Magic and Marvel Studios has been an aspect long avoided by the franchise, despite its dive into the Thor films and Asgardian history, much of those narratives seemed built around the idea of aliens and technology that seems like magic due to how advanced it is. With Doctor Strange we truly are taking a new step into the realm of “is it magic, or not?” and with the way it’s handled here, I can safely say it’s a success.
Doctor Strange follows the story of a surgeon named Stephen Strange who is involved in a car accident, permanently destroying the nerves in his fingers and rendering his career over. On a search for a cure he stumbles across a guild of sorcerers who may be able to help him reclaim his steady hand.
Benedict Cumberbatch leads this film playing Dr. Stephen Strange and practically embodies him, from his voice, candor, and overall look – Cumberbatch was without doubt the perfect casting choice for the sorcerer supreme. However, the thin character writing doesn’t allow much room for Cumberbatch to do much in this film. There are a lot of story elements that aren’t given enough elaboration to be fully understood, such as Dr Strange becoming one of the most powerful within the mystic arts in a short span of time or the overwhelming amount of students learning the mystic arts but don’t show up at all during the final act.
The humour is some of the worst I have come across in the MCU as made me clench up and recoil from some of the lines, in particular: “Try me, beyonce” – oof. In this film lies a weakly written script that is very confined by the MCU standards. The villain situation is a bit jumbled but Dormammu is meant to be an exceptionally powerful being in the Marvel world and I still cheated by how quickly he is thrown aside. Preferably, I would have liked Mads Mikkelsen character Kaecilius get the prime focus as the antagonist, purely because Dormammu is better suited for a major villain down the line.
The technical side of this film is outstanding with the visual effects creatively translating the “magic” in this film to a wondrous sight to behold; while it is repetitive the visual quality of the film seems to be the most prominent element discussed. The use of CGI is utilized incredibly well with arguably the best in the MCU and it does create for some interesting action sequences. The score composed by Michael Giacchino lacks any noticeable theme or unique sound which dampens the experience considering the concepts of the film, it should have had the use of a great score.
Overall, Doctor Strange falls within the formulaic realm of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Ultimately makes for a great visual spectacle but lost in the ways of poorly written dialogue, wincing humour and an origin film that feels far too familiar to be fresh or innovative. Doctor Strange acts like a bad trip – a beautiful fascinating visual spectacle but a groggy and diluted narrative that runs short of an absorbing experience.