First of all, forgive me for being delinquent in writing my film reviews as of late. I’ve been really swamped with work lately that I hardly find the time to catch up on my writing but on occasion (like now), I do manage to sneak in some spare time to share my views and what better to get back on the horse than Marvel’s latest offering — Doctor Strange.
Brilliant neurosurgeon Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a superstar in his field, lives the high life and takes pride of his accomplishments. But a car accident results in serious injuries to his hands, rendering him unable to perform even the most basic of surgeries, leading him to fits of desperation and personal turmoil. However, he manages to find a glimmer of hope when he learns of a hopeless case who managed to make a complete turnaround with the help of sorcerers at Kamar Taj in Kathmandu. In the sanctuary, Strange is taught by the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) how to unlock the powers of his mind and helps him understand the nuances of the multiverse. In so doing, the Ancient One passes on the legacy of protecting the Sanctums and the knowledge to manipulate the fabric of time to her new disciple.
I’m a Marvel fan but I’m not very familiar with the mythos of Doctor Strange mainly because I’m not too attracted to his style. But getting a charismatic actor like Benedict Cumberbatch to play the role was a brilliant move on the part of the studio to get more fans invested in the character. It certainly worked for me.
Cumberbatch projects an equal balance of subtle sophistication that is needed for the role as well as a coolness to pull off the more comedic moments to the develop the character. He plays off other cast members with great skill too.
While the first film is mainly intended to set up the sequels the movie’s connection to the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films (multiverse, Thor and Infinity Stone) it managed to deliver the film in very entertaining fashion with a surreal, psychedelic vibe that seems trippy and weird in a good way. The execution of the CGI for the parallel dimensions was fluid and artistic adding to the overall beauty of the film.
I liked the character development that even while most of the stars had only limited exposure, their characters were well established like Chiwetel Ejifor as Mordo, Rachel McAdams as Dr. Christine Palmer and Benedict Wong as Wong. Even the Cloak of Levitation had great personality even though it was completely done in CGI.
I was sad though that Mads Mikkelsen’s Kaecilius took a bit of a backseat to Strange’s journey. I have a feeling that if his character was given more emphasis, he could have given it a lot more layers. In the same vein, I felt that the final resolution to the main conflict that was being built up from the beginning was a bit anticlimactic and lacked that dramatic feel that Cumberbatch would have delivered on with no problems at all. While the showdown was passable, the film played it too safe on this front.
Still, I liked the phasing of the movie because it was laid out in an exciting manner, and the script, while it talked about concepts like astral projection, alternate dimensions and the mystic arts also successfully managed to lay it out in understandable terms that fully explains the concept behind Doctor Strange’s powers and motivations. The approach was also similar to the approach employed by movies in the MCU franchise so there was a sense of kinship among the characters that are bound to intersect in future movies at one point or the other.
All in all, Doctor Strange was an interesting installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While the ending was open ended for possible sequels, fans would no doubt be invested enough to continue supporting the franchise.