The Marvel Cinematic Universe has existed for almost 10 years now and has introduced a ton of fans’ favorite heroes to the big screen. From a man with serious anger issues to an ex-convict who can harness the ability to shrink to the size of an ant, Marvel has shown us that if the right people are involved, pretty much almost every comic book character could work in live-action whether they’re well known or not. The MCU has done a great job in juggling its heroes so far, but with Phase 3 coming to an end and Phase 4 preparing to start, it’s time for some new faces to emerge onto the scene. The first of those new faces is Doctor Strange who’s solo film is set to introduce magic and mysticism to the MCU in a way the Thor movies never did, and after having left the theater, I can see Doctor Strange becoming a household name very quickly. Let’s get into the review.
Cast & Characters:
Benedict Cumberbatch knocks it out of the park as the titular character, perfectly channeling the cocky and eccentric personality that Stephen Strange possesses in the comics. I’ve seen some people say that Strange’s character could be compared to that of Tony Stark’s, but I, however, I failed to see the resemblance. Tony is a rich, arrogant businessman, and while Strange does possess a few of those traits, I never found myself comparing the two. It’s going to be interesting seeing these two geniuses interact in future Marvel films. Chiwetel Ejiofor and Tilda Swinton both did an excellent job at portraying Mordo and the Ancient One respectively. With the knowledge of Baron Mordo being an enemy of Strange’s in the comics, it was interesting to not only see him as a mentor to Strange but also a friend. It was cool to see their relationship develop over the course of the film and I’m now even more intrigued on how it’ll continue to develop down the line. Benedict Wong’s character seemed like a waste, only existing in the film as some form of (unnecessary) comic relief who almost always seemed to be out of place.
Aside from the controversy surrounding Swinton’s casting as the Ancient One, I think she did a pretty decent job in the role, but there’s a particular moment in her official introduction that might rub some fans the wrong way when it comes to wanting to see The Ancient One accurately represented on screen.
The visuals are what truly won me over with this film. Doctor Strange has some of the more unique and trippy visuals I’ve ever seen in any movie and the way the action blends with them just puts it over the top for me. I wasn’t expecting to see some of the unique ways that the sorcerers fought, using various types of magic abilities from rearranging the structure of a hallway to switch the match up on his/her opponent, to using portals to send their enemies to a random part of the world with a single touch; I was on the edge of my seat each time a battle ensued, anticipating the next spectacular moment. One thing I was worried about was that each battle was going to feel the same as the last and I can happily say that Scott Derrickson did a masterful job in making each one feel fresh, unique and different from the last. There’s a certain sequence towards the end of the film that had me scratching my head due to the nature of what I was seeing. I’ve never seen something so creative in a CBM before, and I’m anticipating the Blu-Ray release to see how they pulled off such a spellbinding sequence. Seeing Stephen Strange past through vast, colorful dimensions and various other trippy moments, it felt like I was on some kind of acid trip (Although I’ve never dropped acid, I’m sure this is what it feels like.) So many moments in the film felt like a living, breathing comic book panel.
This is a spoiler-free review, so I won’t go into tremendous detail when it comes to the film’s plot, but I believe Doctor Strange fans will be euphoric with what they find in the movie’s story. It’s nothing groundbreaking which is what I expected, considering this is an origin story. However, I’ve always been a sucker for a story like this: the protagonist loses something that meant the world to them, and then throughout the film you see them dig down deep in themselves and become something greater than what they initially set out to be.
My only legit complaint about Doctor Strange is an issue Marvel’s had with its films for awhile and has yet to fix. Whether you’re a Marvel fan or not, it’s pretty apparent that aside from Red Skull and Loki, the MCU has been severely lacking in the villain department and unfortunately that trend continues here. Once again Marvel fails to bring an exciting and compelling villain to the big screen. Mads Mikkelson does well with what he’s given as Kaecilius, but I would’ve preferred to see him written a little better and given more to do. He kind of just shows up and starts reeking havoc and we never really get to know him aside from a few very quick mentions of his background. I think the film also suffers from the villain not being well known at all. Perhaps a character like Dormammu – someone a lot of Marvel fans know – would’ve been a better choice as Doctor Strange’s first test as Sorcerer Supreme.
I’ll be honest; I haven’t been the biggest fan of the recent movies Marvel has put out. Between Age of Ultron, Ant-Man, and my issues with Civil War, I was beginning to think that the MCU was starting to lose its novelty and becoming predictable, but Doctor Strange has renewed my faith in this universe. The introduction of magic, mysticism, and the multiverse has opened a multitude of new doors for this cinematic universe, and I’m excited to see where it goes. Strap in ladies and gentlemen, the MCU is just getting started.
One thing I’d like to add is that I saw the film in IMAX 3D. I’ve never been a huge fan of 3D due to it giving me a headache, and that surprisingly didn’t happen in this case. The trippy scenes and action set pieces are amplified ten fold in IMAX. If you’re seeing Doctor Strange this weekend, IMAX is the way to go.
Doctor Strange arrives in theaters on Friday.