugh just from her reactions to the magical world Strange is “reborn” in. Palmer was one of the best supporting characters; probably because she keeps the movie grounded in some form of reality. The rest of the supporting cast did a decent to great job helping to establish the Dr. Strange character.
I enjoyed watching Strange learn how to use the mystic arts, but I wish there were more scenes showing this. It seemed like he mastered a great deal too soon. This movie does a bad job showing how long he was training and an even worse job explaining why Strange catches on so quickly. Maybe I’m being picky here but, this film is introducing a new element to these Marvel films (magic), and I felt like Marvel was holding back. Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Wong (Benedict Wong) are both intriguing and funny in their own way during this story arc. Strange’s entire training either added mystique or good comic relief; I just wanted this chapter to last a little longer. Sometimes less isn’t more.
I didn’t care too much for the antagonist Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), which didn’t surprise me. For some reason Marvel has a hard time getting you interested in their villains. I didn’t hate his scenes, but there wasn’t one point in the movie that made me crave to see more of him. The story seems more interested in getting Strange out in the MCU than bringing more interesting adversaries into it. Without spoiling too much, Kaecilius and his followers use a stolen page to begin summoning a powerful demon. His reasons aren’t as generic as you might think, and I found it had an interesting twist. Plus, he does a good showing how powerful he is to the point where you will wonder how Strange is going to survive.
Doctor Strange is a good movie that does a great job introducing yet another character I never thought I’d see in a movie. The greatest feat this movie pulls off is how they introduce magic into the MCU. The film is funnier than I thought it would be with wonderful special effects. The magic artifacts Strange comes across are either pretty bad ass or downright hilarious. Now that the generic origin story is over, what Marvel has in store for Dr Strange has my interest. I have no doubt this character interacting with other MCU heroes is going to be exciting to say the least.
Which reminds me, make sure you don’t forget to watch the two end credit scenes.