Film Review: “Doctor Strange”


The 14th entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “Doctor Strange” stars Benedict Cumberbatch as the Sorcerer Supreme himself.

From the "Doctor Strange" Facebook page

From the "Doctor Strange" Facebook page

Along with Cumberbatch, the film stars Tilda Swinton (“Michael Clayton”, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”), Rachel McAdams (“Mean Girls”, “Spotlight”), Chiwetel Ejiofor (“12 Years a Slave”), and Mads Mikkelsen (“Hannibal”).

A world famous neurosurgeon, Dr. Stephen Strange finds himself in a near crippling car accident. His hands now rendered useless, he seeks the help of spiritual eastern medicine, introducing him to a world that’s more than meets the eye.

See this movie in 3-D. See this on the biggest screen possible. The way that director Scott Derrickson and cinematographer Ben Davis take advantage of the visual medium is beyond anything that’s ever been seen in a superhero film before. Some of the trippiest, most mind bending and most creative visual sequences in the history of film can be found here. The film really goes out there with what it can do, running the risk of maybe being too much for casual audiences, but it succeeds wonderfully. This is only heightened by the film’s outstanding visual effects. There’s a whole lot of CGI used here, but aside for couple of instances, it’s never overly noticeable. We here at The Campus Citizen do not advocate drug use, especially in a public setting, but wink wink, hint hint, nudge nudge.

While the film takes many successful chances visually, it does not do the same with its story. This is a very beat for beat superhero origin story. The hero starts out one way. The hero gets his/her powers. The hero is now another way. The hero fights the bad guy. The film follows this formula exactly. This is likely Marvel’s means of still keeping the film safe. Fans would cry foul if the film was anything less than an acid trip. In order to attract wider audience, the film needed to do something somewhat familiar. It’s understandable, but it doesn’t change that the film falls short of being great.

Marvel has been pretty on the nose with their casting choices, and Benedict Cumberbatch is no exception. His piercing gaze and deep, bellowing voice fit the Sorcerer Supreme perfectly. He ‘s able to chant out spells and magical mumbo jumbo without it sounding the least bit hokey. He’s even able to pull off his character's human side. While he embodies Strange’s arrogant swagger, he really shines in the more emotional scenes, particularly the ones concerning Strange’s hands. He trembles his hands in such a way that it's almost heartbreaking to watch. He nails all aspects of the character, from the grounded to the mystical.

As The Ancient One, Tilda Swinton does the best work out of any actor in the film as The Ancient One. Swinton is one of those actors that can’t give a bad performance. She manages to find something complex in even the simplest roles. Her character isn’t given a whole lot to do in the film, but that doesn’t stop Swinton. She’s able to act so complex by acting so simple. Her subtle facial expressions convey so much emotion despite the character being, for the most part, monotone. Her presence is mysterious and captivating, making for an intriguing character not often found in superhero films.

Another common occurrence in Marvel’s films are their lackluster villains, and Mads Mikkelsen as Kaecilius is, once again, no exception. It’s a shame to see Mikkelsen wasted in such an underwritten role. He’s a great talent. Fans of “Hannibal” will attest to this. There’s not much else to say other than he does his best job with what he’s given, but he’s given so little that it’s barely worth noting.

The same could be said about Chiwetel Ejiofor and Rachel McAdams, but their characters are a good deal more significant than Mikkelsen’s. They’re not terribly complex, but they do serve a purpose to the overall story and both actors do give good performances. Again, it’s a shame to see both of these talented actors being wasted on relatively minor roles, but hopefully they’ll be given more room to act in future film.

“Doctor Strange” continues Marvel’s streak of never making a bad movie. Their films range from acceptable to great, and this film ranks high among its colleagues. While not particularly daring in its storytelling, the film more than makes up for it with its mind boggling, kaleidoscope-on -steroids levels of visuals created through stunning computer effects. While they may be the only two, both Cumberbatch and Swinton deliver great performances that stay true and add to their characters. Marvel does it again. Check it out.

A world famous neurosurgeon, Dr. Stephen Strange finds himself in a near crippling car accident. His hands now rendered useless, he seeks the help of spiritual eastern medicine, introducing him to a world that’s more than meets the eye.

From the "Doctor Strange" Facebook page.

From the "Doctor Strange" Facebook page.

See this movie in 3-D. See this on the biggest screen possible. The way that director Scott Derrickson and cinematographer Ben Davis take advantage of the visual medium is beyond anything that’s ever been seen in a superhero film before. Some of the trippiest, most mind bending and most creative visual sequences in the history of film can be found here. The film really goes out there with what it can do, running the risk of maybe being too much for casual audiences, but it succeeds wonderfully. This is only heightened by the film’s outstanding visual effects. There’s a whole lot of CGI used here, but aside for couple of instances, it’s never overly noticeable. We here at The Campus Citizen do not advocate drug use, especially in a public setting, but wink wink, hint hint, nudge nudge.

While the film takes many successful chances visually, it does not do the same with its story. This is a very beat for beat superhero origin story. The hero starts out one way. The hero gets his/her powers. The hero is now another way. The hero fights the bad guy. The film follows this formula exactly. This is likely Marvel’s means of still keeping the film safe. Fans would cry foul if the film was anything less than an acid trip. In order to attract wider audience, the film needed to do something somewhat familiar. It’s understandable, but it doesn’t change that the film falls short of being great.

Marvel has been pretty on the nose with their casting choices, and Benedict Cumberbatch is no exception. His piercing gaze and deep, bellowing voice fit the Sorcerer Supreme perfectly. He ‘s able to chant out spells and magical mumbo jumbo without it sounding the least bit hokey. He’s even able to pull off his character's human side. While he embodies Strange’s arrogant swagger, he really shines in the more emotional scenes, particularly the ones concerning Strange’s hands. He trembles his hands in such a way that it's almost heartbreaking to watch. He nails all aspects of the character, from the grounded to the mystical.

As The Ancient One, Tilda Swinton does the best work out of any actor in the film as The Ancient One. Swinton is one of those actors that can’t give a bad performance. She manages to find something complex in even the simplest roles. Her character isn’t given a whole lot to do in the film, but that doesn’t stop Swinton. She’s able to act so complex by acting so simple. Her subtle facial expressions convey so much emotion despite the character being, for the most part, monotone. Her presence is mysterious and captivating, making for an intriguing character not often found in superhero films.

Another common occurrence in Marvel’s films are their lackluster villains, and Mads Mikkelsen as Kaecilius is, once again, no exception. It’s a shame to see Mikkelsen wasted in such an underwritten role. He’s a great talent. Fans of “Hannibal” will attest to this. There’s not much else to say other than he does his best job with what he’s given, but he’s given so little that it’s barely worth noting.

The same could be said about Chiwetel Ejiofor and Rachel McAdams, but their characters are a good deal more significant than Mikkelsen’s. They’re not terribly complex, but they do serve a purpose to the overall story and both actors do give good performances. Again, it’s a shame to see both of these talented actors being wasted on relatively minor roles, but hopefully they’ll be given more room to act in future film.

“Doctor Strange” continues Marvel’s streak of never making a bad movie. Their films range from acceptable to great, and this film ranks high among its colleagues. While not particularly daring in its storytelling, the film more than makes up for it with its mind boggling, kaleidoscope-on -steroids levels of visuals created through stunning computer effects. While they may be the only two, both Cumberbatch and Swinton deliver great performances that stay true and add to their characters. Marvel does it again. Check it out.