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Movie Review: Doctor Strange (2016)


Minor spoilers should be expected.

Doctor Strange is the the fourteenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The movie is directed by Scott Derrickson and written by Scott Derrickson, Jon Spaihts and C. Robert Cargill. It's produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney.

The movie features an assemble cast of Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton, Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen, Benedict Wong, Michael Stuhlbarg and Benjamin Bratt, with Chris Hemsworth reprising his role as Thor in a short cameo.

Doctor Strange is an origin story for the Marvel character of the same name and is a comic-accurate portrayal(with minor changes, as to be expected) and it's been presumed to have taken place in the present time of the MCU chronology, possibly after the events of Captain America: Civil War, but the previous movies did not seem to have made an impact to the story of Doctor Strange and you can drop into it without having watched the others and not have any issues understanding what's going on. I would, however, definitely suggest you watch those as anyway because some of them are great movies. I'd even go as far as to say you can take some pals who don't watch superhero movies to this one because it does not really put an emphasis to that, it does well off as a movie of it's own.

The movie starts off by taking us inside the life of Stephen Strange(Benedict Cumberbatch), an acclaimed and exceptional neurosurgeon with a great life, who has an accident while texting and driving(don't text and drive folks, not even superheroes are safe to it) and loses proper control of his hands which render him useless as a neurosurgeon. After many failed attempts at experimental surgeries to fix himself, he finally decides to go to the Kamar-Taj after learning of, and meeting a paraplegic who was miraculously able to walk again despite being a hopeless cause. There, he is found by the sorcerer Mordo(Chiwetel Ejiofor) and is taken under the guidance of 'The Ancient One' (Tilda Swinton), who shows Strange her power, and while a bit hesitantly at first, begins training him. But soon Strange learns that it's bigger than just himself and has to fight a massive threat without being ready, which comes under the face of Kaecilius(Mads Mikkelsen), a rogue sorcerer who had also trained under The Ancient One but had given into darkness along with his devout followers, who threaten the existence of the world itself in their plans. 

The story of the movie is quite simple and has been seen before, with a lost man finding himself a new purpose in life, getting trained in arts and devoting himself to a purpose larger than himself. But the way the movie presents this rather simple tale, is absolutely fresh and gives it new life.

The movie is well structured, story progression is great, all the actors portray the roles well with, to no surprise, Benedict Cumberbatch stealing the show. Benedict as Doctor Strange is without a doubt one of the best comic-book portrayals in live action, he is perfect as the character and it feels like Doctor Strange himself is the one we're watching on-screen rather than an actor. While the random diversity was unnecessary(Asian male to a white female, for example), it does not make any difference at all and all supporting actors acted well and were surprisingly given good screen time and felt a part of the main story rather than just being there.

The movie also incorporates humor into the plot without making it look comedic, forced or unnecessary. Every joke is executed cleverly and does not affect the flow of the moment. And if anyone was wondering, yes. Marvel is well aware of the Sherlock fandom and even added a clever yet hard to miss easter-egg in the movie. And with Benedict playing another exceptional-at-what-he-does character with an ego, fans of Sherlock will feel right at home with the character.

Perhaps one of the strongest points of the movie(and I would really recommend the movie to be watched in 3D for the full experience), are the visuals. The movie is absolute eye candy. Seeing the characters transcend between the realities and dimensions, the spells, the entire environment shifting, changing and molding to the mercy of the sorcerers, was a visual treat and one of the strongest points of the movie that make it such a rich and fresh experience to watch, taking you to a psychedelic trip that you'd be hooked on. The 3D only makes it all even better and Doctor Strange is one of the better movies I've seen that optimize the potential of 3D without over or misusing it.

The soundtrack of the movie was good, and fairly different(thankfully) than the usual tunes you'd hear in a typical superhero flick from Marvel, although it kind of has a Star Trek vibe to it(not in a bad way), unsurprisingly since they both have score from Michael Giacchino. It fits in perfectly with the movie's atmosphere and the sound effects themselves worked beautifully with the mystic arts and reality shaping as it happens, catching up perfectly with the quality of the amazing visuals.

The movie overall, is very well made. The story, although simple, is decent, the visuals are fantastic, the music fits in perfectly, the acting is good, even the post-credit scenes expanded the story. The movie hardly gives you anything to pick on, but I do have one thing to discuss.

I, and many others, felt that Mads Mikkelsen as Kaecilius was perhaps not the best choice. He portrayed the character well, as was to be expected of him, but the character itself was not that special. It was a generic baddie who serves a bigger bad and threatens the world's peace, no special personality to him and did not have any special impact. So an actor as good as him should've been saved for a role that had a deeper impact.

As well as casting Scott Adkins as a simple bad guy(yeah, he was actually in the movie if you look close enough). Scott Adkins may not be an Oscar winner but he's criminally underrated. He's a great martial artist and has worked in tons of movies(Undisputed 3 being his rise to fame), and I really believe they should've kept him for a bigger role in another movie. He is a great fighter and a recognized face, and I would've loved to see him have a longer, more serious role than just a bad guy Doctor Strange encounters and wouldn't be returning again.

That said, the casting was great otherwise and everyone had a fair relevancy to the plot.

Final Verdict:

Doctor Strange is an 8 out of 10

Living up to the hype and expectations, Doctor Strange is an excellent and entertaining movie, and a worthy addition to the live-action superhero movies pile-up of this year.

I would specifically recommend Doctor Strange to be viewed in 3D to completely experience it's amazing visuals, and you'll be getting lost into a psychedelic ride that will keep you hooked until the screen goes blank.

Muhammad Junaid

Muhammad Junaid is the writer of Entertainment Ghost. He writes articles, reviews, previews and entertainment news about gaming, technology, the media and so on. You can follow him on Twitter @Mr_MJunaid and Facebook MJunaid

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Published On Entertainment Ghost At Friday, November 11, 2016