Marvel appears to be on a roll. The studio’s films have not seemed to disappoint. At least they have not disappointed me. At this point, Marvel’s “Doctor Strange” has been out for more than a month and has made over 220 million dollars. As I’ve mentioned before, I am not really up on comic books and I know very little about the Doctor Strange character, but I (as always) will give an honest review of how I view the movie as a whole from a filmmaking standpoint.
Doctor Strange tells a mystical story with just enough thought and “eye candy” to keep the viewer interested. This film is an origin story that, by my calculation, fits into the Marvel Universe some time around Captain America: Civil War, as Stephen Strange is mentioned in the film. This film gives insight to the character’s origin.
As the film opens, we are treated to an exciting action sequence that sets the events rolling as the bad guy steals something that could possibly result in some very bad things happening. This of course leads us to the introduction of the heroic main character. Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbacth), with a sense of arrogance, is a brilliant neurosurgeon who relies on his skillful hands and professional skills to carry him through life. One evening, he becomes the victim of a vicious car accident resulting from his fast, reckless driving. He is faced with the possibility of never practicing medicine again because of the massive nerve damage done to his hands. Desperate for any nuance of hope, he discovers a place where he could heal himself. So he travels to Nepal to train under a teacher known as The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton). While there, he also meets a disciple, Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), and befriends him as Strange learns how to use mystic powers to bend reality and control time.
The action moved along at a decent pace. This was done with a skillful use of montages, imaginative scenery, and provoking dialogue. I felt the story never faltered and the action never seemed forced or trite. It flowed well all the way to the climactic showdown with Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), and then Dormammu, a powerful cosmic entity.
This film was driven by highly effective special effects. Too often in special effects driven films, the story and characters suffer and are not fully developed. Here, they become part of the story and add the magic and excitement of the film. At times though, the effects appeared to be something from Christopher Nolan’s Inception, or sometimes characters running about through a landscape designed by M. C. Escher, but still they seemed imaginative and original to the film.
Scott Derrickson directed the film and also co-wrote it along with writers Jon Spaights and C. Robert Cargill. Famed Marvel producer Kevin Feige helmed that role once again. The filmmakers put together a film that was entertaining and they understood how to blend the elements of storytelling together seamlessly. This is another solid showing from Marvel that is continuing to build the foundation to its ever-expanding superhero universe.