Cinematic Releases: Doctor Strange (2016) - Reviewed

marvel movies
This evening, fans nationwide (myself included) finally got the chance to experience the highly anticipated Marvel Studios film, Doctor Strange. In a year chock full of good and bad superhero movies, fans have seen a lot. Teams of villains, fourth wall breakers, X-Men, and even hero on hero battles (twice). One would think that we've seen it all. If you thought this, you are wrong.  Doctor Strange is a trip unlike all of the other superhero films we have seen so far. 

Doctor Strange is the story of Stephen Strange, a young and arrogant surgeon who loses his ability to operate after a terrible car accident.  Desperate and suicidal, Strange turns to mysticism and learns that his true purpose is to become the Sorcerer Supreme.  Mysticism and comic book lore merge together to form a film that serves as a surreal and trippy introduction to a Marvel mainstay and builds on to the world in a way that is organic and interesting.

Visually, this is the most impressive of the MCU movies so far which fits with Stephen Strange as a character. The colors are so vibrant and alive that it will take your breath away. The battles and chases we see throughout are different from any other Marvel movie I've seen. Imagine Inception meets David Lynch.  That describes the visual tone of what this movie is going for. Scott Derrickson and his team deserve several pats on the back for knocking this out of the park. 

The cast is just wonderful. Benedict Cumberbatch proves that he was a great choice as the once successful doctor, providing the role with a sense of humor and gravitas. The vulnerability he shows in the second act gives the film a sense of humanity and allows the audience to take the journey with him.  In the same way that Robert Downey Jr has become Iron Man, I hope that audiences feel the same way about Cumberbatch as Strange. The supporting cast is great too; Tilda Swinton does solid work as the Ancient One, the one who teaches Strange in the mystical arts. Despite the controversy around her casting, Swinton manages to do a great job of playing into the mystery that is required from a mentor like her. Benedict Wong and Chiwetel Ejiofor do a great job at making their characters feel real and play well off of the arrogant Stephen Strange. Rachel McAdams is equally great as the former flame of Strange and manages to bring some dimension to a generally thankless role. Even Mads Mikkelsen gets some great moments to shine as the main villain. I wish there was more with him as he was an interesting character who never got a fulfilling backstory.

My name is Schmenedict Schnumbersnatch. Beware my flourescent green vaporizer. 

My thoughts about Mads Mikkelsen and Rachel McAdams are applicable to the whole movie. I wish that there was more of them. I wish that we had more time to explore his amazing world and characters. In the rush to establish the world and get to the action, we don’t really get to fully take in the world of Doctor Strange. I think that is a both a shame and what Marvel wanted because I want to see more.  Nearly every person in my theater couldn’t get enough of Doctor Strange.

Doctor Strange is Marvel’s most ambitious film to date, visually and subject wise. And they managed to make this into a great crowd-pleaser of a film. I hope that we get to explore more of the Sorcerer Supreme's world in the inevitable sequel. 

Share it, sorcerer of sharing. 


-Sir Liam S. O'Connor