Film Review: Doctor Strange


Just when you think that the Marvel Cinematic Universe cannot have any more ideas that can outdo its previous strong performances, you’re proven wrong. Doctor Strange opens up the MCU and brings in the supernatural, magic, sorcerers and the (until this point) unknown multi-verse. They have gone beyond earth and outer space.

Benedict Cumberbatch is to Doctor Strange what Robert Downey Jr is to Tony Stark – arrogant, insecure and flawed. It is similar but very different. Strange is a neurosurgeon and Cumberbatch brings in a little of his British wit and intelligence to the character that you might not catch in the Marvel comic books. The premise of the film is simple. The protagonist is involved in a fatal accident and goes in search for a cure only to find himself involved with a much bigger threat.

We are first introduced to Stephen Strange, the best neurosurgeon in New York and he knows it. He is patronising to his colleagues and condescending to Rachel McAdams character, Christine. But with every high is a massive fall. Strange is in a car accident falling from a mountain road while talking on the phone in his sports car. His hands are ruined, which for a surgeon, ends his career and he spirals into depression.

This film takes its time in introducing its protagonist. It is a long and winding road before Strange gain his powers but it works and that comes down to the casting of choice of not only Cumberbatch but the supporting cast as well. Slowing the film down emphasis the character’s development, even for the lesser characters of the cast, like Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Mordo, Rachel McAdam’s Christine and Benedict Wong‘s Wong, helps the viewer better understand the dynamics between the cast. Especially with Tilda Swinton’s character.

The internet had a field day when Swinton was controversially cast as The Ancient One. A character who was originally an Asian man in the comic books. Some were going to boycott the film because of Hollywood were once again whitewashing an ethnic character Despite this the film raked in $86 million in its international opening weekend. Swinton’s portrayal is excellent as Strange’s mentor in the arts of magic. She takes on the unworldly Zen teacher and along with Cumberbatch, gives some of the best scenes in the film with their banter. Her version of The Ancient One, was written for this film, and the casting is justified in her portrayal.

Doctor Strange may not be as crazy and ethereal as the comics but for a Hollywood blockbuster it throws in some perfect punches, with the right balance between humour and action as well as the visuals when jumping into the multi-verse. Strange’s first trip into the multi-verse is nothing short of trippy and unusual to say the least. It reminds you what it takes to create a powerful fantasy blockbuster. Without the right CGI and supporting script, this would have been another flop fantasy film.

The end result was a flawless delivery. Great casting, a superb script, brilliant direction, spectacular editing and a good few Easter eggs that cement the film into the MCU (watch out for Stan Lee).  What this film has managed to do is turn a simple origin story into something more than you would expect, portraying it in a way that is very different to how they are normally played out.

As with all Marvel films you must stay and watch through the end credits. Strange is further cemented into the MCU with a scene between him and another Marvel hero favourite alluding to his appearance in a future film. Do not stop there as a post credits scene will have you itching for more.

Cross-posted here.


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