Doctor Strange is a 2016 superhero film directed by Scott Derrickson, written by Scott Derrickson, Jon Spaihts and C. Robert Cargill and stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Mads Mikkelsen and Tilda Swinton. The film is an origin story of the newest entry into the MCU, Doctor Strange.
To begin with, the film is visually stunning. The CGI/VFX work on the film is inspired and par excellence. It is an amalgamation of the dream like world of Inception and the trippy visuals after a drug binge. They are a shoo in to leave any audience member spellbound.
The film treads some very familiar waters when it comes to origin stories. It does this at a much quicker pace than most others, but it is still more of some very similar plot beats. One cannot help but remember the first Kung Fu Panda film. Apart from the fact the lead character is a fat, inept panda there to a smart, capable doctor here, there is not much of a variation in how the plot moves along. There are substitutes for Tai Lung, Master Oogway etc. Where the film diverges from that place is with its aforementioned style.
Benedict Cumberbatch is a treat to watch as the lead character. It is a stroke of some casting genius here. He lights up the screen when he is on it even though his character might suffer from some weak writing from time to time. Weak writing being he is just very plain with his motivations and his superior intellect, which is near superhuman sometimes, makes some of ebbs in the film feel unearned. The humor associated with him and his supporting cast of characters sparkles more often than not. Tilda Swinton is back again showing there is no role she cant pull off. Watching her as The Ancient One was one of the major highlights of the film. Her beaming face which has very subtle emoting happening throughout is just a reminder of how good an actress the woman is. A shout out to the cloak of levitation. It added a fair bit of levity to the film as well.
Chiwetel Ejiofor is back at it again showing he is a great character actor and he go about his job as one of the masters very diligently. His arc towards the end of the film and what it may lead up to might be the most exciting aspect of the whole story. The most glaring waste of talent here is Rachel McAdams. She was nothing more than the good looking love interest with a few funny lines. A quick recap of Natalie Portman from the Thor movies might be the best indicator of what one might see from the Rachel McAdams in this film.
On the bad guy side, Marvel still struggles to get itself a good villain. With Mads Mikkelsen at its disposal, one might not be wrong to think a great bad guy was in the offing, but a half baked, poorly written villain is what one will find on screen. Apart from a very funny bit, Dormmamu is equally as ridiculous as the other bad guy. The film jumps from act to act very abruptly and fails at describing how powerful some of its characters are which creates a distinct lack of tension. Couple that with the characters forgetting they have magical powers and a recipe for some head scratching moments during fight scenes have been served up.
All in all, the film offers up more of the same from the MCU but also tries something new as well. It might be a predictable experience at the movies but it is not a boring one.
OVERALL SCORE – 3/5