Doctor Strange (2016)
Directed by: Scott Derrickson
Written by: Jon Spaihts, Scott Derrickson, C. Robert Cargill
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Mads Mikkelson, Tilda Swinton
Well let’s get this out of the way since it’s the most obvious highlight. The visuals were by far the best aspect of this film. The first thing that comes to mind is that this film’s visuals are similar to that of the movie Inception, except multiplied by 10. The 3D special effects were done very well and didn’t seem like a cheap money grab. I thought it gave just the right amount of psychedelic special effects without getting overwhelmingly trippy. More importantly, the 3D effects were more than memorable and not just a “one and done” as in other films.
Benedict Cumberbatch portrays the role of Doctor Strange pretty well in my opinion. The character is supposed to be arrogant and cocky, similar to that of Tony Stark from Iron Man. You get all of that from Cumberbatch to the point that at times you simply don’t like his character, as a person. Both him and Rachel McAdams (who plays Christine Palmer) share fun and witty banter in various occasions. Thankfully McAdams wasn’t just thrown in to be the helpless damsel in distress. Instead she seemed like a grounded character that was much more relatable to those of us in the audience.
Doctor Strange was filled with much more comedy than expected. More specifically there’s more physical comedy with a certain character that has a mind of its own. (You’ll know it when you see it.) Besides that there were plenty of jokes and humorous moments in the film that will get some chuckles and laughs out of you.
One of the most surprising supporting roles to interest me was Tilda Swinton’s “The Ancient One”. I was a little dubious about her role at first, but it was intriguing to see how much depth was given to her character. It actually made me want to know and see more of her past in some other Marvel medium. (Maybe in a Marvel One Shot or something.)
As we may know from previous Marvel films, the issue of having a underwhelming villain strikes again. While Mads Maikkelsen’s performance as “Kaecilius” wasn’t bad, his character simply didn’t seem as moving. Rarely did he ever seem to elevate Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange character or really impose a threatening sense of urgency.
The only other thing that I could see be a bit of an issue is the sense of over-familiarity. The film pulls from so many other Marvel films that it could feel a bit repetitive. Dr. Strange is Tony Stark and Christine is Pepper Potts from Iron Man 1. The comedy of this film is almost similar to that of Ant-Man. Dr. Strange’s road to spiritual journey is similar to Thor’s journey of becoming worthy again to lift his hammer. The list continues and I’m sure you may find more commonalities.
Doctor Strange overall was another success for Marvel in my book. It was a relevantly safe film, though it did push a few boundaries in some form. Parents be advised that there are some S-bombs, and “A-hole” language throughout the film. There’s also a bit more graphic deaths compared to what you may be accustomed to in a Marvel/Disney film as well. I think they were really aiming for a hard PG-13 rating here.
If you’ve been keeping up with even half of the other Marvel films, then this one will probably not disappoint. Doctor Strange set out with the main purpose of introducing the magical and mystical element that will surely only grow in later films. It succeeded in that venture. As you could probably tell this movie will be like a combination of Batman Begins + Inception + The Matrix + Iron Man + Guardians of the Galaxy. (In that exact order.)
I know I said before, but let me really emphasize this. The 3D is absolutely worth every penny. If you’ve been frugal all year or if you’re the type of person who doesn’t like to spend more for 3D, consider Doctor Strange to be that one film you make an exception for. I only wish I had the chance to screen in 3D IMAX because I’m sure it would’ve been even better. If you choose to view this in any other lesser format, you can already expect for this film to be devalued. (Or take 1 point off the rating below.) I think it’s safe to say that Doctor Strange is a must see in theaters. There are two end credit scenes, so don’t be that person who walks out too early. May the Force be with…(sorry…wrong movie) I mean Abra-Ka-Dabra! (Disappears in a puff of smoke.)