STARRING: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Michael Stuhlbarg, Benjamin Bratt, Scott Adkins, Mads Mikkelsen and Tilda Swinton
A former neurosurgeon embarks on a journey of healing only to be drawn into the world of the mystic arts.
Marvel’s Doctor Strange has us follow talented neurosurgeon Doctor Stephen Strange who, after a tragic car accident, must put aside his ego and learn the secrets of a hidden world of mysticism and alternate dimensions.
Marvel’s Doctor Strange marks the fourteen film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and while it may carry the same comedic style we’ve come to expect from Marvel Studios, it certainly has its own unique look and feel compared to the rest of the MCU. Benedict Cumberbatch plays a neurosurgeon who is deeply afraid of failure and is relentless in the pursuit of trying to regain the use of his hands that he once had before his car accident, which leads him to Nepal and encountering The Ancient One, who introduces Doctor Stephen Strange to the world of magic and alternate dimensions.
Visually, the film is a terrific spectacle to watch on the big screen when it comes to the use of magic and sorcery with its kaleidoscope-visuals. Having very little knowledge with the character from the Doctor Strange comics, I thought the film done a decent job in building the character and explaining the world of sorcery and the multiverse. Cumberbatch was really good in the role for me as Strange and a character that definitely intrigued me with his arc as a character that was only out to look out for himself at the start, to ending up being the protector of all the realms by films end. Tilda Swinton was also good as The Ancient One, despite the controversy that surrounded her casting in the role. Despite being sidelined after the first act of the film, Rachel McAdams I thought was decent as well and had good chemistry with Cumberbatch. I’ll talk more about Mads Mikkelsen’s role as Kaecilius below, I will say there’s one scene he shares with Cumberbatch that I felt the reasoning for his characters motivations. Also Michael Giacchino, take a bow because this is the best original score from a Marvel Studios film I’ve heard in a long time.
For all its sense of going for the spectacle with the visuals, i still had some issues when it came to then and also the fact I found the origin story to be paper thin. The kaleidoscope-visuals are terrific when they’re first revealed to us the audience, but for me once it comes to the final act in particular, the visuals end up overshadowing what’s happening on the surface, taking the focus away from the characters. In the magic/sorcery battle sequences, the fast cuts might cause a headache to keep up with what’s going on and who is attacking who with close shots to shaky-cam combat shots in quick succession. The MCU is known for its certain type of humour and here particularly it feels noticeably out of place, I’m still trying to figure out how they thought the Beyonce gag was a good idea but everyone has their taste in comedy, here the majority of it felt forced for me. While Cumberbatch is given a meaty character arc to deal with, unfortunately the majority of the cast is sidelined in that regard, though Chiwetel Ejiofor’s character Mordo looks set to be given more to work with come the inevitable sequel. The handling of the different dimensions that exists (Mirror, Dark) may still end up being confusing to some people and how the final act plays out at the end makes we wonder how any stakes can be felt whenever Stephen Strange will appear in a future Avengers film or his own sequel after he learns to master a particular magic to bail the universe out of jail as it were. Again, while Mads brings a certain menacing presence on screen as Kaecilius, I still didn’t feel him provide much threat to the world. Maybe its because now I’ve become numb to the MCU formula of not only do they mostly have weak villains, but the heroes will 99% of the time foil their plans.
Doctor Strange is a film worth seeing on the big screen for the kaleidoscope-visuals alone, but it helps that Benedict Cumberbatch gives a good leading performance as the title character. Unfortunately as a whole, it still feels like it missed that extra something to make the film great for me. 6/10