Review: "Doctor Strange" is a welcome addition to the future of Marvel
An extremely successful yet arrogant, self-obsessed neurosurgeon, Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), experiences a devastating car crash – crippling his hands beyond repair. After exhausting much time and all of his resources attempting to salvage his precious hands, he travels to Nepal in a last ditch effort . Instead of restoring his hands, he finds a whole new world with the help of the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton).
Despite a strong supporting cast of Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams and Mads Mikkelsen, Doctor Strange is ultimately Benedict Cumberbatch’s film. It would be nice to see the previously stated actors, specifically Mikkelsen as the formidable Kaecilius, in more fleshed out roles. That said, he is another faulty villain, which has become a recurring trend in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). A vastly interesting backstory is told about Kaecilius but not shown, an integral error to preventing his character from becoming memorable. The same cannot be said for Stephen Strange, however, as he is given room to work and adapt while Cumberbatch delivers a fantastic performance one would only expect.
Almost shamelessly, the film follows the typical Marvel formula for origin stories, which is not always a bad thing, but variation would benefit the film. Major plot beats are repeated in the same vein as Iron Man, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, etc. Thankfully, there are major differences. Their differences are mostly from way of (literally) earth-shattering visual effects and psychedelic trips, to different planes of existence, all the way to building bending reminiscent of Inception. While effects should not hold standard over storytelling, you can clearly see the amount of work that was put into perfecting the experience presented to the audience.
Director Scott Derrickson gets it right and remains consistent with the typical MCU palette of quick comedy and easy-to-swallow levity. It never gets too heavy without a sharp reminder to take the story lightly. Thematically, there is not much to find as it isn’t exactly going for Oscar gold. Instead, Derrickson leads the film towards more of an enjoyable experience from awe-inducing effects and a pleasurable story to carry the story forward.
Most importantly, Doctor Strange introduces a new hero to the MCU that is more than likely here to stay for the foreseeable future. While the film itself may not live up to Marvel’s ridiculously high standards, it does its job well enough to vindicate greenlighting the character for further solo projects and, possibly, a starting spot on the Avengers team.
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