I made a point this past weekend to go and see Dr. Strange in the biggest 3D theater I could, and I was not disappointed. I have been looking forward to this movie ever since Benedict Cumberbatch signed on to play the mystical Sorcerer Supreme. If anyone could help make this character believable and bring him to life, it is Sherlock… I mean Cumberbatch. Marvel really has done it again (not very surprising). They took an origin story, something we have now seen over and over, and managed to make it unique and special.
Dr. Strange is the story of a very gifted and arrogant surgeon who gets into a harrowing car accident that leaves his hands crippled. Having lost the ability to operate and thus his identity, he turns to any method available to heal his hands. When western medicine fails him, he turns to eastern medicine and eventually finds The Ancient One. He then learns the mystical arts, and thus begins his path to becoming Sorcerer Supreme.
First, let’s talk about the special effects in this movie… amazing! It has some of the best I’ve ever seen, and this is a very heavily CGI driven movie, but it never breaks the immersion of the viewer, which is impressive. Of course it’s going to draw comparisons to Inception, but I felt it really made the wall running, world bending effects its own. This leads me to the fight choreography, which is superbly done. I cant imagine having to choreograph (or act for that matter) in a scene where there are real weapons and ones that will be added in later with CGI. Pulling strikes and pretending they hit a ‘magical shield’, and making it believable is a feat all on its own, and this movie does it very well. The spell casting and hand movements that go along with it are done very well, and don’t look silly at all like one would imagine they might.
The casting and performances for this movie are fantastic as well. Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange just works. He really brings the character to life, and is the perfect combination of intelligent, arrogant, witty and charming. He has great chemistry with Rachel McAdams, who is also very good. Mads Mikkelsen plays a great bad guy Kaecilius, although I would have liked a little more back story on him so he wasn’t just the “bad guy” and we better understood his motivations. Tilda Swinton was superb as The Ancient one. There was a lot of controversy around this role, but the people behind this movie were definitely between a rock and a hard place. Do you cast an Asian actor/actress for another very stereotypical western portrayal of eastern mysticism and offend people, or do you offend people by ‘white washing’? Can’t really win, but no one can refute how well Swinton portrayed the role so we will leave that discussion there.
I don’t want to give too much away so I’m not going to go too in-depth, but if I had to be really picky there are a few things I would have liked explained better. First, how the powers worked, and how powerful Stephen actually is (in the comics he is one of the most powerful beings in existence). We get a very quick training montage with very little explanation and all of a sudden Strange is as powerful as masters that have been training for decades (especially in martial arts training, this doesn’t make much sense… this is not Kung Fu Panda). I also, like I said above, would have liked more character development of the villain Kaecilius, as well as more back story on The Ancient one, but I realize that would have been hard to do, and definitely would have added to the run time.
Introducing Dr. Strange to the Marvel cinematic universe also does a lot for the stories they can now tell and really the longevity of the movies going forward. Thor introduced us to realms, Guardians introduced us to the universe, and now Dr. Strange has brought the multivese. They literally have endless stories they can tell now.
All in all Dr. Strange is a super fun movie! I brought a date that is not into superhero movies, or had even watched any of the other marvel movies (living under a rock, I know haha) and even she really enjoyed it. It has something for everyone, and I definitely recommend seeing it in theaters. Go find the biggest screen you can, and if you can handle it, see this one in 3D!