The time has come for the Marvel Universe to dabble in magic. We’ve seen bits of it through Loki but Doctor Strange is the first MCU film to deal with it entirely as its main focus. Taking up the role as the title character is the man who is someone in virtually ALL fandoms, Benedict Cumberbatch and before I get into the plot and all that, I’ll deal directly with some of my thoughts on him.
My fan cast for Doctor Strange was Oded Fehr who you may remember from The Mummy. I adore him and I think he would’ve been perfect. I was also rooting for Colin Farrell too cause he’s got mad eyebrow game and that’s absolutely part of his mystique (SEE WHAT I DID THERE?!). I wasn’t AGAINST Cumberbatch in the role but I wasn’t really FOR it either. I was hoping to see someone a bit more… I don’t know, not him. OK OK OK, my point being is that I wasn’t super jazzed about Cumberbatch. SO, that being said, I think he did a fantastic job in the role. I suppose I should’ve figured as much since quite a bit of his personality is in line with how Sherlock acts at times. He’s proven that he can play the character of pompous ass extremely well and takes up the role in Doctor Strange beautifully. His personality never fully shifts entirely out of jerk mode in the film but his interests do and the switches subtle but well executed.
Cumberbatch and his co-star Rachel McAdams have a good chemistry together. The characters felt like they have a complicated history together so while I wasn’t rooting for things to be all dreamy between the two, what they had as actors served well for what the story called for.
I guess I should talk about the story and such, huh?
Well, I’m not going to go into that too much because this is Day One of the film being released and I think all movies are more fun if you go in with the least amount of knowledge that you can. Sometimes that’s impossible but on the rare occasion, it’s almost always rewarding.
Doctor Strange is an origin story since we haven’t seen him in the MCU so far. If you aren’t familiar with the comics, it’s pretty hard to just throw him into the mix with no explanation. He’s a dick and definitely not a particularly likeable character. That can be part of his charm if you’re into that sort of thing but understanding his motivations and his journey is definitely an integral key to the character that had to be explored.
Dr. Stephen Strange was a brilliant surgeon in his former, pre-mystic arts life. We need that part of him and get it in a small dose to kick off the movie. From there, we go all Batman Begins and his journey to becoming the Sorcerer Supreme begins. Of course, it’s not just all training montages and trippy Inception sequences… evil threatens the world and our mystic mages must save the world.
Mads Mikkelsen is fantastic, as always, as our villain. I wish we had got to actually see a bit of his backstory but the film still works well without it. You get the gist of what he’s all about.
The special effects are what you should really write home about here. We all made jokes when the trailers were released saying “Wowowowow It’s Doctor Inception!” and all that (yes I know that’s not a funny joke…) but really and truly, there is a lot of inspiration taken from a variety of Christopher Nolan films. As I mentioned, some of the origin feels very Batman Begins to me and then there are many parts of the film (as we explore the Multiverse) that feel sooooooooo very Inception-like. Buildings shifting and twisting like optical illusion illustrations. Kaleidoscope backgrounds that shift and change constantly. Mirror effects that are done exceptionally well and trip you out.
And the magic. The magic is done so well. They don’t try to make it look overly fancy and instead, it feels like they took inspiration from when you were a kid and tried to write your name and draw pictures with sparklers. The bulk of the magic has that effect to it where it feels like stuff you did as a kid for fun at a birthday party or celebration. The kind of stuff that felt like magic to you when you didn’t know any different.
The nitpick that I’ll say is this: it’s an origin story and they had a LOT to shove into that short period of time to leave room for the villains, the climax and lead ups to what comes next. However, once the film get started with all the mystic magics, it seems to accelerate quickly. There’s a bit where The Ancient One says that it will take Strange years and years to become a Master Sorcerer. It seems like MAAAAAAYBE a couple months, TOPS, and Strange has gone from not being to do ANYTHING to being able to do stuff on par with the Sorcerer Supreme.
Yeah yeah, I get it. He was born for the mystic arts and all that… but I wanted to feel like his time there was a lot lengthier and not that this entitled, egotistical jerk was given a second chance and masters something amazing almost right away.
Like I said, it’s a nitpick, but we’re allowed a couple of those and I AM acknowledging that it’s exactly that.
It’s funny, I was saying that I didn’t know if I would be able to write a review for this film or not and here I am having written a Canadian metric buttload on the thing. I guess I had some thoughts after all.
See it in theatres! See it in IMAX or 3D. The effects are really swell and I definitely would’ve appreciated them a lot more had I not been in the front row feeling like a crosseyed fool.
Doctor Strange doesn’t make my list of my favourite Marvel movies (I don’t even think it cracks Top 3) but I did enjoy it quite a bit and I think you will too, even if you’re not an established fan of the character.
I know a little of Doctor Strange from the comics and have read a few of his mini series but am far from a devoted fan. I enjoyed the film with that little knowledge. I went to the film with someone who had NO knowledge of him in the comics and he really enjoyed the film as well, so if that’s any concern at all, don’t let it be: go forth and enjoy the weird and Strange.