By Emanuel Ortiz
Marvel’s newest entry, Doctor Strange, introduces a refreshing new character and also feels different than other superhero movies shown. However, it also has a weak villain and some awkwardly placed comedy.
Doctor Strange tells the story of Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) who, after experiencing an accident, is unable to use his hands to practice medicine. He believes that he is nothing without this, so he searches for a way to fix himself. He hears of a man who miraculously healed his back and sets out to find the one responsible, The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton). Once he finds her, he learns much more than he thought possible.
Now, the plot of the movie is actually pretty interesting. The origin story of this character is so different than those of other superheroes, which mostly seem to consist of having a dead parent or parent-related problems. He is just a guy, albeit rich (although that doesn’t have anything to do with his abilities), who is looking to fix his broken hands. Benedict Cumberbatch plays the character well, especially during the beginning half, where we get to see his cockier and more arrogant side. Tilda Swinton also does a fantastic job and steals every scene she is in. She really loses herself in the role and you believe her as this supreme sorcerer who has years of experience. Her actions scenes as well are amazing and have the best ones in the movie. Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Mordo, an apprentice of The Ancient One and partner to Doctor Strange in protecting the world. I thought Chiwetel did a good job portraying this character and, to be honest, remained the least stagnant by the end of the movie. Although Doctor Strange changed, I can’t help but feel as though he isn’t the most swell of guys to be around, similar to how he was towards the beginning of the movie.
Speaking of action, for the most part, it was really well done and I was always impressed by how much was going on in the background during them. There was one particular scene at the beginning of the movie which served as an introduction to the Ancient One, and it was visually stunning. That being said, there were a few scenes in this movie, one being an action scene, where the scene was ruined partly due to humor. I won’t go into detail but there was an action scene midway into the movie that felt cheesy at times because of the forced humor. This isn’t to say that the humor failed throughout the movie. There were some good laughs, but the bad ones stuck out more, unfortunately.
Mads Mikkelsen plays the villain Kaecilius, whose goal is to release an even bigger baddie named Dormammu who wants to take over the world or something. I was let down by Mikkelsen’s character, not because he did a poor job in portraying him, but because he wasn’t in the movie long enough for him to be more developed. His “development” as a character comes through what other people say about him. They say he was a student of the Ancient One, but was ultimately subdued to the darkness. This is never shown and is, in all honestly, a wasted opportunity. Kaecilius was a mirror to Doctor Strange in the sense that he was always questioning the Ancient One and thinking of different ways to go about their business, but this was never further explored. This would have translated so well to the scene in the second act where Strange and Kaecilius first meet. They have a talk and I think seeing this conflicted character’s backstory through flashbacks of some sort would have helped us relate more with him.
There are plenty of great scenes in the movie and the visuals are, in my opinion, worth the price of admission alone. It had an Inception-like feel to it, in terms of being able to walk up buildings, oceans splitting, and the world turning into a jigsaw puzzle with no two pieces attached to one another. It was very impressive and probably more so in 3D, which I didn’t have a chance to see but have heard it really ups the experience.
All in all, Doctor Strange and its introduction of magic is something different than previous superhero movies shown thus far. At times it falls due to its undeveloped villain and subpar comedy, but the stunning visuals and interesting adventure make it worth the watch.