Director: Scott Derrickson
Writers: Jon Spaihts & Scott Derrickson
Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Tilda Swinton, Benedict Wong, Mads Mikkelsen
Anyone who knows me or has read a single sentence on this site knows that I dig me some superheroes. You can just assume that I was awaiting the release of Doctor Strange with the patience of a five-year-old staring at his Christmas presents under the tree on December 24th…salivating openly while writhing in my chair.
Why? First, it’s a Marvel movie – there’s a guarantee of quality there. Even their not-so-great movies (Thor 1&2, Ant-Man, Iron Man 2, Etc.) are still thoroughly re-watchable. Second, it’s Doctor Strange – Marvel can really embrace the weird with this one. Third, dat cast, tho…
So, did Marvel knock another on out of the park? Did they fix their problem with two-dimensional villains? Did Benedict Cumberbatch charm the pants off of literally everything?
Yes and no. Let’s get into it…
This is by far the most visually impressive Marvel movie to date. I highly recommend seeing it in 3D IMAX. This is new for me - I generally hate the 3D format, as it feels largely shoehorned into a movie as an afterthought in most cases (the only movies I recommended seeing in 3D before are Avatar and Guardians of the Galaxy). Thankfully, Scott Derrickson and the Marvel FX crew really tailored the movie to the format – to the extent that the 3D visual experience is so good that you forgive a lot of the movie’s shortcomings.
Secondly, the cast is outstanding, as expected – especially, Cumberbatch & Swinton. Benedict, who was my dream choice far before he was cast, shows why he has such a rabid fan-base (the self-named “Cumberbitches”). He was literally custom made for this part, and it shows. His performance elevates the movie beyond what’s written on the page and I can’t wait to see his pop up in future MCU installments.
Sadly, Marvel has not completely fixed their villain problem. While, Mads Mikkelsen gives it his all, but his character, Kaecilius, feels pretty underdeveloped outside of his immediate motivations. That’s even considering that he is one of two villains that have lines in this movie. The rest must have apparently had their tongues cut out, as all they do is brood.
The good news is that they’re teeing up the next villain (I will avoid going into detail for spoilers sake) by fleshing out his character in this movie, much like they did with Loki in Thor before he went full-on villain in The Avengers.
Then there’s the Rachel McAdams problem. I found myself asking what exactly her character and an actor of her caliber is there for. She’s probably the least developed love interest character in all of Marvel’s movies (Even though I'll take her over Natalie Portman in Thor any day). It seems she’s there mostly to just react with confusion and awe to Strange’s magic. Other than that, there’s a nod to a past relationship, but you really don’t feel like she had any current feelings towards Strange other than “ZOINKS! MAGIC!”
Lastly, as you’ve likely heard, Doctor Strange doesn’t do much to break the mold of the standard Marvel origin story. It takes the same story that’s worked since Iron Man and applied it to the next character in line – improving some points and worsening others.
In the end, Doctor Strange plays more like a great pilot episode of a TV series than a singular movie. It’s a bit incomplete and doesn’t hit all of the points you wanted to see in a Doctor Strange movie, but the points it does hit are extremely entertaining – making you hungry for more.
I’d say, even with its flaws, Doctor Strange still ranks towards the mid-to-upper range of the MCU on the back of Cumberbatch and his supporting cast, as well as the outstanding visual storytelling.
Current Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%
Current IMDB Score: 8.0 out of 10
My Score: 8.5 out of 10(SEE IT IN 3D, DAMMIT!)