SPOILER FREE FILM REVIEW: Doctor Strange
We’ve heard that Doctor Strange will reshape the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it. Does the movie live up to the hype and do justice on the Sorcerer Supreme’s origin?
Doctor Strange is one of those characters who you wouldn’t have imagined being brought to the big screen a few years ago, but a string of recent successes for Marvel Studios has ensured that Kevin Feige and company have the creative freedom to adapt anything these please at this point.
As superhero origin stories go, the movie admittedly follows the basic formula we’ve come to expect, but it does it in an interesting enough way that, like Deadpool, it manages to deliver something which still feels relatively fresh, new and exciting.
Neurosurgeon Stephen Strange is arrogant, narcissistic, and coldly turns away patients who don’t offer the chance to increase his notoriety in the medical world. However, after a car accident leaves the wealthy and successful doctor’s hands irreparably damaged, he sets off on a journey of self discovery, which ultimately leads him to a mysterious figure known as The Ancient One. It’s from here that things seriously pick up as Strange discovers that there’s a whole multiverse to be explored and powers to be gained, which could lead to him regaining the use of his hands or becoming one of the greatest heroes the world has ever known.
So, as I said before, it’s fairly standard stuff when it comes to comic book movie origin stories, but the performances from the cast and the immense visuals in Doctor Strange ensure that it’s elevated from the normal superhero fare. Benedict Cumberbatch couldn’t be cast any more perfectly as the Sorcerer Supreme in training, and he really makes you believe that Strange is someone who could embark on the journey he does here.
The always awesome Chiwetel Ejiofor (Mordo) also delivers a very multi-layered and interesting performance, while Benedict Wong’s aptly named Wong has some hilarious scene-stealing moments which will guarantee him to be a favourite amongst the fans. Tilda Swinton’s Ancient One is also pretty memorable, evoking an almost Yoda vibe, though perhaps the character ultimately doesn’t have the impact many expected would have expected when Marvel made that unconventional casting decision.
Mads Mikkelsen is on top form throughout the film (he’s just amazing in everything he acts in) but alas, he’s ultimately the latest in a long line of fairly forgettable Marvel movie villains. That’s not to say he isn’t effective, as he is used for the cleverly inserted pockets of exposition, but his character Kaecilius is never going to be up there with the likes of Loki and Ultron as one of this world’s more memorable villains.
Unfortunately, despite both doing well with what little they’re given, both Rachel McAdams (Christine Palmer) and Michael Stuhlbarg (Dr. Nicodemus West) do feel somewhat wasted. Their characters could have provided so much more but they’re nothing more than extended cameos, which is a shame given the talent that they clearly possess.
The visuals for Doctor Strange meanwhile are, well, out of this world. They really do enable the film to stand out and really puts it apart from the standard superhero movie. The imagination of director Scott Derrickson results in sequences which will leave your jaw on the floor watching Strange as he plummets through colourful dimensions and a New York City, which is folding in on itself echoing scenes from Inception. Unlike the vast majority of comic book movies, there’s literally never a moment where the CGI lets Doctor Strange down. The stellar visuals are all accompanied by Michael Giacchino‘s impressive score that proves to be the icing on the cake.
As an introduction to Doctor Strange and the rules his world conveys, the movie works perfectly. It’s clear that the character is going to become a big part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe for the future, and there is absolutely no limits when it comes to what that will mean both for the Sorcerer Supreme and the rest of the characters who inhabit this world. It’s not quite up there with some of Marvel’s other films like Guardians of the Galaxy and Deadpool, but Doctor Strange has opened the door to a whole new path for them to explore, and that’s well worth being excited about.
In ending I would definitely recommend go seeing this film; it’s funny, action packed and everything you would come to expect from a newly arrived Marvel origin film. I’m usually harsh on the Marvel films for being too cheesy at times but this is one of the few exceptions. Oh and stick around for the usual mid credits sequence…you won’t regret it!
Doctor Strange is in cinemas now!