Review of Doctor Strange

drstrange

Peter Parker, Steve Rogers, Tony Stark. I am usually quite good at memorizing the secret identities of superheroes, but for some reason I always forget Doctor Strange’s first name. Wow, I guess it is really true that when you’re strange no one remembers your name. Thankfully, for reviewing purposes, I can still recall this film’s premise. Doctor Strange, played by the talented Benedict Cumberbatch, is a gifted surgeon who is forced to retire when his hands get crushed in an automobile crash. The irreparable nerve damage he sustained causes Strange’s fingers to twitch more than me after one too many coffees. When medical science fails to treat his injury Strange decides to research magic in the hopes of uncovering a cure.

OVERVIEW

After receiving a tip off, from a paraplegic who can amazingly walk, Strange travels to Nepal in search of his own miraculous remedy. There he encounters an expert in the mystical arts known as the Ancient One. Under her tutelage he begins to learn astral projection, teleportation and other cool spells. Strange initially struggles to master sorcery, but thanks to his photographic memory he eventually absorbs enough knowledge to become one of the Ancient One’s top students. Man, I really envy Doctor Strange. How I long for a photographic memory, as I can be rather absent minded when it comes to recalling facts. For example, would you believe that I have completely forgotten the lead character’s forename?

Eventually the titular Doctor Strange assumes the mantle of sorcerer supreme and vows to protect Earth from evil using his wizardry skills. The global threats Strange battles in this flick are the Ancient One’s former protégé Kaecilius and a demon from another dimension named Dormammu. As is often the case with Marvel films neither antagonist is particularly compelling. Kaecilius, who desires immortality, is similar to Thor’s nemesis Malekith. They both look menacing and they both lack personality. Dormammu on the other hand is reminiscent of the live action Galactus (Fantastic Four) and Parallax (Green Lantern.) What’s the deal with turning epic villains into a miasma that barely gets any screen time? I can’t get excited about evil clouds.

VERDICT

My rating for Doctor Strange is four and a half stars. Watching this movie was a bit like the time I checked out Thor. I am not a fan of the comics starring Strange or the Norse deity, but I ended up loving both their movies all the same. The two-hour running time whizzed by thanks to the strong acting and comedic moments, which star Strange’s sentient cape and a straight-faced monastery librarian named Wong. Another highlight of note would have to be the action scenes. Given that the movie features conjurers, who can warp the fabric of reality, it should come as no surprise that Strange’s battles draw inspiration from stuff like the Matrix and Inception. Said sequences are creatively shot and very trippy… good thing then that I didn’t munch on any hash brownies during my screening.

I’ll conclude this review by getting on my soapbox and saying that all the hubbub about the Ancient One’s casting was unwarranted. Tilda Swinton kicked ass in this movie and I have no complaints regarding her portrayal of Strange’s wise mentor. Critics grumbling about the character being changed from Asian to Caucasian are hypocrites, because no one chastised the studio for altering the skin colour of Strange’s ally Karl Mordor. Ah whatever, let’s not dwell on negativity. Doctor Strange is excellent and I highly recommend it. Watching this film takes me back to the days when I would pretend to be a superhero. My crime-fighting alias was Goldfish Man. I possessed the power of super forgetfulness. Can you believe that I don’t remember Dr Strange’s first name?

32 thoughts on “Review of Doctor Strange

  1. I loved the look of the trailer for this, and definitely want to check it out once I’ve cleared some others off my list. The only problem is, whenever I see Benedict Cumberbatch now, I can’t unsee the thing he did on the Graham Norton Show where he acknowledged the internet’s fascination with him looking like an otter. It makes me expect to see more otters in his films, somehow:

  2. I’m glad I’m not the only one who made the Galactus-Parallax-Dormammu connection.

    This is my least favorite Marvel film so far, but I still liked it. It’s the only one I didn’t see more than once in the theaters, so I was anxious to see how I’d feel about it on second viewing when it hit Blu-Ray. I think I liked it more, but it’s going to be the one that I go back and watch the least. I think it’s well acted, well directed, well shot, and the effects are mind-blowing. It just isn’t all that much fun. I’m anxious to see MCU Dr. Strange interact with the rest of the MCU verse.

  3. I’ve been wanting to see this, but just haven’t had the chance. BC is one of my favorite actors (and a huge celebrity crush ❤️) second to Tom Hiddleston who plays Loki. Speaking of whom, to your point about Marvel villains, he’s hands down the best one in terms of depth and development (I love sympathetic villains…if that wasn’t already obvious), and I think much of it has to do with Tom’s stellar acting. Agreed utterly that many of the others are quite weak.

    In The Dark World, Loki easily steals the show from Chris Eccleston’s Malekith, and that’s due to the writing, not Eccleston (I love him as the Doctor, though Tennant is my favorite with Capaldi close behind). Marvel is great with dialogue and developing complex and compelling main characters. Also I’ve found then to just be a hell of a lot more fun.

    DC movies have little to no levity. There’s no joy in them, and I’ve always felt that comic relief is so necessary especially for the grimmest of tales.

    I’ve rambled over your excellent review lol.

    • Loki seems to be the exception to the Marvel villain rule. It’s a shame that many of the bad guys get killed off because it means there’s no hope that they will be developed upon in a sequel. Malekith is supposed to be a cool antagonist in the comics, but they did nothing with the character in the film. So much so that I wonder why they bothered casting Eccleston, because anyone who can look mean covered in makeup would have sufficed.

      • Exactly. And like I said, I really think Loki stood out because of Tom’s acting chops. I’m wondering if they had more with Eccleston’s Malekith that was edited out. They may not have wanted to make the same mistakes that DC has done with too many villains (thinking Spiderman 3) and Loki pretty much stole the show in TDW. Even though I think that’s the better Thor movie for quite a few reasons (better pacing is one of them. Thor isn’t a bad movie, but you can tell the director is more used to directed dramas. It’s Kenneth Branaugh of Shakespeare fame so it makes sense), but Loki just makes a better villain. They can’t keep using him as that though, because it’ll become trite really quickly. Eccleston was utterly wasted in that part.

  4. Tilda Swinton was brilliant casting for this movie. I wasn’t blown away by this movie but I’m glad it establishes Strange so he can start interacting w the rest of the MCU!

  5. I with you on the memory thing! I can’t remember what happened yesterday… I swear I wasn’t drinking either.

    Great review! I don’t know much about this strange doctor, but I want to see this movie now.

    • My memory is so bad that I may have to start tattooing notes on myself like the Memento guy. Booze has purged my mind of some things, although that’s probably for the best because the silliness I get up to whilst intoxicated is rather embarrassing.

  6. Great review! I’m so far behind on the Marvel, and DC films, but glad to see this is one of the better ones. Honestly, I’m surprised at how many of Marvel’s B characters, and even minor characters are getting films these days. Then again, there was that pretty weird Howard The Duck adaptation that came out when I was a kid. So maybe I shouldn’t be.

    • I watched all the phase one Marvel movies, but after that I have missed some big ones including Civil War. As the Marvel cinematic universe grows it becomes more likely that lesser known heroes will get their own films. Fingers crossed for Squirrel Girl! Oh, and based on your comment you should check out Guardians of the Galaxy.

  7. I thought this was a fun romp with some outstanding effects but as seems to be the trend of late, the villains were basically milquetoast props to give the hero someone to beat up. Tch! :/

  8. Ha.
    I look forward to seeing it actually.

    Well there is ALWAYS a Zen-like teacher/master in these movies.
    Batman had his karate-zen teacher. You could argue that Yoda was Luke Skywalkers zen master. Oh, and Morphieus from the Matrix to Keannue Reeves. Also that old disgusting Asian guy in “Revenge of the Nerds 2” mentored Booger.

  9. Someone go make a Goldfish Man Comic, if they haven’t already.

    I also didn’t have any issue with the Ancient One. She kicked ass as you said and was an interesting character.

    Not much to add that you haven’t other than perhaps Baron Mordo will join Loki, Ultron and Thanos in being one of the few memorable villains in the MCU outside of fans who liked Ronin, Yellowjacket and Kaecilius. I thought Kaecilius did a solid job as a Dormammu worshiper and his encounters with Strange were neat.

  10. I’ve never read a Doctor Strange comic, or seen this movie, but I still remember what his name is. Obsessive knowledge of minutiae is quite the opposite problem.

    On the other hand, it’s their superhero name that’s the most important. Clark Kent is boring, but give me Superman and he’s… still boring. Bad example.

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