Director: Scott Derrickson
Running Time: 1 hour, 55 minutes
"Doctor Strange" is directed by Scott Derrickson and is the 14th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Much like many other Marvel films, this is an origin story. It tells the back story of how neurosurgeon Dr. Stephen Strange, played by the perfectly cast Oscar nominee Benedict Cumberbatch, became Doctor Strange, sorcerer supreme. Many will be annoyed with the fact that this is yet another origin story, but we personally knew nothing about Doctor Strange before going into the film, so we're not too upset about it. Marvel certainly sticks to their (so far) winning formula, that's no lie.
The film is certainly a visual spectacle to behold as Strange and many others he encounters travel through multiple dimensions of the infinite and vast universe in a breathtaking, crazy, and sometimes terrifying display. Some of these dimensions border on being a pure acid trip in terms of their randomness and levels of lights and colors and moving parts, but dear lord are they spectacular. The effects bend our world like it's an M.C. Esher painting with staircases going every which way in a physics-defying feat. The effects alone are worth the price of admission to this flick.
Benedict Cumberbatch does a good job as Doctor Strange. He certainly has the physical look of the character. We think Marvel made the right choice in waiting for Cumberbatch to play this role because he can certainly portray a character that is beyond an arrogant egomaniac and still manage to remain likable. We see Strange's transformation from being wholly self-centered to someone who is willing to be self-sacrificing, but is also still a little bit of a prick. Joining Cumberbatch is Oscar nominee Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One, the centuries old Celtic sorceress and head of the Kamar-taj, who trains Strange in the magic of the mystic arts. Assisting The Ancient One is Master Mordo, played by Oscar nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor, who is a devout follower of hers. They all must battle against Kaecilius, played by Mads Mikkelsen, a zealot who seeks eternal life from the dark dimension.
There have always been complaints that many Marvel villains are simply disposable with a few notable exceptions. BigJ and I have always understood most of Marvel's villains to have a deeper purpose than what is shown on a surface level, but unfortunately in the case of Kaecilius, he is not only disposable, but completely undeveloped to boot. He has some nifty powers and offers interesting and cool action sequences, but not much else. It's too bad, especially considering Mads Mikkelsen has such a great on screen presence and the ability to deliver excellent, villainous performances. Kaecilius is too poorly written and feels underutilized here. Speaking of underutilized, Rachel McAdams unfortunately falls in this category as well. Her character Christine Palmer seems to be in "Doctor Strange" because these movies are supposed to have a female character that is part of the hero's emotional support system. McAdams herself is fine in her limited capacity, but Palmer only exists to humanize the dickish Strange, nothing more, nothing less.
This latest addition into the Marvel Cinematic Universe offers a lot fun and entertainment. It is super enjoyable and very well acted, though it doesn't quite reach the level of "Captain America: Civil War" from earlier this year, not that the two should be compared because they are so very different. That being said, there are moments of slowness and some thinly written characters. We are certainly looking forward to seeing more from the character of Doctor Strange and his egotistical, snarky, cocky ways, and it will be interesting to see where the Marvel overlords go with this character in relation to the Avengers and other characters in the MCU.
My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 7.5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~8.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ~90%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!