Review: Doctor Strange


Marvel Studio’s latest building block in its cinematic universe is Doctor Strange, their first introduction to the mystical and magical side of Marvel.

With a run time a little under 2 hours, Doctor Strange gets right to Strange’s origin story and the wizardry.

Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a neurosurgeon that is as gifted with his hands as he is cocky and self centered. After a car accident injures Strange’s hands, he’s unable to continue as a surgeon. His search to heal his hands leads him to the Karma-Taj where he meets the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton). After Strange is shown other dimensions and astral projection, he begs to Ancient One to teach him her ways.

After Strange begins his training, he learns what the Ancient One and her students are responsible for. They’re part of one of three sanctums that use magic to protect Earth from unseen dangers – the kind of threats you can’t call the Avengers for.  The latest threat is a former student of the Ancient One named Kaecillius (Maz Mikkelsen) who plans to use the mystic arts to summon the Dark Dimension.

Alongside Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Wong (Benedict Wong), a barely trained Doctor Strange must use what magic he knows to help defend the sanctum and Earth from Kaecillius and his followers.

Doctor Strange is a visual masterpiece. The visual effects alone make the film an experience worth seeing in theaters.  The trailers give off a heavy Inception vibes, but the effects are a lot more than houses turning and streets folding. The film showcases different dimensions, magical wormholes, and a flying cape. Some how, it all looks seamless onscreen. They really set the bar high for what special effects should be in a superhero movie.

Benedict Cumberbatch is perfectly cast as Doctor Strange. There was no doubt Cumberbatch could pull off being a condescending jerk (Sherlock).  The real magic in his performances comes during the comedic moments and action scenes. Cumberbatch isn’t “Sherlock doing magic in a superhero movie.”. He adds some heart, restraint, and curiosity to Strange that make him his own character. Cumberbatch and his brand of dry humor are a great addition to the MCU.

Even without all the sorcery and special effects, Doctor Strange is one of Marvel Studio’s best origin stories. Dr. Stephen Strange’s journey from arrogant surgeon to peaceful protector could be its own movie in the vein of David Carradine’s Kung Fu TV show. The past few movies have been a little serious and this is a return to the fun/silly side of Marvel that made people fall in love with 2008’s Iron Man.

Doctor Strange’s best magic trick is making a Doctor Strange film that can be consumed by a large audience. Marvel Studios ability to turn every character they touch into a billion dollar franchise is incredible.

Also, there’s two post credit scenes after the film. Don’t run to the bathroom quite yet.

Grade: B+