Directed by: Scott Derrickson
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams
Doctor Strange is a real treat. It follows closely in the footsteps of Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man in the tradition of taking a lesser known, more strange (forgive the pun) property and transforming it into a super fun time, with great creativity, meanwhile not taking itself too seriously. The action scenes are wildly creative and there are some great performances. I highly recommend it, not only to marvel fans, but all moviegoers. I had a big grin on my face very often while watching.
I’m going to go a little more in depth than usual on this one. I won’t be spoiling the story, but beware reading on if you want to go in with a clean slate for some of the specifics.
The world-bending action scenes seen in the trailers are more than a gimmick, they allow for some of the most breathtaking and exciting action scenes I can think of. The fight choreography, the planning around the shifting environments, the camerawork, all brilliant. I never ever got tired of them. I want more.
The tone was perfect for this kind of story; silly enough to get us to buy the whole sorcery thing, and serious enough to make it look really really cool. This tone is embodied fantastically by the smart-ass, egotistical performance by Cumberbatch. He was great. He was funny, compelling and relatable (as a fellow smart-ass myself). He also pulled off the accent well, which I was a little dubious of at first.
The Ancient One played by Tilda Swinton was amazing. I recall initial backlash that the character would not be played by a Tibetan actor, which I feel is a much more complicated issue, but honestly, after seeing it: no complaints here. Cool, intriguing, bad-ass and complex, I loved every second of screen-time she had. She also hosts probably my favourite scene of the movie, where she shows Steven Strange the world of magic. The entire sequence plays like the most fully realised and intense acid-trip ever put to screen. My jaw literally dropped for the entire scene.
Unfortunately, the film did have it’s share of weaknesses, and unfortunately they were all about what you would expect of a modern Marvel movie. The story was sub-par for me. Despite my usual distaste for origin stories, it was necessary here, as we needed to be introduced to this world step by step along with the protagonist. That said, it was fairly predictable and employed too many storytelling cliches.
Also, like most Marvel movies, the villain was weak. We never really got a great opportunity to know, despise or even potentially sympathise with him. He’s basically Ronan from Guardians again. A shame. There’s also a romantic sub-plot, like in most solo Marvel movies, and it was completely unnecessary and uninteresting. I believe her character could have been genuinely more interesting had she not been the romantic lead. In fact, most of the supporting cast was poorly utilised, despite strong performances.
Despite its weaknesses though, Doctor Strange is so good. I’m obviously very excited about it, and I think you should go see it. In my top 5 Marvel movies for sure.