Movie Review: Doctor Strange (2016)

The fourteenth entry into the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe, Doctor Strange is a 2016 superhero film based on the mystical comic book character of the same name. Benedict Cumberbatch is Stephen Strange, a former neurosurgeon who learns of the existence of magic from The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), and begins his journey towards becoming a powerful sorcerer. Chiwetel Ejiofor also stars as Strange’s ally and another sorcerer Karl Mordo, and Rachel McAdams is Christine Palmer, a fellow surgeon of Strange while Mads Mikkelsen (a personal favourite actor of mine) is the main atagonist, fallen sorcerer brother, Kaecilius.

+ Strange’s various allies, The Ancient One (Swinton), Mordo (Ejiofor) and Wong (Benedict Wong) were given larger roles than most other MCU outings. Mordo (as a build for future movies, for anyone who knows the comic book charcter) gets probably the most screen-time outside of Strange himself. Wong gets the major punchline for the film, and Swinton fulfills the role of ‘mystical teacher’ perfectly
+ Kaecilius (Mikkelsen) was probably one of the better Marvel villains thus far, but even still played second fiddle to the idea of an even larger villain (realised, or simply theoretical). As someone still pining for more Hannibal, it pains me to admit that I still sometimes find his accent hard to comprehend
+ the film looks absolutely (at times insanely) gorgeous. The Inception-style building bending, combined with the various spark-creating spells make for a visual feast

– even after reading the casting, watching the trailers and now seeing the movie, I am still not sold on Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange. His performance in this movie was solid enough, and he provided much of the humour simply due to his arrogance, but I never bought into him as the titular character. Maybe he just needs a few more movies to convince me, but I didn’t feel like he was Doctor Strange the way I felt RDJ was Iron Man
– McAdam as Christine Palmer was entirely wasted. Half love interest, half Night-Nurse (no relation to Rosario Dawson’s Netflix character), she is relegated to scenes you could count on one hand, and scenes of importance you could count on one finger
– the story is really takit-or-leave-it. Very little happens naturally, and rather is seemingly only happening because it has to, ie. the bad guys COULD attack one place, but instead they go somewhere else and the good guys just happen to know this because of reasons. I guess this could all boil down to some sort of magical precognition, but if that’s never mentioned then I can’t believe it

> overall, I felt this was one of the more isolated entries into the MCU. A few quick references to the previous films were enough to keep the link there, but overall this is probably the best (equal with Ant-Man) to not require all the previous viewing

Should you see this film: It pains me to say it, but this is probably the first first-off Marvel movie you could skip and not miss much. Fans of the comic character will get more out of it than others, as will Cumberbatch’s (ravenous) legion of fans, but I don’t think Marvel could get more middle of the road than this one.

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