It has been a while since I posted a review, but I made sure to see this as soon as possible so I could write up a semi-early review. Marvel has been on a hot streak lately with their films and television shows. There have been some good superhero films this year and some pretty mediocre superhero films, but Marvel ends the year on a fairly high note with Doctor Strange.
You’re a man looking at the world through a keyhole
Right off the bat I need to talk about the visuals. This is such a beautiful film to watch. Not only is the cinematography quite crisp, but the special effects and unique visuals elevate this film to great new heights. There are some aspects that may feel like Inception, but it offers (visually) so much more than Inception could. The fight scenes that incorporate this mind bending reality are truly stunning. Congratulations to everyone involved with the visual effects, they really did a phenomenal job and deserve some Oscar recognition. I do have a small complaint for the visuals, occasionally there is too much going on. I found it hard to follow the action, but it never become a problem where the film was unwatchable. The next strongest aspect of the film is the cast. This is probably the best cast Marvel has ever had in any one of their films. Every single actor does a fantastic job, but of course there are several standouts. Starting off with Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange: He is the perfect man for the job. There is certainly a great deal of arrogance about him, but Cumberbatch is able to balance the arrogance with humor and wit.
Not only that, but there are several scenes where I felt emotional due to Cumberbatch’s strong performance. Alongside Cumberbatch is Chiwetel Ejiofor who delivers a stellar performance as Mordo. Ejiofor and Cumberbatch have a great back and forth. Like Cumberbatch, he is able to balance the lighter moments with the serious moments of the film remarkably well. Tilda Swinton plays The Ancient One and she was an absolute delight to behold on screen. In fact, my favorite scene in the whole film is a quieter scene between her and Cumberbatch. The two of them have a brilliant exchange that resonated with me due to their exceptional acting abilities. The writing and plot are also fairly solid. I do have some issues with them (more on that later) but for the most part it was kept simple enough to engross audiences in this strange new world. One of the biggest compliments I could give the film is that from start to finish it was a lot of fun. I was thoroughly entertained and am much more excited to see Doctor Strange in future Marvel properties. Quick shoutout to The Cloak of Levitation. It was another standout in the film.
Forget everything that you think you know
One of the biggest issues I have with Marvel films is the fact that they never devote enough time into fleshing out their villains. The great Mads Mikkelsen plays Kaecilius who unfortunately is yet another underdeveloped villain. He is better than most Marvel villains, but he needed some more screen time to be properly fleshed out. He did have several funny moments though. Rachel McAdams was fine in her role, but there just was not much to her. I think her relationship with Strange, while sweet, needed some more development. I really enjoyed Benedict Wong as Wong (Go Figure) but he did something at the end of the film that totally did not work for me. Not the action of what he did, but how he did it.
You will know what I am talking about when you see the film. This ties into my next point: The humor here is very hit or miss. There are plenty of hits, but also many misses. Most Marvel films have been quite funny up until this point so I do not understand why this one had such a struggle with the humor. Perhaps it is a film that did not need much humor, but the filmmakers added it in a little too late. Finally, in regards to the plot and writing: there are several moments that annoyed me. For example, there is a cliché scene where someone says “you did not help me in the past, why should I help you?” or something along those lines. There are not too many moments like this, but enough where it became noticeable. One final point about the film: at times it felt a bit rushed. There is a training montage that should go on for a little bit longer. This is odd because certain parts of the film are perfectly paced while others are indeed rushed. It does not happen too often, but I would not have minded a slightly longer run time to flesh out those scenes.
Is this Marvel’s best film? No. Is it its’ worst? No. This is a good Marvel film that is really elevated through the beautiful visuals and masterful acting. It does have some flaws, but as far as an origin film goes it is quite good. I am excited to see where the future films take the character of Doctor Strange and his rise to his full potential as The Sorcerer Supreme.