First, there was men in iron suits. Then, there were gods. Then, there was space. How to up the ante from space? Can you even beat space? Yeah you can: magic. It only makes sense.
Doctor Strange is the 14th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the first one that includes concepts of magic and multiple dimensions. In Doctor Strange, Benedict Cumberbatch plays Dr. Stephen Strange, a famous and cocky neurosurgeon. After a freak car accident, he loses the ability to use his hands, and thus loses his job. Fearing his life gone, he finds a woman only known as the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), who teaches him the ways of the Mystic Arts. As he learns more and more about magic, Strange and his friend Baron Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) are tasked to stop the evil Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) from bringing the Dark Dimension to Earth. And thus, our super epic magic trip begins.
There is a lot to love in Doctor Strange. First thing is the visuals, which is by far the most stunning in all of comic book movie history. Hats off to the visual effects team, which took the iconic Steve Ditko panels from the comics and put them on-screen, and they were outstanding. Doctor Strange is that rare movie I would recommend seeing in 3D. From the stunning magic to how Astral Projection and the Mirror Realm looks, visually Doctor Strange is leagues ahead of any movie this year, especially once we see the Dark Dimension, which makes any and every other superhero film look like a little kid’s drawing. Doctor Strange himself was great, as well. Benedict Cumberbatch doesn’t know how to do a bad role, and his hot streak continues with Doctor Strange. He’s snarky, arrogant, and hilarious, but also is still a genius and intellect that could match Tony Stark. He also has excellent comedic timing, especially near the end when he goes to a place and what happens afterwards was probably the funniest thing that happened in the film. Besides the new Sorcerer Supreme, the Ancient One was also really good. The comic variant was a very racist stereotypical depiction of Tibetan people. The film variant, despite not being actually Tibetan, feels so much more organic. She is powerful, yet flawed. Smart, but also naïve. Mordo exemplified this as well, as he is incredibly powerful, but also mildly clueless and naïve, just like his teacher. And Kaecilius was good too. You get to see where he’s coming from and, if you read the comics, his reasoning is justified and relatable. Not to mention his magic prowess is insane, bending the world in wicked ways.
The action is exciting and mind-blowing, utilizing epic martial arts and crazy visual effects to create fight scenes that push the limits as to what fight scenes can be like. And, as it was shown in the trailer, Doctor Strange can turn back time. And when he does, you’re at awe. It’s hard not to spoil the movie, but there’s a huge reveal at the end of the film that really sets the stage for the next Doctor Strange film and the fate of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The dynamic between Strange and Rachel McAdams’ character is great as well, as is the dynamics with Strange and most of the major characters. It’s rare that all of the characters click together cohesively, but Doctor Strange managed to do just that.
That being said, it isn’t perfect. Some of the humor doesn’t gel well with the situations in which it was presented. Most of the humor lands, but there were certain moments where it doesn’t quite fit. Also, there were some powerful moments that could have been amplified if given longer screen time dedicated to it. Alas, the film is about 2 hours long, but it feels incredibly short. If another 5-10 minutes were added in one scene, then this film would honestly be perfect.
Just like Guardians of the Galaxy before it, Doctor Strange introduced a new concept of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a beautiful and breathtaking way. Clever dialogue, a perfectly casted hero and outstanding visuals puts Doctor Strange in the upper echelon of superhero films. At this point, Marvel is like Pixar: they haven’t made a bad film yet. And with films like Guardians 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Infinity War on the horizon, they can only get better.