Review: Doctor Strange (2016) – Mighty Mystical Magic Makes For A Winning Combination

Very mild spoilers follow.

Casting a spell over cinemas this weekend is Marvel’s Doctor Strange; a film that not only has the distinction of being their 14th theatrical release, but also the first to delve into the previously unexplored world of magic.

Benedict Cumberbatch plays the titular Doctor, an egotistical world renowned surgeon with such magical hands that, if he was blonde, would most likely be running for President right now.

Alas, an unforeseen car accident (Don’t text and drive kids!) drastically changes Strange’s life path. Refusing to accept his predicament, he instead travels East to Nepal in the pursuit of a solution, but instead discovers something far more magical.

Cumberbatch is excellently cast, bringing shades of arrogance from his Sherlock portrayal, but also manages to believably show his gradual transformation into the far more sympathetic Sorcerer Supreme.

He’s ably supported by Chiwetel Ejiofor and Tilda Swinton in the roles of Karl Monto and The Ancient One respectively. Essentially playing the straight man to Strange, Ejiofor helps being a sense of realism by grounding the film whenever it gets especially magical.

Swinton is also excellent as the long lived mentor of Strange, bringing plenty of pathos to certain scenes. Much as been made of the super white Swinton playing a role that was originally Asian, but the film is so multi-cultural that this aspect is not really noticeable.

It’s also through The Ancient One that the film achieves its best action sequences. It is these scenes that help elevate Doctor Strange above the usual superhero dross. Imagine watching Inception while on acid and that’s still not enough to describe how psychedelic these spectacles can get.

Rachel McAdams and Mads Mikkelsen are perfectly adequate in their roles as the love interest and the villain. (I’ll let you guess which is which.) To be fair, I wasn’t expecting much from either characters since Marvel have always had problems developing interesting characters in these aforementioned categories.

Amazingly the best character in this film isn’t even human! That honour goes to the Cloak of Levitation which perfectly evokes the same feelings of fun and joy I experienced when watching the character of “Carpet” in Disney’s Aladdin.

I did however, have a small problem with Benedict Wong’s character of Wong. It is glaring obvious that his character was added as an afterthought in an attempt to placate the numerous criticisms of white-washing. There is nothing his character does or says that couldn’t be done by Ejiofor’s character.

I also want to send out special get well vibes to Michael Giacchino! Doctor Strange’s soundtrack is incredibly similar to 2009’s Star Trek and it’s clear that Giacchino must have been under incredible pressures to deliver to soundtrack on time. Thus it seems he’s more or less copied his own work from 7 years ago. So wherever you are Michael… Take a break!

Regardless of the above mentioned flaws, Doctor Strange is still a decent addition to the Marvel pantheon and an enjoyable Friday night out. It may not hit the high standards set by previous Marvel films, but it never comes close to descending to the level of the recent DC movie universe.

Overall Score:


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