“Although it may not be the best Marvel film, it certainly is the prettiest.”
It seems that as time goes on, Marvel films just keep getting more and more refined to the point where there isn’t much wrong with them. Of course it helps that the films are so similar that mistakes from past films can influence decisions of future films, but I’m not here to chastise Marvel but rather applaud them for their newest endeavour Doctor Strange. Doctor Strange is the story of a neurosurgeon who loses the function of his hands in a car accident. After exhausting all forms of western medicine, he travels to ‘The Ancient One’ in hopes of having the use of his hands restored. What he finds is that The Ancient One leads a group of sorcerers who defend the earth against dark forces, and do cool magic tricks and stuff.
What I loved so much about Doctor Strange is how beautiful the film is. I don’t know that there was a moment where my mouth wasn’t agape at the beauty I was seeing onscreen. People can shit on CGI all they want (hell, I’m even guilty of that at times) but Doctor Strange is a perfect example of what it can accomplish if done right. The film has these moments that resemble living surrealistic paintings. The best example I can give is that it’s like looking at a M.C. Escher painting through a Kaleidoscope. Now I’m not really a wordsmith so if that example sounds like it would be a horrible time, then I did’t quite nail what this film feels like. Just suffice it to say that Doctor Strange is one of the more beautiful films I have seen in a long time.
Now to talk about the writing. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil the film but if you don’t want to hear anything about the story you can skip down to my rating.
Now I had heard that many people were complaining about Doctor Strange’s similarities to the character of Tony Stark. While these similarities are striking, I don’t necessarily have a problem with it. First of all, the characters aren’t exactly the same. The similarities mainly come from the cracking-wise and the fact that both men are rich; past that you would have to draw some real weak connections to make them sound alike. Second of all, we need an iron man replacement. Iron man kickstarted all of the shit that we have today, and he did that because of how likeable the character was. He is a fun superhero, always able to crack a joke even in a time of peril. It’s fun to watch him be a dick to people and flaunt his money; but the fact of the matter is that Iron Man isn’t going to be around forever. There have been talks in the past little while that point to Downey Jr. leaving the MCU, which is terribly sad because he is Iron Man, but this is why I’m happy that Doctor Strange is being set up to replace this character type that Iron Man will leave behind. Also, it works. The comedy doesn’t feel forced, Doctor Strange doesn’t feel like a caricature, everything feels natural just like it did with the introduction of Iron Man.
This leads me to my next point: the fact that it was interesting to introduce a character that it’s hard to relate to. Going back to Iron Man, Tony Stark is not someone who you automatically relate to, but by the end of the movie you do. This was accomplished mainly through the plot of Tony Stark not liking that his weapons were being sold to terrorists. That is something that everyone can relate to: fuck terrorists. But Doctor Strange was a dick who got his hands crushed because he was driving like a dick. Sure he made me laugh a couple of times, but nothing was really done to make me feel for the character. I did’t necessarily hate the character, I just know that if he would be put in a position where he might die, I wouldn’t yet shed a tear. I’m not sure if this will be built upon in later films, but as it stands it was definitely an interesting choice to make Doctor Strange not very likeable (at least to me).
As far as other facets go, I felt the acting in Doctor Strange was pretty good. I’m excited to see more Benedict Cumberbatch as well as other characters that appeared. I felt that everyone did a good job with both the comedy, as well as more emotionally heavy moments. I felt that the writing in Doctor Strange was really good, specifically how the film dealt with the darker moments and comedy. The film definitely had an emotionally weight to it when it wanted to, but when the fun started, it didn’t really stop. The inclusion of magic into the MCU was very well done, and it helped that they did it in a light hearted way (mainly the personification of objects). Unfortunately I did have one problem with the film and that was the structure of the story. I felt that the ending of Doctor Strange was kind of tacked on, and it wasn’t really what the film was building toward. It’s a difficult thing to do, introducing not only a new character but a new villain and new world mechanics. I feel that all of this was a little too much for Doctor Strange and the ending confrontations felt really rushed, almost like the writers felt obligated to have a big fight scene at the end. This of course leads into Mads Mikkelsen who I thought was criminally underused. I mean for a villain he only really gets one monologue, or chance to share his perspective. This made the entire antagonist storyline feel incidental, and like it had no weight. Other than this misstep I thought Doctor Strange was a solid film.
Ultimately Doctor Strange is a great introduction to the character, but with a few story issues. Although it may not be the best Marvel film, it certainly is the prettiest.
I give Doctor Strange a B