Sure, this review is a tad bit late. Sure, this movie has been released for quite some time already. But here’s a quick review of the newest superhero film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Doctor Strange. Overall, the film was a breath of fresh air to the Marvel Universe introducing both the titular hero and the concept of magic. If you’re tired of watching the massive barrage of superhero movies, maybe Doctor Strange might change your mind.
As an introduction to the character, Doctor Strange is your typical superhero origin story. The cynical, realistic Stephen Strange (portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch) is thrust into a world that goes against everything he believes in. The film is enjoyable from start to finish although, its humour comes off forced at times.
While the explanation of magic may be confusing at first but it doesn’t detract from the story. The film cleverly handles the juxtaposition of the real and the mystical; especially in the hospital scene where Strange simultaneously fights an enemy in his astral form while struggling to survive in his corporeal form.
The film’s main conflict is basic yet a clever payoff in its finale – a problem Marvel always seems to have concerning its villains. Nevertheless, it’s a refreshing take on the superhero genre and the film ultimately leads to a satisfying conclusion with its post-credit scenes: leaving Strange to further interact with the larger Marvel Universe and setting up possible sequel(s) to come.
Despite there being a lot of controversy over the casting of some characters (a matter that should be saved for another post), the characters are well-crafted for the story and help establish the world of Doctor Strange.
Stephen Strange begins as a self-centred, logical man who then develops into a more caring being, embracing the spiritual to become the titular hero that is Doctor Strange. Despite these dramatic changes to his life, Strange continues to be his witty, cynical self – constantly challenging and questioning his newfound powers and status. He brings something new from previous Marvel heroes: an introduction to magic means an introduction to a new form of hero.
Many of the secondary characters deviate from their comic book counterparts, most of which are a welcome change. The steadfast natured Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) holds his own against Strange in many ways than one while Wong (Benedict Wong) is a much stronger, more important character in comparison to the character in the comics. Despite the conflict of the story being lacklustre, the villains (while still not as complex or as well-developed) stand well on their own.
As for the women in the film, Tilda Swinton effortlessly captures the grace, strength and wisdom of the Ancient One. On the other hand, Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams) strays from the love interest trope in Marvel films as Strange’s former flame – adding more depth to any past love interest in previous Marvel movies.
One of the greatest strengths and highlights of Doctor Strange is the visuals. The effects are amazing and certain scenes of the film (particularly those happening outside of Earth) pay tribute to the psychedelic origins of the original comic books. From start to finish, it’s a visual rollercoaster that conveys the normalities of life and the fantastical moments that comes with the world of sorcery. Doctor Strange stands out from Marvel predecessors because of the different tone that is conveyed through its visual spectacle – something that Marvel should continue to bring in future films.
A brief mention should be made to the music within the film which, again, strays from what has been established in previous Marvel movies. The music clearly conveys that this is a different superhero that we’re dealing with. The harpsichord creates a mysterious yet magical vibe – especially when Strange accepts his status as a hero. The music is cleverly crafted to aid the telling of this new form of superhero, almost as if the music was a character itself.
If you haven’t seen Doctor Strange, watch it for the unique visual take on the Marvel origin story. The film is a refreshing take of the superhero genre: putting its own twist on established tropes and a welcome addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.