Scott Derrickson’s Doctor Strange (2016) Movie Review


Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton, Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen, Benedict Wong, Amy Landecker, Chris Hemsworth, Scott Adkins and Ala Safi
Writers: Scott Derrickson, Jon Spaihts, C Robert Cargill
Editor: Wyatt Smith
Cinematography: Ben Davis
Music Composer: Micheal Giacchino
Costumes: Alexandra Byrne
Director: Scott Derrickson

Heroes like the Avengers protect the world from physical dangers. We safeguard it against more mystical threats.

Fourteenth movie in Marvel Cinematic Universe, but they still has something very interesting to establish in Marvel Multiverse. Doctor Strange is the first Marvel film to introduce us to the world of Magic into the MCU. New character, New powers, New tricks, yet everything feels quite familiar. Though Visual Effects elevate it above others, it’s following the same superhero origin formula, seen many times before.

Created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, Doctor Strange made his first appearance in Strange Tales (#110 & #115) back in 1963 and since then, the character has played a pivotal role in Marvel Multiverse, most recently Hickman and Ribic’s Secret Wars, gave the Marvel Universe a soft reboot without completely dis-guarding all previous persistence, unlike DC Universe (#52) initiative. Directed by Scott Derrickson (who has come a long way since Hellraiser), ‘Doctor Strange’ tells the story of a brilliant, but chesty and egotistical neurosurgeon named Stephen Strange, played by Benedict Cumberbatch. Following a car accident, Strange loses the magic of his hands due to severe nerve damage. Unable to do what he does the best, the former doctor is driven to despair and spends most of his fortune on many experimental operations. All of them fail to heal his hands. With nothing left to lose, strange travels to Kathmandu, Nepal after learning that a paraplegic was able to mysteriously walk again upon returning from the place called Kamar Taj. During a mugging, he is saved by Karl Mordo (Ejiofor), a powerful sorcerer who agrees to take him to Kamar Taj. Seeing his desperation and persistence Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) relents to help. Strange advances quickly under the tutelage of the Ancient One, but a zealot Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) threatens Kamar Taj and Earth’s existence. A novitiate Strange is forced to battle with Kaecilius in order to stop him from summoning Dormammu, the lord of the Dark Dimension.

Marvel Studios is an exanimate machine (like a FLDSMDFR). It pumps out the same clichéd origin substance year after year, yet everyone is too afraid to upset the apple cart. Blindly following Marvel down the ever intertwining road can only take you do far. Eight years since the first Marvel Universe, and we get a film where the Strange-st character they boast has the most generic story ever. Nothing is truly gripping about this plot, or its below par dialogues, aside from how well Swinton and Cumberbatch do with what they were given. half-assed attempts at fun are common in MCU, which certainly makes a return in this effect less origin story which, ultimately leaves the film flat and uninteresting in large setting.

We don’t get to choose our time, Death is what gives life meaning. To know your days are numbered.  Our time is short.

Characters are also put into familiar roles. Doctor Strange is probably the least engaging Marvel hero. An arrogant character with a big ego and an arsenal of jokes is nothing new in these superhero films (reminds you of Ironman and Batman) and strange just doesn’t pull it off anywhere near the swagger that Robert Downey Jr Manages, the doctor comes off like a bit of stark lite. As usual villains are also weak, they don’t engage or infuriate you. That’s a major problem for a film that tries to get you involved in this mystical story. What a waste of actors like Mads Mikkelsen and Chiwetel Ejiofor, who feel like clichéd caricatures due to underwritten characters. They are over shadowed by Ancient One, played by Tilda Swinton, who commands attention with her presence and a firm dialogue delivery. Other characters do not impress: neither other wizards / humans, who doesn’t really do anything useful.

Because of the clichéd origin story, we can almost substitute Doctor Strange for Iron Man or Captain America without much changing. Director Scott Derrickson (known for Sinister), brings a visual flair that is the most unique thing of the Strange universe. It’s a kaleidoscopic, swirling trip that takes aspects from Nolan’s Inception, strange falling through dimensions from Antman and makes them all its own. While the final battle in particular is wonderfully engaging time loop nightmare that allows for Groundhog Day levels of fun. The major issue for Strange is the narrative itself. For such a vibrant, 3D shifting world Doctor Strange feels depressingly flat. Strange falls from arrogant surgeon to all conquering wizard is handled in a such way that’s hard to know where exactly he is in his training, one min he seems unable to achieve the most basic sling ring portal, the next moment he opens up portals in library, works on Eye of Agamotto’s powers, and even forfending three incredibly trained Dormammu’s associates. Moreover, Strange’s refusal to believing in Magic to begin with is sabotaged horribly by love interest Rachel Mc Adams‘s easy acceptance of it.. Music by Micheal Giacchino does reliably good work and Cinematographer Ben Davis deserves a lot of credit for not letting it swallow up the whole movie. Furthermore, this is the rare movie I’d actually advise to see in 3D Atmos.

On the whole, Doctor Strange is nowhere near Marvel’s best, and the enjoyment in Doctor Strange depends on how much you can tolerate the same superhero origin arc. If you have no problem watching a predictable and clichéd story, in upside down setting, then your money will be well spent. But for those who wait for something unique and fresh in superhero films, then this not worth.

PS: There are two post credit scenes, one during the end credits (tries to tie the future MCU) and another after end credits (Setting up for a sequel). Make sure to stay in your seat till the end.

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