Film Review: “Doctor Strange” (2016)

“Doctor Strange” (2016)

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Wong: Heroes like the Avengers protect the world from physical dangers. We safeguard it against more mystical threats.

Running Time: 115 minutes

Director: Scott Derrickson

Featuring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Benjamin Bratt, Tilda Swinton, Mads Mikkelsen

Wong: Heroes like the Avengers protect the world from physical dangers. We safeguard it against more mystical threats.

I feel like I have to start any Disney Marvel Cinematic Universe review by saying I grew up on Marvel and DC comics, and for many reasons always loved the Marvel Universe a lot more, mainly because the characters were relatable, and so more real to me as a young guy. One thing my friends and i used to do was to create casting choices for the possible movie that would star your favorite character, and now these are all coming to life with some of the most popular actors around – Score!

Now we are in the MCU’s phase III and the latest installment is the Scott Derrickson directed “Doctor Strange” (2016) featuring the always-great Benedict Cumberbatch as the titular hero, in really his first leading role in a massively budgeted movie ,and he pulls it off with a knowing glint is his eye – I think he knows the next few years are going to be very busy and exciting.

This movie follows the normal comic book tropes for a new entry into the MCU, we find brilliant, talented and narcissist neurosurgeon Dr. Stephen Strange moving through his charmed existence only caring for himself, his own research and his worldly possessions. Of course as per the case with people who transform from one thing into another in the MCU, Strange gets his comeuppance in losing the things that mean the most to him, and define his very existence, the full use of his hands. With this loss comes the realization that he is less than nothing, and through various means ends up in front of a person who goes by the moniker “The Ancient One”, a person who is the head of an order of Magicians. Yes this movie is moving away from aliens and technology to the realms of magic, and how this may affect the Earth – it is revealed that while the Avengers protect the Earth against physical threats, it is this order of Magicians that protects the Earth against magical enemies.

Needless to say Strange encounters this magical threat and after a steep learning curve, which proves comical and serious, he starts to become a very different person, someone who will one day become the Sorcerer Supreme of our dimension.

I am not going to get into spoilers but once again Marvel/Disney have been able to assemble a talented cast each of whom could be the lead in any other film, but here they literally band together behind Cumberbatch helping support him in a role that could be full of chuckles and eye rolls but actually, by the end of the movie, you cannot help but want to see more of this corner of the MCU.

We also have Tilda Swinton as the “The Ancient One” whose portayal has come under some scrutiny, as they have cast a young woman in a role that was intended to an elderly Asian man in the comics – however the reason for the alteration does become obvious as it relates directly to the story, so I don’t believe it’s the big deal that some have made out. Rachel McAdams is the love interest and really suffers with the weakest role in the film, but delivers some great looks and lines, this could be said to be the weakness in this film. That said this has a huge cast and the shortest running time of any MCU film yet, so maybe lengthening it would have given McAdams more to do. With, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, Benjamin Bratt and Mads Mikkelsen rounding out the cast this has to be one of the strongest group of actors this year in any film – all respected lead and character actors bringing their “A” games.

Another aspect to this film is the playful sense of humor that has only increased with each successive movie and here it works really well, from the incidental characters to even the big bad that is revealed in the final battle. Everyone gets a turn in this film not only to illustrate their back stories but to also strut their sense of humor and ability to deliver funny lines.

This is another in what has become a list of first franchise movies joining the likes, of “Iron Man” (2008), “Thor” (2011), “Captain America: The First Avenger” (2011), “The Guardians of the Galaxy” (2014) and “Ant-Man” (2015) as a great jumping off point for new and existing fans to enjoy a new world that will, in time become part of the bigger picture, that being next years Thor and later Avenger films – I cannot wait to see where Strange goes from here.

I have to say that I think that this film about a character that could have been left on the sidelines and not given his own film shows just how ahead and superior Disney/Marvel are at these films and other companies could learn a thing or two about storytelling, casting, narrative and plot so that their own films could at least equal these movies.

This is a must see and has to be seen at the movies you will not be disappointed!

If you enjoyed this then watch:

“Iron Man” (2008)

“Thor” (2011)

“Captain America: The First Avenger” (2011)

“The Guardians of the Galaxy” (2014)

“Ant-Man” (2015)

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