Doctor Strange

Marvel delivers once again

I have been looking forward to this movie from the moment it was announced that Benedict Cumberbatch would be playing the titular character. I kept hearing and reading that the character was a second tier character (or was it third) and not well known. I found that a wee bit surprising because I grew up on Doctor Strange; from the comics to the animations so I was well aware of the character. Then again I have always tended to willingly read or watch anything Marvel related so I guess while I may not be alone in this, I’m certainly among a few who were really aware of the character and were super psyched to know it was being made. With that little premise out of the way, let’s dig into the movie.

Synopsis

Doctor Strange tells the story of a very talented doctor who was at the top of his game. An extremely brilliant man who knows he’s good at what he does and knows it. He gets involved in an accident that ruins his hands and in order to find answers and healing, he comes across an ancient temple led by The Ancient One who opens his mind to things he never thought possible and he finds himself deciding whether to walk away or stay and fight evil that no one else can.

It’s your classic origin story. Another one from Marvel Studio and after Iron Man, Ant-Man and Captain America: The First Avenger, you’d have thought we would have gotten tired of seeing this but somehow Marvel has the ability to make each one different while the core of the story remains the same. It doesn’t feel old or boring.

Benedict Cumberbatch plays Doctor Strange really well and you can see glimpses of his character from Sherlock (highly intelligent and a little condescending) but he meets his match with Tilda Swinton’s The Ancient One who not only lets him know his place in this world, but makes him realize that he can be so much more if he would only just look within himself and realize that everything that happens isn’t always about him.

I know there seems to be an issue with casting a woman to play a character that is meant to be Asian and male but I didn’t see anything wrong with this casting. Personal sentiment of course but I believe I am entitled to it.

She plays her character really well which isn’t surprising and she comes off as being wise, vulnerable and secretive all in one go and I believe that’s what the character was meant to portray.

Chiwetel Ejiofor (Karl Mordo) was also in this movie if you can believe it. It’s easy to forget that he’s more than a face usually. In this movie he has so little to do other than to look stoic but being that he shows up much later (you should really watch the after credits of this one) I feel that he is going to show up either in the sequel or another Marvel movie and his character is going to be expanded there.

When looked at from that point of view, his limited scope here can be forgiven but when looking at this movie in its own right, he feels purely wasted.

Another wasted character is Wong played by Benedict Wong. I think he was meant to be the comic relief here. Maybe I’m wrong but that’s how it felt.

Speaking of jokes, Marvel is known for throwing them into their movies from time to time (make that all the time) and for the most part they usually work. Not quite so with this one. The best joke of the movie is in the trailer and the other jokes while nor landing completely flat were a little bit off (I think they were meant to be though being that the character who was meant to be receiving the jokes also didn’t laugh) and even Doctor Strange himself began to feel he was trying too hard.

There was a little sequence in the library later on that was quite funny actually and it made me chuckle. I think that was a pretty neat trick how they used the magic and I look forward to more use like that in the future.

That brings me to the most fun part of Doctor Strange. You’ll hear/read a lot that this is different from other Marvel movies in the SFX department and that is so true. You’ll hear and read words like “psychedelic” and “trippy” and all that being used to describe what’s going on and that is very true. It has an Inception like feel in this department but it tops it over and over again. Let’s just say that while Inception was getting started with the mind bending effects, Doctor Strange takes it up a notch.

There were times the action was a bit hard to follow (then again it might have been the cinema screen…it was darker than usual and not as bright as I would prefer) until the sequence that ends the second act of the movie. It was a beauty to watch everything meld into itself and the use of magic to me never felt out of place.

Somehow in my head it fit in perfectly with the feel of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and I see wonderful things coming in the future. To end this, the finale of the movie is the best I have seen in a long time. I don’t think such a sequence has ever been done in a movie before. If it has, I’ve never seen it and I would really like to, so please tell me. Makes me think of Coldplay’s The Scientist. That’s all I’ll say about that.

Doctor Strange is a worthy addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and I believe they have another hit on their hands. It is fun, it is engaging, it’s never dull and is a fun way to introduce sorcery and magic into this otherwise very seemingly grounded superhero world.

Final Score: 8/10