Doctor Strange Review
By Zain Hashmat
Marvel seems to step up its game each year. Not only has the mega-successful studio churned out fantastic sequels to well known, established heroes, but it has also given a chance to lesser known heroes in films such as Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant Man. Both were fantastic and hugely successful. So how does the latest addition, Doctor Strange, fit into the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Almost like a glove.
Casting Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange couldn’t have been more perfect. Cumberbatch’s suave style meshed flawlessly with the selfish character. Strange, a successful surgeon, is so full of himself that no one can stand talking to him for more than 5 minutes (reminds me of another Marvel character...). But when he loses the use of his hands in a car wreck, he sees his entire career fall apart. Strange seeks help from a previous patient, and their conversation leads him to Nepal where he begins training with The Ancient One, played by Tilda Swinton. He learns how to gain powers that can bend time, take him to different dimensions, and change landscapes of the Earth. Benedict Cumberbatch’s transformation into Doctor Strange really struck me; it was like he was ripped right out of the comics. Not only is Cumberbatch great, but there are also excellent supporting turns from Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen, and Elizabeth Banks.
Doctor Strange is arguably the most visually appealing movie Marvel has ever made. Cities are being turned upside down, the ground is shifting in marvelous ways, and Strange is jumping between fantastical and colorful dimensions. I was completely enthralled by this creative world. However, while director Scott Derrickson puts all of his energy into making a visually astounding film, he lacks in actually telling an astounding story.
The pacing of Doctor Strange is messy. The film lost me at several moments due to the abrupt time changes and plot developments. For example, Doctor Strange’s training lasts about 10 minutes in the film, but there are no visual hints or dialogue to help one understand how long his training actually takes or what he learns throughout that training. I was completely perplexed at how easily and quickly Strange seems to gain and control his powers.
Not only is Strange’s training extremely fast-paced, but the story arch against the main villain is also so rushed that it seems like an afterthought. The climactic battle between Strange and the main villain (I won’t disclose his name due to spoilers) is a disappointment. Many of the character motivations and actions in the film lack any real drama. Strange escapes situations and fights with ease, making the film less engaging due to the lack of dramatic conflict. Doctor Strange also tries a bit too hard with its comedy. While Marvel is known for the insertion of lighthearted humor into its films, it doesn’t always work. Witty one liners and gags feel forced, not really fitting well into the scenes. The poor comedy and clunky dialogue downgraded the film a bit.
7/10- Benedict Cumberbatch shines as Strange in this visually exciting, yet poorly paced addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.