Marvel Studios is back at it, with their second film release of the year, this time astral projecting itself onto the big screen in the form of the Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Strange. Written and Directed by Scott Dickerson, best known for other films such as Sinister and The Day the Earth Stood Still. Budgeted at one-hundred and sixty million, the movie’s opening weekend grossed over ninety million dollars domestically, and over the course of the next month it would go on to earn over six-hundred and fifty million dollars globally, outshining all other films in its bracket by a significant margin.
Doctor Strange, played by (Benedict Cumberbatch), is a brilliant yet volatilely arrogant surgeon, who after a serious car accident, loses the ability to use his hands; as expected this origin story follows extremely close to the comics. The film waste no time getting to the stranger things of Doctor Strange, As the initial conflict, setup to his personality, car accident and tracking down of all these various healing processes; plus, him spending the total of his money and traveling all the way to another country, to seek help from a rumor of a rumor; all of this happens within a twenty-minute time frame.
This may be a slight misstep in direction or writing, the pacing of the movie is very fast, almost jarring, not giving you a lot of time to get absorbed in the early versions of our characters, specifically our protagonist, Stephen Strange; which impacts his overall transformation he makes throughout the arc of the film’s plot, they could have spent another ten minutes fleshing out the man before the magician.Strange makes his way through the foreign city, eventually running into a man named Baron Mordo portrayed by the excellent, (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who leads him to the home of the ancient one, the mystical protector of earth known as the sorcerer supreme, played by the even more excellent (Tilda Swinton).
When Swinton was announced as the one who was going to be playing the ancient one, fans had mixed reactions some thought it was just Hollywood whitewashing the role, others believed it to be a conflict with Chinese audiences and racial tension, I see it as them picking the person that was most qualified for the role, Tilda Swinton knocked it out of the park, she was one of the most interesting characters in the movie, had a great climax to her overall story, only adding value to every scene she was in.Cumberbatch is a perfect Doctor Strange, acting is top notch as expected, he has the perfect look for the role as well, his accent is well crafted and the costume fits him like a glove’ not to mention the iconic Strange-stache is in a close race with the Stark-stache for best MCU mustache.
Kaecilius is the villain of the movie and is played by (Mads Mikkelsen), a master sorcerer who has gone rogue, killing other masters, and stealing an ancient text that will bring about the end of the world, in the form of an ancient entity Dormammu, who we will see as the big baddy at the end of the film. He and his henchmen go about doing this by destroying these “sanctums”, that the ancient one had created, in order to form a protective field of magic around the earth; if Kaecilius is success full the world will fall into eternal darkness, giving birth to a new immortal reality for Dormammu to rule over. Marvel has had problems with other villains in the past, and this one although not really escaping that trend, but Mikkelsen’s character manages to be more compelling since we get a deep insight into his motivation, something that is missing from many of the MCU villains.
Visually the movie is probably the best-looking marvel film to date, one scene in particular where the ancient one is showing Doctor Strange the depth of her power as well as the limitless amount realities that exist alongside our own, was as entertaining as it was spectacular. Throughout the movie Strange has interactions with his old flame and fellow doctor, Christine Palmer played by (Rachel McAdams), it seemed that her place in this film was relegated to love interest, not really adding anything to the overall product, only ever being relevant in one instance. One of the main themes of the film is time, and it’s cool to see it carried across the entire narrative, like when his collection of watches spin and tick independently or when Mordo warns Strange not to mess with the Eye of Agamotto, stating that bending time is extremely dangerous; the film also wraps up with a rather funny time loop scene.
Even though the movie uses time in a clever and cathartic way, in the film’s actual structure it fails to relay the passage of time in a concise way; from start to finish it was hard to tell how long things had been going on. One of the best and my personal favorite characters in the movie doesn’t have a single spoken line, Doctor Strange’s cloak of levitation, comes into the story line when the New York sanctum comes under attack, Strange does his best to fight off the attackers but is ultimately saved by the cheeky inanimate object. The movie is littered with nods to the comics and cool easter eggs if you are quick enough you can catch quite a few, one of the deeper cuts is the staff of the lignin tribunal, a character in the comics who watches over all realities and power rivals that of the one above all or God.
These little attentions to detail are what make marvel studios hero movies the most entertaining and immersing films this side of the century. As long as Marvel Studios continues to put out this quality of work, people will continue to pay to see them, Marvel manages to take abstract thoughts and concepts and turn them into an interesting and fun journey through the eyes of man who before he lost his hands didn’t even realize there was the world outside his own. The movie, all though lacking a bit in character connectivity and pacing, overall is one of the better in the MCU, it left me wanting to know more about the world of magic within the Marvel universe, Cumberbatch is a welcomed delight as one of the most powerful superheroes in this shared universe, as per usual with Marvels successful formula, they set up future stories in the post credit scenes.
At this point I think Marvel can do no wrong, leaving behind the days of subpar movies and stepping into the arena of the greats; nothing is perfect, but with each new release that Marvel give us, shows the growth that they are making as a production company. Doctor Strange gets a score of 8/10, with a fantastic cast, attempting to write a new idea we haven’t seen in the MCU yet make this movie it’s totally worth seeing on the big screen, and you don’t have to know the comics to enjoy the film, see Doctor Strange, out in theaters.