The Mystic Arts take over theaters November 4th! The next highly anticipated Marvel Cinematic Universe superhero origin story is DOCTOR STRANGE. The film is visually spectacular, but can a Marvel film hang its hat (or cape) on the look alone? Continue reading for our full DOCTOR STRANGE review.
DOCTOR STRANGE is the origin story of Dr. Stephen Strange, a brilliant but arrogant surgeon. After a bad car accident which mangles his hands and ends his career, the doctor embarks on a journey in hopes to find what he needs to restore his hands and his life. However, he finds the unexpected in the Sorcerer Supreme which leads to him becoming a mystic superhero.
Essentially, the common man answers his call to action and becomes extraordinary. Does this sound familiar? Luke Skywalker, Spider-Man, the list goes on. It’s the journey that counts, and DOCTOR STRANGE is definitely an enjoyable film to watch, especially in IMAX 3D. But after such spectacular Marvel offerings as CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, CAPTAIN AMERICA: WINTER SOLDIER and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, does the Master of the Mystic Arts live up to these tentpole films?
The answer is, not quite. However, it’s a little like walking into an ice cream shop and choosing your least favorite ice cream. It’s not your favorite, but it’s not bad either. It’s ice cream, for heaven’s sake! That’s exactly what DOCTOR STRANGE is in the MCU. It’s not the best Marvel film, but it’s still good.
For one thing, the acting is superb. The cast alone is worth the trip. Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Stephen Strange) is perfect casting. Not only does he look the part of the original 1963 Steve Ditko / Stan Lee comic, but he has the arrogant intelligence down. And who doesn’t love a levitating cape?
Mads Mikkelsen plays the baddie, Kaecilius. We will soon see him in ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY as Galen Urso. I hope he portrays Urso in a similar fashion to Kaecilius – as someone who believes utterly in what he is doing.
Tilda Swinton has quite the role as The Ancient One. She flies all over the place, performing mystic spells with her hands. Her character is riveting, as is her look.
Beyond the acting, there is this incredible mystic world. From harnessing energy to exploring these mystic realms, everything looks amazing. THIS is why 3D was invented. It’s hard to describe how cool DOCTOR STRANGE looks, and I intend to see this film again in IMAX 3D. Scott Derrickson (Director) really pushed the boundaries of CGI to create the incredible imagery we see. All of it is grounded in the original Steve Ditko art of the 1960’s Doctor Strange comic series.
In keeping with Marvel movies, there’s quite a bit of humor intertwined within the fabric of the film. We would expect nothing less at this point. The humor is not only in the dialogue, but with actual objects as well. I won’t spoil it here.
Now, on to a few negatives. Stephen Strange is not as likable as some of our other heroes. Black Widow kicks butt and takes names with no super powers. Steve Rogers is the lovable good guy. Tony Stark is the lovable bad boy. Peter Quill is the lovable smart ass with awesome sidekicks. Thor is pretty. Stephen Strange, however, is almost too arrogant for the room, and we don’t get to see him in a vulnerable, likable state for long in this film. Therefore, I wasn’t as emotionally invested in the characters as I was for, say, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. Even though that movie was set in space and not on earth, I really was worried for Nova Core and terrified of Ronan. For DOCTOR STRANGE, Because I am not a master of the Mystic Arts myself, I wasn’t as worried for earth being taken over by an inhabitant of the Mystic Realm. This premise, however, is promising for future stories in the MCU, as all these realms eventually collide.
My final gripe with the film is that it is confusing. There are several names being thrown around, and if you don’t connect who’s who right away and have no knowledge of the comic before-hand, you may be a little lost. So I’ve gathered together a Name Primer to help you on your cinematic journey.
The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) – she becomes Strange’s teacher in the mystical arts
Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) – right hand to The Ancient One and Doctor Strange’s battle buddy
Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) – A one-time student of The Ancient One’s who broke off to form his own sect. The villain who does the wrong thing for the right reason
Dormammu – The main villain and demonic being that lies in an alternate dimension without time.
Eye of Aggamoto – not a person. A powerful talisman that can harness time.
I hope that helps when you go see DOCTOR STRANGE. For all the gripes, it is still a good movie that is best enjoyed in 3D with a fun crowd.
For those who want a little behind-the-scenes knowledge from the cast and crew before seeing the film, head over to our special Press Conference coverage. There are quite a few fun stories that will prepare you for the movie. DOCTOR STRANGE opens nationwide on November 4th. I’m going to be first in line to see this in IMAX 3D.