| A former neurosurgeon embarks on a journey of healing only to be drawn into the world of the mystic arts.
Doctor Strange has been one of the most enduring and interesting Marvel Characters for the past fifty years, taking part in almost every crossover story line in a key role. Marvel here had the gargantuan task of condensing the iconic origin story and paying homage to the fifty years of lore in a single feature. Whilst the film doesn’t quite manage to establish its world both singularly and as a part of the MCU, Marvel has yet delivered another flick full of fun.
Whilst it could have been cool to see a little more of the horror sensibilities, Scott Derrickson did a great job in bringing this tale to life. The casting first and foremost is pitch perfect. Mads Mikkelsen might not be given lots to do (that being due to story problems), but Cumberbatch (even though I have some trouble to see him play something different than Sherlock Holmes) shines high and owns the role from the first to the last frame, his addition to this universe is more than welcome. Yet, the stand out here is clearly Tilda Swinton as the ancient one: this is ideal casting and the way Swinton brings the role to life is magical, she gives a touching performance with a real edge to it, that surprised me as much as I appreciated it: every second with her on screen was gold. Chiwitel Ejiofor and Rachel McAdams were serviceable as the main supporting roles. Benedict Wong also had great comedic relief when needed. The big question in any Marvel movie recently, is if the villain will be a memorable one.
The strongest parts of the film for me were the action and the visual effects. The action is certainly some of the best in the MCU and in all of Marvel’s films. They make great use of the abilities of the characters. The VFX are absolutely off-tap, this is like Inception meets The Matrix on absolute roids. M.C. Escher would have been proud. Scott Derrickson and Co. really took it to another level. The fantastic opening scene and use of visual effects will certainly give you a taste of what is to come in the future of VFX.
“You think you know how the world works. You think this material universe is all there is. What if I told you the reality you know is one of many?”
The film has quite a number of flaws and whilst as the movie went on, I was never taken out of the flow or the excitement, but it gets frustrating to see and feel that this could have been a much better film. Sloppy pacing, anticlimactic finale, weak villain and poor logic are all problems the film has and I believe that they can all be traced back to one single problem core flaw: mythology. There is just too murky of a world building going on, the mythology does not manage to establish itself to the audience in a rational and logical way and you are left with more questions than answers. I am the first one to say than not everything needs to be explained, what film needs is simply a rational understanding of the inner workings of the world and you are never given that. Not even with my comic book knowledge I managed to understand how all of this fitted. There are many expositions scenes and I love an exposition scene when it is done good: when the character wants to discover as much as the audience, yet the filmmakers commit a mistake in using these scenes just to spit out a train of information, without organizing it and without giving an overall sense to the world.
As I said before, it has a very weak villain. Mads Mikkelsen has nothing to do here and the script’s villain is generic and totally forgettable overall. He isn’t that convincing to be even called an antagonist, and they mention his atrocities several times, but we don’t actually see them. They could have done that much better and go into it more deeper. But that is a common issue in the MCU. Not much depth added to villains, to make them less scary, to make them watchable to everyone.
Pixar’s regular composer, Michael Giacchino does an interesting and broad score to reflect the vast weirdness of the movie using an array of instruments such as chimes, bells, harpsichords and a choir; no two tracks are the same with some baroque and even some backmasking which is quite spooky and mysterious.
Overall visually mind-blowing and a good addition to the MCU. I’m looking forward to seeing how everything comes together. It isn’t the best, but different it definitely is. Be sure to stay right till the very end for the usual couple of linkages.
Marvel’s ‘Doctor Strange’ gets a 7.2/10.
Shot on 35's rating sheet: 9.5 – 10.0: Excellent! 8.5 – 9.5: Fantastic, but with minor flaws 7.5 – 8.5: Great, but with issues 6.5 – 7.5: Okay, but with major issues 5.5 – 6.5: Had potential, but falls flat hard. 4.5 – 5.5: Disaster!