Based on: “Doctor Strange” by Steve Ditko
Director: Scott Derrickson
Writers: Scott Derrickson, C. Robert Cargill and Jon Spaihts
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams, Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Mads Mikkelsen
Release Date: November 4, 2016
Runtime: 1 hour, 55 minutes
Rating: Rated PG-13 for “sci-fi violence and action throughout, and an intense crash sequence.”
Plot Summary: “An arrogant surgeon’s career is destroyed, but he is then offered a chance to defend the universe as a powerful sorcerer.”
I knew before I even set foot into Marvel’s “Doctor Strange” (2016) that it was not going to be better than “Deadpool” (2016) or “Captain America: Civil War” (2016); the absolute awe that I felt when I watched those two films is unlike anything I have ever felt when watching a superhero movie and it is going to be a long, long time before a superhero movie impresses me as much as those two did. I was correct in assuming that “Doctor Strange” is not better than “Deadpool” or “Captain America: Civil War”, but before I explain why it is not, I want to clarify something:
In no way, shape or form is this a bad movie. It is quite the opposite actually.“Doctor Strange” is a psychedelic, trippy and immensely entertaining flick that serves the splendid Marvel formula of humor, wit, charisma, romance, drama, and action to audiences. Benedict Cumberbatch has kept his streak of never disappointing me by displaying the charisma, intelligence and power (both actual and spiritual) or Dr. Stephen Strange. His co-star, Tilda Swinton also gleams in this film as the wise, cunning and dynamic Ancient One who guides Strange on his spiritual journey. Lastly, this film’s visual effects are indescribably amazing; there is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that “Doctor Strange” will receive a nomination for “Best Achievement in Visual Effects” at the upcoming Oscars because the color, artistry and genius that is shown in this film’s visuals is right up-to-par with Marvel’s previous visual masterpiece, “Guardians of the Galaxy” (2014). That just about covers the pros of “Doctor Strange” which now brings us to the cons:
The plot is centered around an arrogant, egotistical and selfish man who learns to become more benevolent and sympathetic after a life-changing event unfolds on him. Does this plot sound familiar to anyone? If you are a fan of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) it should because that is the exact plot basis for “Iron Man” (2008) and “Thor” (2010). The story of “Doctor Strange” is fairly uncreative which really disappointed me because I truly believed that “Doctor Strange” would, at least, provide audiences with a creative story and it definitely did not. Recycled plot devices from “Iron Man”, “Thor”, “Regarding Henry” (1991) and many other films are ruthlessly utilized to drive the story which lessened my liking for it.
Furthermore, I did not really buy Mads Mikkelsen’s or Chiwetel Ejiofor’s performances; they both seemed uninterested and uninvested in the film because they gave off such bland performances. Their acting is nothing to boast about, their backstories of their characters are (like the main plot) unoriginal and uncreative, their characters lack motivation(s) and their characters are not investing enough; Marvel’s recent hit, “Captain America: Civil War” did an excellent job of making the audience invested in characters by making Black Panther/T’Challa, Spider-Man/Peter Parker, Iron Man/Tony Stark, Captain America/Steve Rogers, The Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes, Scarlet Witch/Wanda Maximoff and even the villain, Baron Zemo have motivations that the audience can understand and sympathize with. The actions of Ejiofor and Mikkelsen in this movie are not understandable and I definitely did not sympathize with them. I wish they had put more effort into making these two characters relatable for audiences.
The last problem I have with “Doctor Strange” is that the script is chocked full of “mumbo-jumbo”. What do I mean when I say that? There are so many painfully protracted, boring and drawn-out pieces of dialogue, monologues, motivational speeches, and set-ups that do not contribute to the story or characters’ developments. The beginning of the film is a bunch of medical terminology that you will not understand unless you are a five-or-plus year medical student and then you get the monologues and banter about spirituality and astral projection before you move on to cheesy dialogue between McAdams and Cumberbatch about love and arrogance (their relationship/chemistry is absolutely pathetic in this movie, by the way) and then the movie ends with more spirituality and astral nonsensical dialogue. This is definitely not one of Marvel’s best scripts and it is certainly not something I could see a child superhero fan enjoying.
I am going to give “Doctor Strange” a “B”. Cumberbatch and Swinton give good performances, there are some cool and trippy visuals, it is entertaining and interesting, but it does have major problems that are preventing it from being one of Marvel’s best in my book. I would recommend it to fans of Cumberbatch or any of the other cast members and fans of Marvel movies (or superhero movies, in general) because it is definitely an excellent superhero flick.
*P.S.* – I have seen many websites claim that “the end credits scenes at the end of ‘Doctor Strange’ are the best Marvel has ever done” and “these are the two most important Marvel end-credits scenes ever”, but unlike these websites who are looking for attention and subscribers, I am going to be honest with you and say that the end credits scenes are nothing to get yourself worked up over. As a matter of fact, I would recommend skipping them and looking up a description of their contents online because they are not worth staying the extra time for.