Doctor Strange - Review

Doctor Strange is the 14th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and easily the most experimental. Its Oscar-worthy visuals, believable cast, and intriguing story make this another highlight for this already amazing year in movies. 

Plot

Doctor Strange is a Marvel movie, meaning cinephiles will likely immediately look to its story for flaws. The one major flaw of the MCU has been a lackluster, repetitive story with boring villains. Doctor Strange solves one of these issues, the cookie cutter story. In the film, Strange must save the world from a powerful outside force (sound familiar?) using his newfound abilities. However, it is the ways in which Strange and his allies combat this darkness that makes the story so interesting. The film uses the source material brilliantly, using weaknesses of heroes and villains as the basis of how they fight each other, rather than just a huge battle between two super powered beings. This story really freshens up the stale Marvel template, and the film is worth seeing for this alone.

Performances

When a new Marvel film comes out, I am always nervous that the new hero won't fit in to the culture of the Avengers or the Guardians of the Galaxy. Fortunately, this is not the case with Doctor Strange, who fits like a glove into the already packed Marvel Universe. Benedict Cumberbatch plays Strange similar to how Robert Downey Jr. plays Tony Stark, which is a very good thing. While Strange very much has his own ego and past life before he acquired his powers, it is easy to see the comparison to Stark. Tilda Swinton is shrouded in mystery for most of the film as the Ancient One, but is given a tearjerking moment of vulnerability near the middle of the film, elevating her character to more than just a wise teacher, as we have seen several times in the MCU. Rachel McAdams and Chiwetel Ejiofor are mostly sidelined in favor of the main 3 characters, but Ejiofor is clearly being brought back, if you stayed to watch the second post-credits scene (yes, there are 2!). Unfortunately, it is Mads Mikkelsens's character, Kaecilius, who is the biggest let down. If you are a fan of 4outof5, you are likely aware of my obsession with Mikkelsen, due to his incredible performances in films like Casino Royale (as a villain!) and the incredible but short-lived NBC series Hannibal. I hoped he would break the pesky Marvel Studios trend of making the villain a carbon copy of the hero (Ant-Man and Iron Man 1 both have this problem), but sadly he doesn't. While his scenes are fun to watch, they ultimately do nothing to make his character memorable. 

Style

Doctor Strange, as I'm sure you may have heard, is flipping weird. It goes to some truly wacky places when Strange is first learning of the magical worlds he has been ignorant to, and that element sets Doctor Strange apart from films like Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man, both of which explored similar themes. The CGI (special effects) used are certainly Oscar worthy, which is not something anyone would usually say about a superhero movie. Inspiration is clearly pulled from Christopher Nolan's 2010 film Inception, and director Scott Derrickson has gone on record to say he was particularly inspired by the mobile game Monument Valley.

Summary

Doctor Strange is the perfect injection of fun, out of this world craziness the MCU needed this year, fresh off the heels of the game changing Captain America: Civil War. Thanks to an excellent cast, fresh story, and absolutely stunning visual effects, Doctor Strange is the best Marvel movie since Guardians of the Galaxy. 

Pros- Fresh story, effects, great use of source material

Cons-Several characters sidelined