May 28, 2017

Movie Review: Doctor Strange

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons es:Marvel

By: Langdon Kessner ’17

Arts & Life Editor

Much like Pixar or Disney, Marvel movies have become an brand in and of itself. Their track record is consistent; they know their target audience, and their box office results are always profitable. When people go see a Marvel film, they know exactly what kind of movie they are going to get.  The same applies to the latest blockbuster, Doctor Strange.

Doctor Strange follows the transformation of Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) from brilliant neurosurgeon to sorcerer.  After a car accident destroys his hands, he travels around the world searching for alternative medicine to repair them.  Along the way, he meets The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), who teaches him the mystic arts. However, Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) has an agenda of his own and is set to wreak havoc upon the Earth.  

In terms of the film’s aesthetic, the visual sequences are incredible. When Strange is first transported into another dimension, it is scary, psychedelic, confusing and flat-out awesome.  And even though 3D has basically become a punchline over the past few years, this is a rare exception where 3D is actually worth the extra money.  It is immersive, exciting, and exactly what is to be expected from a movie with “strange” in the title.

The cast is solid, as Marvel movies tend to excel with their heroes. Benedict Cumberbatch is impossible not to love, and he strikes a perfect balance between brilliant narcissist and sympathetic outsider. Rachel McAdams does not have much to do outside of being the love interest, but she does very well with what she has. Tilda Swinton does excellent work as The Ancient One, who is a very tough nut to crack as she takes the character in directions the audience might not immediately suspect.  It is a wonderful performance performed by one of the most talented actresses.  

And the villain?  Meh. It is a good, menacing performance played well by the always reliable Mads Mikkelsen. But he probably could have benefited from a couple more minutes of screen time.  In fact, the whole movie could have used an extra twenty minutes to fully flesh out characters, motivations and the complicated world of dimensions and sorcerers.  Two hours is simply not enough time.  What is on the screen is intriguing enough, but more information would have been extremely helpful.   

Once again, Marvel has delivered a solid origin story with great action and likable characters, plot holes aside.  Is it their best work?  No, there is six or seven films I would put ahead of it, but Doctor Strange is still very enjoyable and teases future films that are sure to be worth seeing.      

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