Doctor Strange (2016)
Doctor Strange is a good addition to the MCU, but shares the same shortcomings as the other films.
Doctor Strange follows the eponymous character—Dr. Steven Strange. Strange, who is a brilliant neurosurgeon, performs surgeries on critical and close-to-death patients. While Strange uses his skills to help treat and cure many patients, he relishes more in the idea of attaining fame and fortune, rather than improving the lives of others. One night, while driving to a convention, Strange collides into another car, falls off the mountain, and crashes. When awoken, Strange finds his hands severely damaged. Because of the crash, his hands suffer from nerve damage, which keeps him from maintaining full control of his hands; consequently, Strange can no longer practice neurosurgery. To gain the full use of his hands, Strange tries many experimental procedures but to no success. Desperate to work as a surgeon again, he decides to try eastern medicine.
Strange later travels to Kathmandu, Nepal to seek a miracle. There, Strange meets Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) who opens his mind to the mystic arts. Fascinated by what he discovers, Strange joins to learn more about the mystic arts to fix his hands. Because of his high intelligence, Strange excels at learning these practices. Soon after, Strange encounters Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), a sorcerer who stole an important ritual that would stop time. Now with a new enemy, Strange must decide whether to heal his body and go back to work as a surgeon or to use his new power to stop Kaecilius from destroying the world.
Directed by Scott Derrickson, Doctor Strange is arguably Marvel’s visually-stunning film. The director and crew provides some of the most realistic visual effects in a MCU yet. Scenes where characters are moving buildings around could have looked weird and awkward, but Derrickson ensures that every major scene looks real, and at the same time, appealing to look at.
From a directorial standpoint, Derrickson succeeds at crafting great visual effects for Doctor Strange, but stumbles, when filming the action set pieces. The fight scenes involving hand-to-hand fisticuffs are choppy and lacks the great action choreography seen in previous Marvel entries. That said, Doctor Strange is still a ton of fun and engages viewers from beginning to end, with great acting performances from the cast.
On an acting level, the roster of actors provides solid performances in Doctor Strange. Benedict Cumberbatch embodies the character of Strange with gravitas, charm, and wit. As expected, Cumberbatch delivers a good performance, solidifying his space in future MCU films. Rachel McAdams, who plays Christine Palmer—Strange’s ex and colleague—provides a solid performance as Strange’s love interest. As mentioned, the character Christine is relegated to the role of the main superhero’s love connection—as seen in Thor (Jane) and other Marvel movies. That aside, McAdams does well with what she’s given. Other supporting actors Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton, Benedict Wong, and Mads Mikkelsen deliver good performances, but the characters they play lack sufficient characterization to make them memorable—especially Mikkelsen’s Kaecilius. Kaecilius is a lackluster villain in the film, proving that the MCU has a perennial problem that needs to be reformed. Despite the lack of characterization, Mikkelsen brings gravitas and suppressed anger to the role, giving viewers enough reasons to believe in the villain’s motivations. Mikkelsen’s performance in the role as the no-nonsense sorcerer provides a good foil to the comically Doctor Strange.
Speaking of the comical nature of Steven Strange, the title character says jokes throughout the film. In many cases, the jokes are a hit or miss. Strange’s jokes come off as forced, which in turn, creates awkward scenes with other characters. As a result, some viewers may see that Marvel studios is trying to make Doctor Strange a fun-action adventure, while others may see it as their desperate attempt to make an Iron Man/Ant-Man-esque origin story/comedy.
Despite the forced humor and its shortcomings, Doctor Strange is a visually-appealing film filled with loads of action and poignant drama, with great acting performances from the entire cast.
Rating: 4 out of 5
- First image: Comicbook.com
- Second image: thescenemagazine.ca
- Third image: Bustle