Title: Doctor Strange
Director: Scott Derrickson
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen
Synopsis: A former neurosurgeon embarks on a journey of healing only to be drawn into the world of the mystic arts.
Doctor Strange is the latest chapter in the ever-so-popular Marvel cinematic universe. Marvel has proven with films like Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man, that they can release comic book films that don’t star characters that aren’t recognizable globally but still reach a mass audience and gain success. Doctor Strange is no different. I personally have never heard of this character before watching this film, but it didn’t stop me from my excitement to watch the film and learn about the character. Marvel is also known to embrace different film genres in their films. Guardians of the Galaxy is more of a space opera, while Ant-Man was pretty much a heist film. Doctor Strange is more fantasy than anything Marvel has done. The character, Doctor Strange, is very different compared to the other superheroes in the Avengers, and the film embraces that. Like Ant-Man, the action sequences are very unique and original, but still entertaining and fun. The characters in the film contain very unique powers that allow them to go into different dimensions and imaginative landscapes. They can even go out of their body literally at any point in time. The powers may seem complex, but they never feel too confusing or hard to follow. I just hope they don’t overcomplicate things as the franchise goes further.
The central character is portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch, who has plenty of experience portraying iconic characters from Sherlock Holmes to Khan from Star Trek. With Doctor Strange, Cumberbatch is tasked to play a flawed character who is arrogant, pretentious, and even rude at times. He isn’t the most likable character at first, but we learn he also has some good qualities to him like his diligence and desire to help others. This is certainly a complex character, but that’s what makes him so fascinating to watch. Cumberbatch does a fine job portraying him. Is he as charming and charismatic as Robert Downey Jr.? No. Also some of his more comical lines kind of fell flat. I never considered Cumberbatch do be the best comedic actor. However, he is an immensely talented actor who excels in bringing raw emotion to his characters and was very convincing as the essential character that he was. You believe that he is this extremely intelligent New York surgeon, and you root for him, because he has this good side to him, even though he can be very harsh at times.
It was really refreshing to see, a long with Cumberbatch, these extremely talented actors like Swinton, Ejiofor, and Mikkelsen in a big-budget action film. These are some of the most talented actors of our time, who have proven their talents time and time again in critically acclaimed films. Even though the writing wasn’t that great (I’ll get to that later), they were all still very convincing in their roles and really acted their butts off. My favorite character was Tilda Swinton’s The Ancient One. This is a character that was a scene stealer and had so many great lines. The best scenes in the film were the ones that focused on The Ancient One teaching Doctor Strange her powers. It reminded me a lot of the scenes with Liam Neeson and Christian Bale in Batman Begins. Even though Doctor Strange, as a character, isn’t one of the most interesting in the franchise, this film was still very compelling because of its breathtaking action sequences and visual effects. The words trippy and mystical are ones I never thought I would use for a comic-book film, but this film sure fits that bill. We have really gone far with what can be shown in a super-hero film. Even though this film has a lot of positives, there were definitely some flaws that were hard not to ignore.
First of all, with this film being a part of the Marvel universe, it did feel contained with its overall story structure and narrative. Despite is very unique style and action sequences, the plot was very unoriginal and clichéd at times. It’s your typical comic book superhero origin story. The character begins normal, some event happens which leads him to gain powers, and there’s always someone out to stop him in the end. The main villain and love interest in the film were very one-dimensional and bland, despite the performances from the actors being as good as they could have been. Also the chemistry between Cumberbatch and McAdams wasn’t that great. There weren’t a lot of scenes they had to work with. I did however like that they were former lovers, instead of co-workers who ended up falling in love in the film. That was new and refreshing to see. With this being an origin story, the main villains and love interest weren’t the main focus, so those are minor flaws that didn’t ruin the film for me. There’s no denying this film could have been more artistic and creative, using its style as an advantage to create a more surreal, dream state, but this is a film that is meant to reach a large audience and entertain people of all ages. I think overall, it succeeded in doing that.
Overall, Doctor Strange is a breathtaking and fascinating new take on the super-hero genre. This film feels very fresh with its unique action and mystical design. A lot of people are saying it is Harry Potter meets Iron-Man, which I will agree with. Also I would compare it to Inception with its visual effects and set pieces. It offered an immensely talented cast with performances that were all top-notch. However, it lacked in originality with its narrative and overall plot. The final climax wasn’t very compelling, just because most people already know Doctor Strange will survive because he is already lined up for more Marvel movies. With that being said, Marvel hits another home-run for 2016. With its ambitious style and unique characters, this is by far the most unique Marvel film, and is a must see for anyone that is a fan of the Marvel films or just comic-book films in general. My grade for this film is: