Martens' Movie Reviews

Movie Reviews from an avid movie-goer

Doctor Strange Review

Released: November 4, 2016
Running Time: 1 hour 55 minutes

“Dr. Stephen Strange’s life changes after a car accident robs him of the use of his hands. When traditional medicine fails him, he looks for healing, and hope, in a mysterious enclave. He quickly learns that the enclave is at the front line of a battle against unseen dark forces bent on destroying reality. Before long, Strange is forced to choose between his life of fortune and status or leave it all behind to defend the world as the most powerful sorcerer in existence.”

Marvel Cinematic Universe MCU

Marvel Cinematic Universe – Source – Marvel Studios

You can find all of the reviews for the Marvel Cinematic Universe at the link here. At that link, you can also find the dates that the other reviews for the Marvel Cinematic Universe will be posted. My plan is to release one every single day, and because I’ve already reviewed Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 here, and Spider – Man: Homecoming here, they will not be included in the two weeks leading up to Thor Ragnarok.

As such, I will now move onto the actual review of the film, and I hope you enjoy!

Doctor Strange Trailer – Source: Marvel Studios


Cast and Crew

This film was directed by Scott Derrickson, whose work has been in mostly horror centric films such as ‘The Exorcism of Emily Rose’ in 2005, ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’ in 2008, and ‘Deliver Us from Evil’ in 2014. His work on this film was interesting as it wasn’t exactly horror, but it still contained some of the elements that he’s familiar with, and I wish that if he ends up directing the sequel, that they choose to go more into that style and genre.

Doctor Strange was written by Jon Spaihts, Derrickson & C. Robert Cargill. Spaihts’ previous work includes ‘The Darkest Hour’ in 2011, and ‘Prometheus’ in 2012 prior to writing this film. He has since worked on several shorts as well as ‘The Mummy’ earlier this year. Cargill has written ‘Sinister’ and ‘Sinister 2’ in 2012 and 2015 prior to this film. Derrickson’s work as a writer includes writing with Cargill on the ‘Sinister’ movies, ‘Devil’s Knot’ in 2013, as well as the film that he directed in 2014 mentioned above, ‘Deliver Us from Evil’.

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The cast featured Benedict CumberbatchChiwetel EjioforRachel McAdamsBenedict WongMads MikkelsenTilda SwintonMichael StuhlbargBenjamin BrattScott AdkinsTopo WresniwiroMark Anthony BrightonLinda Louise DuanUmit UlgenChris Hemsworth and Stan Lee.

Review

The visuals in Doctor Strange are probably the best part about it, and that’s not a knock on the quality of the film, quite the opposite actually, that’s how good the visuals are. The many different realms that we are treated to and the very trippy experience that Stephen goes through is something that is rarely seen in blockbuster movies, and took the visual cues from when Ant-Man visited the Quantum Realm, and multiplied that tenfold. It was an amazing visual experience, and I have to say that I preferred the film when I saw it in regular IMAX. I saw this film about 3 or 4 times in theatres, not only to see which version I liked best, but also because I had a lot of fun and free time back then.

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This movie’s visuals are also influenced by the Christopher Nolan film ‘Inception’, and I feel like they did a magnificent job in bringing those visuals to the MCU. I had seen it in UltraAvx 3D, IMAX 3D, regular and regular IMAX. I’m someone who has to wear glasses, so when I have to put another pair on top of my own, it’s not fun. I also find, like many other people, that films in 3D are darkened with the glasses and you miss out on the bright vibrant colours that they spent so much time on. There’s also the fact that 3D films are a gimmick and gave theatre chains an excuse to raise ticket prices, and their time should be finished.

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One of the unfortunate parts about this movie’s use of magic, was that they didn’t show enough creativity with spells. The characters all decide that it’s a good idea to create little shields, whips, and swords made out of magic. There’s also the whole point where people just forget that their magical, and just fist fight each other, which granted might be something that the audiences can understand, but with a movie that is introducing magic into the MCU, show us some magic. Yes, they are able to teleport, and release their Astral Form from their bodies, however there’s no sense of magic in their fights other than glowing weapons and shields.

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There’s no sense of time in Doctor Strange, which is very ironic as they have the Time Stone in this film. There’s no timeline that is given to let the audience know when everything is happening. How long was Strange training in Kamar-Taj? How long did he try to fix his hands with modern medicine? When did Strange defeat Kaecilius? It’s a small criticism, but for a franchise that used to be very open with its timelines, this was the movie that started to confuse that a little.

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The ancient one played by Tilda Swinton, was something of a controversy when they decided to cast a female in a typically male role from the comics. They argued that the ancient one’s character is not defined by their gender, and it’s something that I can understand, I appreciated the little joke that they inputted when Strange thought the wise looking Asian man was the Ancient One who was in fact the one serving him tea. I knew almost right away that she was using power from Dark Dimension, as her face was hooded the entire time during the fight at the beginning of the film, which was a pretty big giveaway as they were in the Mirror Dimension, and the mark on her forehead would have been visible. I feel like they did a good job with the character overall, and while I really enjoyed her death scene, sharing that moment with Strange, I feel like they shouldn’t have killed off the Ancient One that quickly.

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The character of Mordo who was portrayed in the film by Chiwetel Ejiofor, followed a similar path that the MCU took with Loki. Starting out the film as a friend to the hero, and through jealousy and a difference of ideology, comes to resent the hero and what they stand for by the end of it. I am really excited to see where they will take the character, and I feel he could be the new ‘Loki’, however he’s not as charismatic of a character that Loki is.

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Rachel McAdams did a good job at playing the ‘love interest’ Christine Palmer, of the hero in a way similar to how they made the relationship between Stark and Potts, by having them being able to have intelligent conversation, and the character is able to be someone else other than the love interest. She’s an intelligent doctor in her own right, and Strange trusts her to be able to help him when he was injured. The fact that she wasn’t a damsel in distress, and was a strong, yet funny character whose world was flipped upside down out of nowhere. The broom cupboard scene is still something that makes me laugh when I think about it.

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Benedict Wong as Wong was an amazing choice for the character, as they didn’t even need to change his name. I know that was a bad ‘joke’, that’s why I’m not a comedian. I still find that he did a really good job at portraying the character, and found him to be quite funny in a similar vein as Drax in the Guardians of the Galaxy films. He’s the straight man in the film, not laughing at anything that ‘funny man’ Stephen Strange says, until the absolute end. I hope that they continue that relationship between Strange and Wong, and I’m happy that they didn’t make him his butler or slave in this film, but rather an equal of sorts.

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They flipped the switch on the villain Kaecilius, making him the main bad guy who was trained by the Ancient One, rather than having Mordo be the villain in this film. He was played by Mads Mikkelsen, who did a good job, but was nowhere near the top of his game for this one. I can understand the reasoning to make Mordo a friend and give him an actual arc in the films, the useage of Kaecilius felt very wasted, and wasn’t a very ‘scary’ villain, his usage in the film amounted to outing the Ancient One as a user magic from the Dark Dimension, and to introduce the character of Dormammu, who will hopefully and eventually become the big bad that Strange will have to face off with once again.

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Stephen Strange was played amazingly by Benedict Cumberbatch in a role that is extremely similar to a lot of his other roles, but when you know where your wheelhouse is, you try to stay in it, as you excel in that. He plays sarcastic, brilliant and arrogant extremely well, and was able to bring that experience and grandeur to the character. I enjoyed his performance as much as I enjoy his performance as Sherlock Holmes. I’m biased in that I love pretty much everything that this actor has done in the last decade, but I still think that most can agree that he did a good job at capturing the essence of the character that the MCU is choosing to go with.

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The Time Stone being in the Eye of Agamotto is something that is very peculiar and interesting situation that they are presenting, as it leaves people wondering what will happen to that relic whenever the stone is taken out, as we all know will happen during the Avengers Infinity War movie or its sequel. I did absolutely love how they handled the Time Stone with the apple, and during the final battle. I think that it was clever, however it is incredibly overpowered, and I hope that it’s not abused in future films, and I hope to see the relic survive the potential loss of the stone.

The Cloak of Levitation was one of those strange things in the film that was hit or miss in the way it was handled. While I loved the fact that they gave the Cloak a personality and made it a character in the film, I feel like it made Strange seem dopey at times, and wiping away the fake tear was a bit much. I can’t wait to see what they make that cape do next.

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The origin story for this movie is very much like Iron Man, where a egotistical and brilliant man at the top of their field,  gets into an accident, and over time tries to become a better man. The fact that Stephen Strange caused his own accident is something that is very important as he ‘ruined’ his life all by himself. He was driving distracted, he’s the one whose ego led him to keep trying different methods of ‘saving’ his hands, and he’s the one whose attitude drove Christine Palmer away. It’s something that shows the arc and change in his character when he starts thinking about others, and is forced into this great fight for the planet.

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The ending of this film was really quite lame when it came to the actual battle, as I’ve already mentioned, I wasn’t impressed with their creativity of making magic swords and shields, which ended up in a fist fight. The good thing about the ending was the time loop that Strange created to trap Dormammu into ending his quest to devour Earth. It’s something that was heavily foreshadowed and easy to see coming, but the smugness that Cumberbatch is able to get across makes the scene. The character of Doctor Strange is willing to die over and over and over again to save the planet, and I find that is when we learn the true character of the new Stephen Strange.

Doctor Strange

Dormammu, I’ve come to bargain – Source: Marvel Studios

The mid credit sequence in Doctor Strange flows right into the Thor: Ragnarok film, with a scene that will most likely feature in the film itself, as the post credit scene of Ant-Man was a fragment of a scene from Captain America: Civil War. Stephen Strange, now welcoming ‘clients’ into his home greets Thor, who has brought Loki to Earth, Strange mentions that Loki is on his list of people he doesn’t want on his planet. He agrees to help locate Odin after he magically refilled Thor’s mug of beer, on the condition that they all leave Earth afterwards.

Doctor Strange

Mid Credit Scene Thor’s beer being refilled – Source: Marvel Studios

The post credit scene shows the fall of Mordo, where he starts hunting down sorcerers as they mess with nature, and that the bill comes due. It sets up the future of the Doctor Strange films, and hopefully a villain that will last a few films.

Doctor Strange

Mordo stealing the magic out of Pangborn – Source: Marvel Studios

Overall I feel like this movie is either beloved by those that saw it, or feel like it was a magical version of Iron Man. I am one of the people that enjoyed the film, while also realizing it’s flaws. The characters were entertaining, and while the story has been done to death by now, I still find that it was original in some of its executions. When I first saw this movie, my first reaction after coming out was that this film was a 9.5/10, and that excitement and love for the movie has simmered a bit, as I’ve had the chance to really look at it, and evaluate it for what it is. The ending of the film was lots of fun, while also setting up Doctor Strange as a serious threat to Thanos in the future while he has the Time Stone in the Eye of Agamotto. I can’t wait to see what he does in Thor: Ragnarok, and Avengers: Infinity War afterwards. I will give Doctor Strange a final score of 8.5/10.

What did you think of the film? Are you excited for Thor: Ragnarok? Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks for reading,

Alex Martens

Categories: Reviews

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