“Forget everything that you think you know.”
That was the advice that was given to Dr. Stephen Strange by Baron Karl Mordo midway through “Doctor Strange” and that is the perfect statement to describe this movie.
Forget everything that you think you know because this is not the stereotypical superhero movie or, Marvel movie, for that matter. “Doctor Strange” is easily one of Marvel’s best films to date and it really is not even close.
The movie focuses around Dr. Stephen Strange, an arrogant but highly accomplished neurosurgeon who is involved in a horrific car accident that renders his hands virtually useless. After he is unable to find a cure or way to strengthen them physically, he travels to the Kamar-Taj to find “The Ancient One”, after learning about her from a man who was able to walk again after a paralyzing accident. Once there, Strange discovers that the world is not as straightforward as it seems and there are whole other dimensions of it that are filled with both good and dangerous magic.
Scott Derrickson, whose most recent successful movie was “Sinister”, directed the film. I’ll admit, I was a little apprehensive of Marvel’s selection of him as the director due to the films he’s made in the past (“Deliver Us From Evil”) but I could not have been more wrong.
Derrickson absolutely nailed this movie. There was not a single aspect that he did not go above and beyond on: The camera angles were perfect, the action sequences were fast, intense, and believable, but most importantly, the story was extremely well written
There was not a moment of downtime in this entire film. From start to finish, there is always something happening that put the audience on the edge of their seat or challenges them to think outside the box, literally.
Visually, “Doctor Strange” is astounding. Taking elements from “Inception” but on a much larger and detailed scale, Derrickson was able to contort and twist the cities we know to make us believe in the magic the characters perform. Every time a building rotated 90 degrees or a hallway was elongated, my mouth hit the floor because it looked that great.
The action sequences were spot-on and the editing was done perfectly. There were never any moments where one could tell that filming stopped only to start up again; it was seamless. Some of the hand-to-hand combat scenes were a tad iffy in comparison to all of the magic and sorcery battles but they still were impressive.
Another positive of the film was the casting. Benedict Cumberbatch was nothing short of phenomenal in his portrayal of Dr. Stephen Strange. Being the most talented actor to be brought into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he did have quite a bit of pressure on him to perform well and he did just that. He was arrogant, intelligent, humorous, and 20 other adjectives. He absolutely crushed it.
Rachel McAdams turned in a solid performance as Christine Palmer, Strange’s love interest and it will be interesting to see where her character goes moving forward. Mads Mikkelsen, who played the villain of the film, Kaecilius, did a tremendous job for what he was given.
To me though, the performance of the movie went to Benedict Wong who played a master known as Wong (clever right?). The amount of humor that he generated was fantastic and never felt forced.
Humor is another element that makes “Doctor Strange” so great. Often times, Marvel has attempted to force humor into their films to make them less serious but it ended up taking the audience out of the moment with a poorly time joked. That was not the case in this movie. The comedic lines and actions performed by the characters never felt out of place or unnecessary; they only added to the film.
The only complaint I have with this movie is the lack of character depth that was given to the villain, Kaecilius. The writers attempted to make the audience care about him by providing a brief history of who he is spread throughout the film but it never really made him feel important or all-too threatening. This has become a common issue with Marvel movies and it will be interesting to see whether they work it out in the future.
All in all though, “Doctor Strange” is a visually stunning, exhilarating, and psychedelic movie that has tremendous acting performances and a well-written, humorous script that makes it one of Marvel’s best films to date.
Rating: 9.25 out of 10