The newest Marvel installation aims to show us the more mystical side of the MCU in this psychedelic action flick, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the title character.  While this is definitely one of the most inventive of the universe, it still suffers from a few of the same snags that have plagued almost every Marvel film.  Though that doesn’t stop this film from being thoroughly entertaining.


The Good

Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange

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Is this really a surprise?  We all thought he’d be great, and of course he was!  Benedict Cumberbatch continues to show the world that he is one of the premier leading men in the business.  I think there is definitely a bit of Sherlock shining through in this role, with his sarcastic wit and self-centered arrogance, but in the end it really works for the character.  Stephen Strange’s emotional transformation is also a great testament to Cumberbatch’s dramatic talent.  While he’s no Alan Turing, Benny Boy really delivers in this film.  Again, did you ever really doubt him though?

Mind Bending Visual Effects

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Doctor Strange was heavily marketed as a visually trippy film, and they definitely did not disappoint.  This is one of the best aspects of this film by far.  There are some clear inspirations from Inception present but this film takes that reality distortion to the next level.  I can’t even imagine the amount of work that was put into the art direction, story boarding, and animation for this film.  There is so much creative energy present in some of these scenes and that adds an element of unpredictability to every moment.

While I think these effects are fantastic, scenes can get a little over-crowded at times.  One scene in particular being when Strange and Mordo are being chased by our villains.  Buildings, cars, streets, and everything else you could possibly imagine are twisting, turning, and morphing into crazy shapes and patterns, and it can get pretty hard to follow what’s actually happening.  With that said, the visuals are still undeniably creative and fun to watch, so we can chalk this up as a minor gripe.


The Bad

Another lackluster Villain

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I love villains.  You may already know that, but it’s true!  For me a villain can really make or break a film, especially in the superhero genre, and Marvel has been pretty disappointing in this department.  When I heard that Mads Mikkelsen, one of the most talented and underrated actors today, was going to be playing a villain in a superhero movie, I was genuinely excited.  I mean come on, it’s Mads. Fricken. Mikkelsen!  This should have been a home run here!  In the end though, he unfortunately ended up like  almost every other villain in the MCU; meh.

We’ve seen this kind of villain a hundred times before.  A former student prodigy gone bad, bent on *insert cliche return the world to balance in a misguided way * mumbo jumbo.  This had so much potential! Marvel puts too much thought and energy into it’s heroes, which is why they’re great, but I think they just take the cookie cutter out for all of their villains, which is so sad since it’s leaving out such a vital part of the genre.  This film sadly doesn’t break from that mold.

A Cumbersome Beginning and Questionable End

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Not to say that these elements of the film are terrible, they’re just not as good as they could be, or the rest of the movie for that matter.  The whole beginning of this movie, all the way up until the scene in the picture above, is a bit scattered and disjointed.  Things just don’t seem as smooth as the rest of the film and feels a little rushed.  I know everyone is sick of origin stories, but I think we could’ve cut this one some slack.

The ending on the other hand I was not impressed with at all.  Another cliche of Marvel tends to be shutting down the “big baddy” and all chaos created by said character magically disappears (quite literally in this case).  While Dr. Strange does this in a different way, it’s still essentially the same deal.  I can give that factor a pass, but it’s the manner in which Strange defeats this enemy that left me asking “…really?”  It seems a bit reminiscent of a certain Bill Murray movie if you ask me, and in comparison to the rest of the movie, it left me quite disappointed.


The Tally

Performances: 4/5

  • Benedict Cumberbatch was made for this role and did a fantastic job as the Sorcerer Supreme.
  • Tilda Swinton was actually quite good as well!  She continues to churn out incredible performances with another very interesting character.
  • While I was disappointed with where his character went, Mads Mikkelsen still gives a very intimidating and villainous performance.

Direction: 3/5

  • This film has many great moments and the action is directed well.
  • Wildly imaginative shots throughout the movie.
  • There a few hit or miss moments regarding the pace of the film, particularly in the beginning.

Production: 5/5

  • Mind blowing and creative visual effects that are top notch quality.  The use of these effects service the film perfectly.
  • Costume and set design are very cool.
  • The casting was spot on in every regard.

Writing: 3/5

  • The humor and dialogue between characters is great.
  • The story itself is not bad, but it does suffer from that “Marvel cliche” that we’re used to.
  • The resolution between Strange and the villain in this film is really quite disappointing and a little too convenient.

Score: 3/5

  • Elevates some moments throughout and has a few pretty cool tracks.
  • It’s a serviceable score, but suffers from another repeating Marvel problem; kind of bland/unmemorable.
  • This score sounds A LOT like the score from Star Trek, which leads me to wonder if it was temp scored for this movie.

Entertainment: 4/5

  • In the end it’s a fun and enjoyable super hero movie with a few problems.  
  • It’s not my favorite Marvel film, but it is one the better ones for sure.  Not as good as say Winter Soldier or Guardians of the Galaxy, but I’d place it the better half of the MCU.
  • It’s great to see that Marvel is still trying to find new ways to keep the superhero genre fresh and entertaining and I can’t wait to see where they go from here!

Total: 22/30

Final Score: 7.3/10

Curious how I rate movies?  Click here!

Definitely check this one out!  Its a very creative and trippy ride that will not fail to entertain.  Marvel has been continually getting better and better, and this film opens up new and fun doors to the future of the MCU.

 

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