Marvel’s latest addition to the MCU, Doctor Strange, is a film that is wrapped in mystery for those that aren’t well versed in Marvel comics. While Doctor Strange plays a big role in the comics, people aren’t as familiar with the sorcerer as they are with Iron Man, Deadpool, or Spiderman. All that’s known is that the film has Sherlock playing as Strange, surprisingly hypnotic special effects, and a lot of hype to live up to. Though does the good doctor manage to hold up well against the more commonly known Avengers?
The film revolves around the brilliant, gifted, yet arrogant neurosurgeon Dr. Stephen Strange, played by Benedict Cumberbatch. His life comes crashing down when his hands are severely damaged in a car accident, leaving him unable to operate, among other things. Desperate for a solution, he is directed to Kamar-Taj where he discovers a powerful sorcerer known as the Ancient One, played by Tilda Swinton, who reveals to him the power of the mystical elements of the multiverse and magic, and that it can be used to remedy his predicament. After some begging from Strange, she accepts him as her pupil.
While she and fellow sorcerers Wong and Karl Mordo attempt to teach the doctor how to use magic, her former student Kaecilius threatens all of Earth with a plan to destroy the barriers keeping their dimension separated from the Dark Dimension and it’s sinister ruler Dormammu. Strange must learn to put his ego aside to master the mystical forces of the multiverse and work with his fellow sorcerers to save the world from a force that threatens all existence.
Immediately after watching this film, I couldn’t help but notice how Doctor Strange feels eerily similar to Iron Man, in terms of personality and slightly similar origins. The humor in the movie also seemed too silly at times. I don’t know much about Doctor Strange yet from what I feel like he’s not meant to be this comical. I gave it a pass though because most of the humor works and since this is Strange’s origin story, his actions can be justified given that he’s still training to be the Sorcerer Supreme that comic fans know. Plus, it’s intriguing watching Strange slowly learn about the value of other individuals, and that even though it’s his film, the world does not revolve around him.
Tilda Swinton plays the part of Strange’s wise, mysterious mentor well. Even though she keeps a straight face throughout the movie, Swinton’s voice carries a range of emotion and her actions exemplify the caring, insightful mentor that she is.
The same can be said for Wong, who was a delight to see in the movie and portrayed well by Benedict Wong. Wong comes off as also being wise and learned, yet also dedicated to his job. He’s stern but you can tell it’s for good reasons. His deadpan attitude works well with Strange’s personality and provides for some hilarious comedy, in addition to making him look more experienced than Strange.
The main antagonist Kaecilius is a forgettable Marvel movie villain like Justin Hammer or Malekith. His backstory is briefly glossed over, easy to miss, and he doesn’t have that much personality to him. I honestly can’t recall anything about him that stands out amongst other Marvel villains aside from one funny scene. While not the worst villain in the MCU, they could have done more to flesh out his character. Dormammu is another villain that I think could have been presented better. While they manage to set him up as one of the most powerful villains in the MCU, it would have been nice if he had been given more screen time but instead we’re just told that he’s menacing, all-powerful entity without showing it until the end. As for Mordo, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, I was surprised to see him as Strange’s mentor at the beginning but noticed him change and gather a new outlook on the world just like Strange. They have an interesting duality throughout the film that’s surprisingly enjoyable to watch. I can’t say much else without giving away any big spoilers but I hope that we’ll be seeing both Dormammu and Mordo in future films.
Finally, I can’t do a review of Doctor Strange without discussing the visuals and special effects. The effects in this film are stunning; if you’ve seen the trailers you’ll know what I’m talking about. The depiction of the mirror dimension and the alternate dimensions are psychedelic like viewing into a kaleidoscope. The way the landscapes are warped and distorted during fight scenes is surreal and breathtaking, like if you combined Inception with an MC Escher painting. It’s one of the film’s biggest appeals and worthy of the praise that it has received for making you feel like you’ve entered a new reality.
All in all, Doctor Strange is an excellent addition to the MCU line of movies and an entertaining film. I enjoyed the film and can guarantee that people will enjoy the film for one reason or another. Like with most Marvel movies, make sure to stay until after the credits for the bonus scenes.