Doctor Strange Review | Mystical Mediocrity

It’s that time of year where Marvel Studios releases the next entry for their ever growing cinematic universe. Movie-goers are welcomed into the mind-bending realm of the mystical with Doctor Strange.

Doctor Strange follows the origin story of Dr. Stephen Strange and his journey of becoming the newest hero for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Played by Benedict Cumberbatch, Stephan Strange is a world-renowned neurosurgeon who relies on his steady hands to perform his work. After a terrible accident leaves his hands in an inoperable state, Strange desperately searches for help. This leads him to meeting the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) and acquiring his mystical abilities.

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Marvel origin movies have a tendency to be the best in the industry but Doctor Strange is not one of those films. We move very fast through the accident and onto the butt-kicking for good reason. Stephen Strange has a stale origin story that doesn’t carry much substance. The audience doesn’t have any time to grasp Strange’s situation and relationships before having to feel sympathetic for his accident. This cliff note like introduction is arguably not needed. Doctor Strange would have been better for a role like Black Panther or Spider-Man where his story was already established.

This quick-fire introduction raises more questions then answers. What kind of relationship did Strange have with Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams)? What was their history, are they just co-workers or more than that? We get a little bit into their relationship but it is never really clear on what kind it is. Then after Strange departs and meets the Ancient and undergoes training, an unknown amount of time passes. It went from a man with no knowledge of the mystical to controlling it like a master. How long did this training take? It was done in a short amount of time in the film but no clear sense of time was given. It took 7 years in the comics, but not nearly that long in the film. So how long was it? No idea. As a result, Doctor Strange is choppy and rushed.

A strong cast graces Doctor Strange alongside Cumberbatch, including Mads Mikkelsen and Chiwetel Ejiofor. With such an amazing group of actors, there were not any true outstanding performances. Cumberbatch was fine, nothing more or less. He did his job well but didn’t bring anything that could not have come from any other actor. McAdams is hardly present. Tilda Swinton carries the movie with her powerful presence as a leader and teacher. She has a demeanor of peace but then kicks into high-gear when needed to and is a joy to watch.

Marvel's DOCTOR STRANGE L to R: The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) and Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) Photo Credit: Jay Maidment ©2016 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

Where Doctor Strange clearly shines are it’s amazing special effects. From the small mystical hand weapons to the mind-bending, Inception style fight sequences. It would be hard for anyone to deny this fact. Early on, Strange receives an introduction to worlds beyond our own and will overwhelm you with the most stunning visuals. Alongside that, there are a couple fight sequences that are very creative with involving time and messing with the world. One in particular is a fight that is happening while the world is reversing around our characters. For these reasons, Doctor Strange excels in this category.

Praise needs to be given on the costume design for Doctor Strange. Marvel Studios created a costume that is modern yet reminiscent of Ditko’s original design. It is a beautiful piece of work and its refreshing to see it not drastically changed from what fans know and love. Reflective of that choice is evident in the rest of the film’s costume design. From the Ancient One to the enemies of the Dark Dimension, they all look fantastic.

Marvel's DOCTOR STRANGE..L to R: Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch)..Photo Credit: Film Frame ..©2016 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

In conclusion, Doctor Strange is a breath of fresh air in the comic book genre with its mystical element and creative special effects. It is a prime example that it’s okay to keep the original design of the costumes and get away with it. Doctor Strange won’t go down as one of the popular Marvel movies but kudos for the studio to trying something different. Don’t expect another Iron Man or Avengers, but despite it’s shortcomings Doctor Strange offers a lot of entertainment that will be sure to please all.

 

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