The introduction to magic in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I’m not a Doctor Strange fan as I’ve never touched one of his books, so I went into this with a blank slate.
Doctor Strange is good. That’s how I felt about it from beginning, middle, to end. The highs are high and the lows are generic and boring.
Dr. Stephen Strange is a gifted neurosurgeon and an obnoxious man. That is until he gets into a car crash that severely damages his hands. Then, he’s just an obnoxious man. With his life’s purpose gone, Strange is adrift. On the search for alternative healing, he finds a whole new world he thought could not exist. The mystic realm is a powerful and mind altering place and Dr. Strange falls in right when the earth needs a defender from another dimension.
The set up is certainly nothing special and I found Steven Strange a hard character to like before he’s “reborn.” In fact, I found few characters in here to really care about. They all fit a worn out mold and at worst, they’re present to do little more than explain things to the audience (Mordo and Wong). Benedict Cumberbatch as Strange does his Cumberbatchiest to put on an American accent. Cast wise my easy favorite is Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One. She can class up any role she takes and TAO is by far the most interesting and well fleshed out character in the movie.
The other sore thumb in this movie is the humor. Just about all of it hits the dirt like a big mouth bass gasping to live. I don’t know if it’s this way in the comics, but Strange’s cloak being sentient rubbed me the wrong way. As far as I’m concerned the only living fabric I can believe in is the rug from Aladdin. I don’t want to use the word stupid but there it is.
Now for the pluses. I’m a big Mads Mikkelson fan and he gobbles up every scene as Kaecilus. Sure his motivations for villainy is about as complex as Strange’s origin but at least he looks cool doing it. I think he’s one of the better MCU villains.
Also, this movie is a knockout in the VFX department. I think they invented new colors for the mystic elements that bend, twist, and warp around the screen. It’s wild to look at and the magic elements lead to really interesting and unique action. Also unique, I never thought I’d see tutting used as a fighting technique. That’s a brilliant idea to use as the basis for conjuring spells. Put the digital fireworks over that and you get visuals that would make the Fullmetal Alchemist cast jealous. The climax of the third act is fantastic too, which made up for much of the early boredom I felt.
Of all the Marvel movies released so far, Doctor Strange sits somewhere in the middle for me. Worth a rental when you find you have the time.