REVIEW: Marvel Delivers Visually Stunning Picture With ‘Doctor Strange’

Marvel Studios took a break from some Avengers drama and instead offered up some magical fun in their latest picture.

As one would guess, “Doctor Strange” follows the story of the titular character played by Benedict Cumberbatch. Dr. Stephen Strange is a confident, cocky and at times egotistical medical expert whose life is just about perfect. However, that changes when he gets in a terrible car accident that wipes out the use of his hands.

Now a shell of his former self, Strange seeks out ways to recover and in doing so, learns about a mystical art that can help him regain his strength. By following that path, though, Strange finds himself caught in a struggle he couldn’t have imagined.

If you’ve seen other Marvel movies, namely the first “Iron Man” from 2008, “Doctor Strange” should feel like really familiar territory. Similar to movies in the MCU that have come before it, “Doctor Strange” sticks to a rather familiar formula, and while this blueprint makes for an adequate one, it doesn’t raise the bar much.

On top of feeling a bit too similar to other Marvel films, the picture’s pacing is a bit fast also. There is a lot that happens in the first act alone and that trend continues through much of the flick. To put it simply, “Doctor Strange” does have a feeling that it’s being rushed along.

Despite those two shortcomings, though, “Strange” is still a solid experience at the cinema. While the movie does feel a bit rushed and too similar to other comic book adaptation, the story still holds up well. It lacks plot holes, remains coherent and in the end takes the protagonist on a life-changing adventure.

Speaking of the protagonist, there’s no doubt that Cumberbatch was the perfect person to play Strange the way filmmakers wanted. He played the role with an interesting level of arrogance, where he wasn’t necessarily being selfish but rather was simply obsessed with pushing himself to do better. Cumberbatch really nails this part of the role, but what’s most memorable is how he interacts with the mystical side of the part.

Cumberbatch finds the right balance as his character begins to learn about magic, as Strange is shown to be both fascinated by what the powers can do yet always maintains a level of skepticism, as if he’s always unconvinced at how deep the rabbit hole can go.

Acting opposite of Cumberbatch was Tilda Swinton, who played his mentor and trainer The Ancient One. Swinton was perfect as the soft-spoken, wise sage who begins to change Strange’s view on life as the movie goes on. There’s a lot of grace and majesty in the performance, yet Swinton makes sure that despite all her character’s powers, the Ancient One remains humble.

The supporting cast was strong in this one. Chiwetel Ejiofor, known for his work in “12 Years a Slave,” was on point here, playing Mordo, a more adept magic user who wants to help Strange but also notices that the doctor has a lot to learn. Also providing solid work was Rachel McAdams, who was sincere as Strange’s former girlfriend, yet she knew how to have some fun with the part also.

However, like with most Marvel films, the villain was a little bit iffy. Mads Mikkelsen did give the lead bad guy a menacing demeanor for most of the picture, yet he seemed a bit generic at points. At the very least, though, the character did have some good motivation and it involved taking orders from a greater evil being.

Without spoiling too much, that evil being who appears in the third act, ends up in a great battle with Strange and its one of the better, more well thought out climaxes to a Marvel movie in a while.

On that note, it’s also important to talk about the visuals in this picture. For 2016, “Doctor Strange” is arguably the year’s best movie when it comes to a visual standpoint. There are amazing action sequences, filled with mind bending usages of CGI and rather elegant choreography because of the characters’ usage of mystic martial arts. More or less, “Doctor Strange” is perfect eye candy.

“Doctor Strange” isn’t without its faults and I wouldn’t put it on the same level as some other Marvel greats such as “Captain America: Winter Soldier” or “Guardians of the Galaxy.” However, the movie features compelling and at times humorous dialogue, spot on performances and stunning imagery for a mostly memorable experience. High 3 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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