Doctor Strange is not only one of the best films that Marvel has to offer, but it’s also one of the most entertaining of the year. Benedict Cumberbatch manages to cast an exhilarating spell not only throughout Superhero cinema but over action movies in 2016 as a whole. So, yes, you could say that I enjoyed the film.
Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of the egotistical neurosurgeon is spot-on. Much like one could not ask for a more perfect fit for Iron Man than Robert Downey Jr., the actor seems tailor-made for the role of Doctor Strange, shedding his British accent in favor of an American one while still retaining much of what makes Cumberbatch so unmistakably… Cumberbatch. After a near-fatal car accident leaves Stephen Strange with hands too shaky to perform surgery, his career seems to be over. But when he finds out about a man who has supposedly come back from being paraplegic, Strange travels to Tibet in search of Kamar-Taj, a mystical hideout for a legion of sorcerors.
There, he meets The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) who takes him under her wing, as well as another powerful sorcerer named Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor). As Strange excels in his studies, it becomes clear that he is a natural in the art of magic, and soon becomes wrapped up in a battle against Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), who has stolen pages from a powerful book belonging to The Ancient One which will summon a being called Dormammu and open up the Dark Dimension. This, Kaecilius believes, can defeat death; the Dark Dimension is not governed by the laws of time.
I’ve grown very tired of origin stories and have felt the fatigue of comic book adaptations. I’m sick of Wolverine, bored with Iron Man, and can’t really stomach another new face for Spider-Man. Doctor Strange, however, is an interesting premise in itself. Strange has never been at the forefront of Marvel, and so the prospect of seeing him get his own feature film had an immense appeal to me. While I was more confused than anything about making an Ant-Man movie, Doctor Strange seemed like a wonderful idea. The character does not have super powers. He works with magic, which he learned, and is now able to harness – there is a mystical quality to Strange that few Marvel characters possess.
This origin story feels fresh, despite more than one needed cliche. It’s a classic story of a man who has his sense of reality turned upside and his life thrown through a loop; he takes a situation in which his life was supposed to be over and instead turns into something more powerful than he could have ever imagined. However, in contrast with many other origin tales, we don’t see much trial-and-error. Strange starts learning how to master magic and is almost immediately a pro. This does not bother me in the slightest. He’s got a photographic memory, he has already mastered neurosurgery, and is overconfident in every area of his life. Though I can see many complaining that he became something extraordinary too soon, the hardship and struggle of the hero learning to use his new tools is overdone. Sorry. I’m more of the school that it should just be gotten over with – you all know the end product of who the hero is, so why waste your precious time?
That’s partly a joke. I understand that it’s necesary sometimes, but please forgive me. My fatigue is clearly showing.
Alternatively, one of the biggest surprises of the film is Strange’s relationship with his cape. It appears to have a mind of his own. His cape has – and I can’t believe I’m writing this – personality. It jokes with the Doctor and adds some light humor to the film. Not like that area of humor is really needed – the film is filled with quips and jokes, mostly coming from Cumberbatch – but more is always welcome in my book. These types of movies are supposed to be fun. They are supposed to entertain, and Doctor Strange does that perfectly.
As with most films in the MCU, the effects in this film are top-notch. The difference is that within this film, the story allows a psychedelic and extremely trippy aspect to be conveyed on screen. I’m not encouraging the use of substances before watching it, but I will say this: if you’re into that kind of stuff, this is a movie that perfectly suits your hobby. There’s floating through space. A time loop. Time moves backward. Reality is distorted and the astral plane is explored. It’s pretty far out, man.
If there’s one negative thing I could say about this film, it is that it’s too short. I would have loved to see at least another hour of Cumberbatch as Strange. But hey, that’s what sequels are for, aren’t they? And come on. This is Marvel we are talking about here. I expect a reasonable amount of Doctor Strange movies. Fifteen sounds good, no?
The Geeked Gods Score: 4.5/5. Amazing.
Doctor Strange is exhilarating. A must-watch.