A great time visually but a solid case for style over substance.
Finally, the much talked about, highly anticipated, daring new film in the MCU is here. “Doctor Strange” is directed by Scott Derrickson, an odd choice given he has spent much of his career in the horror genre, but regardless he directed a beautifully polished and visually stunning film. Benedict Cumberbatch fills the shoes of Doctor Strange and the rest of the cast is filled out by; Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton, Mads Mikkelsen, Rachel McAdams and Benedict Wong.
The story introduces us to Dr. Stephen Strange a man that is as intelligent as he is arrogant. He is a brilliant neurosurgeon who has lost a sense of emotion with his work, focusing more on his own stature than patient care. After he gets into an accident he spends virtually all his money trying to fix his hands to no result. With no other options, he turns to the side of mystical magic, travels to Nepal, meets The Ancient One, becomes Doctor Strange and you get the gist.
First; I will say I was very much anticipating this movie. I was one of many who waited in line for over an hour, just to see fifteen-minutes of this movie during the IMAX Sneak-Peak event, when I do have a life and a busy schedule. Even more so, the fifteen-minutes I did see blew me away and did its job in only making me want to see this film more than I already did.
The cast was fantastic, and Cumberbatch was an excellent choice for this role. There is no denying his talents as an actor and he puts his skills on full display in this role. He felt every bit the part of Doctor Strange and seemed tailored for the exaggerated arrogance of the character. Cumberbatch also carried this film on his shoulders, and in one performance did make the role his own in my opinion.
Tilda Swinton and Chiwetel Ejiofor were also great and both added a great deal of substance to the film with their performances. It was fun watching this trio of characters worked off one another and the chemistry between them was perfectly fitting for their dynamics. They carried the dialogue along with ease as the film explains the origins of the mystical theme in rather simple terms for everyone to understand and follow along. I knew next to nothing of Doctor Strange going into this movie and I can say the origins story this film delivers painted a clear picture of who this man is and what his capabilities were.
Now as for Mads Mikkelson, if you go back to my video for the IMAX Sneak-Peak you will see I had high hopes for him as a villain. He has played the bad guy, many times over the years and has shown to do it effectively. But in this film, he got completely Disney’d. I hope I get the term right but with the material he had to work with in this script, and his presentation in this film, he had about as much of a chance at creating an ominous villain as a one-legged man winning an ass kicking contest.
Once again, Marvel fails at creating a suitable villain, and since this merger with Disney the Marvel films have been showing the Disney imprint more and more with each passing title. It isn’t leading to bad movies, just uncompelling storylines that feel like carbon copies of others. The visuals in this film were amazing, they were top-of-the-line and with deep 3D layering it was as immersive as a film could get. The portrayal of the magic was awesome as well, and looked fantastic with incredible detail shown everywhere you look on the screen.
This aspect of the film blew me away and had me completely pulled in. Mixed with the detail of the wardrobes, appealing locations, and intricate set-designs it was fun to sit back and just feast on all there was to see. The problem with this movie, and the thing that disappointed me, was the copy-and-paste story the script followed. Now I know it’s an origins story, they must follow a certain slope, but this film was billed as the bold directional move in the MCU and it just didn’t feel one to me.
I guess I was expecting a truly different character that would bend time and the layers of the universe and all that crap that I can geek out over, throughout a new and unique feeling story. But this story was just like many others with all the usual stops along the way.
The first 30-40 minutes were amazing and had me completely engaged, but this story then follows the generic formula. Doctor Strange comes to form learning his powers, cue the weak villainous plot, add some grounded scenes with Rachel McAdams, also mild twist, and then bring in the climactic ending.
Now don’t get me wrong, this was a fun movie to see and the visuals are extremely well done. The performances were on their game and all fit the part, which help mask a routine story formula that didn’t take many chances at all. The story was not nearly as ambitious as the character of Doctor Strange. I do recommend checking this movie out though, it’s a wild ride of a time visually, there were many extraordinary moments, but unfortunately just as many ordinary ones.
Time: 115 min
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (For sci-fi violence and action throughout, and an intense crash sequence)