What is it about? Doctor Strange is the 14th movie in the MCU, or the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and is based on the obscure comic character Dr. Strange. It follows the story of arrogant, but extremely successful neurosurgeon Dr. Stephen Strange, portrayed excellently by Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) , who loses his hands in a car crash. He tries all possible procedures to restore his hands, but ends up resorting to going to Kamar-Taj, a place in Kathmandu, Nepal, where he learns about a world of magic, sorcerers, alternative dimensions, time travel, and much more. Taught by “The Ancient One” (Tilda Swanton), he also learns that this magical society faces the threat of Dark Dimension and evil sorcerer Kaecilius. Also assisting him are Karl Mordo, played by Chiwitel Ejiofor, and Wong, portrayed by Benedict Wong. He has to choose either to go back to his old life of success or stay and help fight the Dark Dimension.
How is it? 8.5/10 The MCU has been on a hot streak, since it started and this movie does nothing to change that, maybe even landing in my Top 5. Doctor Strange is, above all, a great movie. While it may seem similar to previous MCU entries, particularly Iron Man in that it takes an obscure comic book character, casts them with a well-known actor, and gives them a character arc of “arrogant and successful” to “humbled and superpowered”, it still feels fresh, new, exciting, and strange (no pun intended) in all the best ways. However, sometimes the familiarity bogs the movie down a little, as the story is really quite similar to the first Iron Man. It follows Marvel tropes, as the villain isn’t too well developed and the arrogant guy’s assistant becomes a love interest that helps him fight the bad guy. The brilliant score by Michael Giacchino, which definitely adds to the content of the movie is also good. You don’t need to have seen all the previous MCU films to understand this one, but it may pay out more with some references to other Marvel movies.
How are the acting and characters? 9/10 Doctor Strange boasts great performances from its entire cast, with Cumberbatch acting spectacularly as the title character. He captures the arrogance, but charisma of Strange perfectly. Strange has a great character arc, and it’s definitely fun seeing him be so humbled by the possibility of these amazing powers and worlds. Also amazing in her role is Tilda Swanton as the Ancient One, and delivers an actually touching moment during the climax of the film, which you don’t always see in these kind of movies. Chiwitel Ejiofor is also awesome as cynical sorcerer Mordo, and Benedict Wong delivers both comic relief and, with Mordo, some serious butt-kicking. Sadly, Rachel McAdams doesn’t do much other than serve as a love interest for Strange and have a couple funny moments.
How is the action, special effects, and humor? 9/10 Doctor Strange has truly INSANE visuals, showing off the more magical and mystical element of the MCU, and a couple major set-pieces taking places in the Astral Realm, a place where your spirit is separated from your body, but I won’t give away too much. Let’s just say that this is worth the 3D, or even IMAX 3D ticket, and has jaw-dropping special effects, truly feeling like the $165 million blockbuster it is. Its action coasts off these effects, providing us with something different from the punch-happy fights of previous Marvel movies, but doesn’t go too far from the norm. This action is present throughout the movie, with the opening being one of these kinetic sequences. Finally, the movie has plentiful humor throughout, which always hits and never misses. And the comic relief isn’t just provided by a single character, with each character having their own moment.
Overall, Doctor Strange is a spectacular movie, with amazing visuals, awesome action, irreverent humor, great performances, and interesting characters.