Marvel Studio’s Doctor Strange opened this weekend to incredible reviews.
For this writer, those opinions are well justified.
The story centers around Dr. Stephen Strange, smartly played by Benedict Cumberbatch, a neurosurgeon who loses the use of his hands after a horrific car accident. Desperate to restore the key to his career, he eventually makes his way to Nepal, becoming a student of Eastern philosophy under the tutelage of The Ancient One, played by Tilda Swinton.
From there, his life changes forever when his studies take him into the multiverse of magic, forcing him to choose between his past, and bearing the burden of protecting the world from supernatural threats.
Even though the visual quality of the film is top-notch in its psychedelic computer-generated imagery, that alone cannot always save a film. The story is made all the more interesting since it is Marvel Studio’s first foray into the world of magic (outside of Scarlet Witch’s undefined abilities seen in The Avengers: Age of Ultron.)
Similar to Guardians of the Galaxy, the narrative leads to an obvious sequel, but doesn’t feel forced. It is pleasant to have a self-contained story not being an obvious build-up to the climax of Marvel’s Phase 3, Infinity War.
The Marvel Cinematic (now Multi-)verse is commonly criticized for its weak villains. The main villain here, played by Mads Mikkelsen, is hardly memorable, but has a menacing onscreen presence. His motive, misguided and destructive, is ultimately altruistic, a change from past villains seen in otherwise great movies like Iron Man and Captain America: Civil War.
Also unusual for Marvel films is the relationship between the protagonist and his love interest. Their interactions are complicated, due to his egotistical demeanor, as well as the anger he expresses towards her early on. It’s refreshing that a woman is not the end goal for the hero, but instead, a person that can be leaned on for support.
The ending, while clever in it’s own right, is a bit flat. The climax feels rushed and underdeveloped, despite the fantastic events going on around the characters. Most of the hand-to-hand fight sequences, a trademark of comic book-based conflicts, don’t feel as exciting as the visual splendor seen throughout.
Many qualms with the narrative’s logic can be found throughout the story, but they don’t detract from the fun that is to be had. The humor doesn’t always have a strong punch, but there are more than enough laugh-inducing lines to make up for those shortcomings.
All said, this movie is well worth the full price of admission, making its audience eager for more stories of the Sorcerer Supreme. Is it the best? If it isn’t, it certainly is incredibly close, thanks to its unique approach and fun narrative.
“Doctor Strange” opened last Friday, and is 1 hour, 55 minutes long, rated PG-13 in the US. Local showtimes and tickets are available here.
Have you seen it yet? What did you think? As always, let us know in the comments below.