Doctor Strange Review (Spoiler Free!)

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Alright folks, we’ve been talking a lot of trailers lately, so I think it’s about time we talked about an actual movie. Luckily for us we had a new one open this weekend that I had a chance to check out. So let’s get right to it! We’re keeping things spoiler-free here, so read on without fear. I will also be writing a spoiler-heavy review elsewhere and I’ll leave a link for anyone who wants to read that as well once it’s live.

So this movie is a bit of a first for Marvel, in this is the first time we get real, honest-to-goodness magic. In previous films, like Thor, magic always had a technological aspect to it, but here we get true mysticism. And it’s a great change of pace from what we’re used to seeing, because we’ve never seen anything like this. But more on that later.

For all the differences, Marvel does continue a trend that is found throughout their films: excellent casting. Benedict Cumberbatch nails it as Dr. Stephen Strange. We all knew that he absolutely looked the part, but he’s got the personality (pre- and post-accident) down to a tee. He also has great interactions with the rest of the cast, in both serious and humorous moments. The rest of the cast did very well in their roles too: Rachel McAdams’ Christine stood toe-to-toe with Strange in a way that a lot of ‘love interest’ characters don’t, Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Mordo has an great arc throughout the film as more of the plot is uncovered, Benedict Wong’s Wong was both badass and hilarious, and I thought Tilda Swinton’s Ancient One was really well done (despite all the controversy around it) with a great, faceted performance. But this was clearly Strange’s movie, and it really does revolve around him. This leads me to one of my very few cons. I thought we should have gotten more from Mads Mikkelsen’s Kaecilius. He suffers from Marvel Villain syndrome, in that he has a really compelling backstory, but just doesn’t quite have enough time to really make him sympathetic the way Loki was. Although to be fair, you see and hear quite a lot from him (unlike Malekith, who I desperately wanted more of) and does a great job with what he has.

The biggest draw of this movie is most definitely the visuals. They are stunning. We saw this film in 2-D, but if I get the chance, I’m going back to see it in 3-D. To call it both trippy and mind-bending is almost a disservice to how incredible it looked. From simple spellcasting to traversing planes of existence, it’s fascinating to watch. All that Inception-esque stuff from the trailers is only part of a surreal landscape that will honestly make your jaw drop. And the set design is gorgeous as well, from the modernity of Strange’s apartment to the ornate and more organic Kamar-Taj where he trains in magic.

I don’t want to talk about the plot because I don’t accidently want to spoil anything. I will say though, I found the way that the plot progressed and was eventually resolved was unexpected for this kind of movie, but fit with Strange’s character beautifully. I liked that it went in a way that I didn’t expect, that it differentiated itself in that way. The film does move along at a rather brisk pace, plot-wise, not really slowing down to let you catch your breath. I hope now that they’ve gotten the origin out of the way, we can spend more time with these characters without such a hectic pace.

So, to sum up, this was a really fun, fascinatingly psychedelic movie. In a way, it’s been a blessing that Marvel Studios doesn’t have the rights to some of their characters. Not that I wouldn’t love to see the X-Men rocking the same universe as the Avengers, but it does force Marvel to get inventive. It forces them to take chances on characters and properties that might not have otherwise gotten a shot at the big screen. And if this is the result, I say keep digging and let’s see what other weird stuff they’ve got in the back catalog. All that being said, I definitely recommend this movie. If I get a chance to see it again, I know I’m going to.

 

8.5/10- not quite top-tier Marvel, but definitely above mid-tier and an overall fun and exciting ride.

3 Responses to Doctor Strange Review (Spoiler Free!)

  1. I absolutely loved the movie. I’d give it a 100/10 – my absolute favorite movie of all time. I’m actually working with HM3 trying to make some fan art of the movie, but I’m still learning the system again. lol. If anyone wants to talk about the movie – spoilers or no spoilers – I’m on tumblr a bit, so reply to my comment and I’ll respond back to you with my username. lol. 😀

  2. UPDATE: Spoilerific review here if anyone’s interested: http://latenitescholar.blogspot.ca/2016/11/doctor-strange-spoiler-review.html

  3. Light spoilers

    Mostly, I agree with your review, and liked the movie. I also LOVED how they resolved the final battle. The more trippy bits where great, especially when you recognize ditko’s pieces, which I found gorgeous.
    So I’ll instead point out what I didn’t like.

    The Magic.

    The inception-like bits, while very impressive and stunnings, are not a “Dr Strange thing”. More importantly, they serve no purpose at all. The only time they happen to be useful is also the most minor, when, in that bit from the trailers, Kaecilius stretches the corridor to stop strange from fleeing.
    This is not a big bother, but still, it deserved to be mentionned IMO.

    Worse, worse, worse, is everything around it.
    Taking aside the bits with the eye (which includes the cool bits of the final fight), there is nothing strange does that says “magic” to me. THere was no point when I thought “that’s a cool spell, I want my mage to do it”. No incantation, by the way.
    Where are the bolts of cyttorak, the flames of the fatline? You don’t hear about them (which I can excuse), you don’t see them, you don’t see any mystical bolt, shield, transformation, telekinesis, whatever. You don’t see any spell or counterspell.
    No.
    What you get are a bunch of guys that run around, jump, and fight with swords, whips, staffs of combat fans, while parrying with a buckler. The fact that the swords are transparent, the whip/fans/buckler made of energy line is irrelevant. These are not magic fights, these are martial arts fights.

    The only times when the magic felt like Dr Strange’s magic were when he astral projected, and when he protected himself in the final conflict. That’s it. And that sucks.

    Oh, one small bit: The mid-credits scene is great. The post-credit one, right after that wonderful character arc in the movie, felt a little like jumping the shark. This is going in an instant from “We disagree on how to do things” to “we are mortal ennemies”. I can see the progression, but it was too rushed