Doctor Strange (2016)
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Michael Stuhlbarg
Directed by: Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose; The Day the Earth Stood Still; Sinister; Hellraiser: Inferno)
Synopsis: A strange doctor ruins his peculiar hands in a bizarre car accident so he must do offbeat battle with odd enemies to stop a weird being from taking over our unusual world.
- The nature of the story being embroiled in mysticism is a refreshing change from the stale superhero genre, much like the space-themed Guardians of the Galaxy and forbidden brotherly love theme of Thor: The Dark World.
- The cast is great. Benedict Cumberbatch was born to play Doctor Strange (legally, in one of the strangest births on record). Mads Mikkelsen is a great actor but basically plays Le Chiffre again with burnt purple eyes instead of one bleeding eye. Tilda Swinton is very good in her least-creepy role to date. Chiwitel Ejiofor is probably the best actor in this, but his character only seems to be there to set himself up for the sequel. Michael Stuhlbarg has two scenes, even though he’s one of the most underrated actors alive. Benedict Wong and Rachel McAdams are also there at varying levels of necessity.
- I couldn’t be more over digital effects at this point, but they really work here. Obviously you can’t do swirling magic symbols around the hands practically. The city folding in on itself looked cool but got to be a little overblown.
- [SPOILER] The time-looping climactic battle between Dr. Strange and demigod Door Ma’am Moo was fantastic. But I’m a real sucker for time loops. Even though I didn’t love Looper. Maybe I should go back and revisit it.
What doesn’t work:
- Strangely enough, for a movie that makes a big deal out of controlling time, it doesn’t control time very well. During Strange’s magic training, there’s really no way of telling how much time has passed. It honestly just seems like a few days, because when he goes back to his lady love, she’s still pissed at him over the big fight they had, and doesn’t say anything like, “Where have you been the past two years??!” Also, I don’t know if this is maybe something I just missed, but the opening scene has Mads Mikkelsen (playing Cole Sillyus) stealing pages from a spell book so he can use them to summon Door Ma’am Moo, and then we get into Strange’s story, and he goes through all his training before Cole Sillyus really ever does anything with the spell pages. What was he waiting for? Unless it really was just a matter of days. But that’s all it takes to master the mystic arts? And that’s another thing, it all seems to come a little too easily to Strange. There are a few montage scenes of him struggling with his powers, but once he opens his first portal it’s pretty much game over and he’s the most powerful guy there.
- [SPOILER] If the wizards knew that the Eye of Agamemnon was an infinity gem, couldn’t they have used it at any “time” to stop Cole Sillyus?
Overall: Despite a few nitpicks, I enjoyed this picture a lot more than the usual superhero fare these days. Maybe you’re not as burned out on superheroes as I am, or maybe even more so, but despite all the MCU tying in they have to do, it feels like its own thing and stands well by itself, like you’re just watching a good sci-fi movie instead of the same old punch-laser-explode, although there is a lot of that. But the fresher approach of magic and mysticism levels all that out for an enjoyable romp that I’d recommend it to pretty much anyone, although it’s not as good as the little seen 1996 classic Dogtor Strange.
Score: 8 Ruined Fingers (out of 10)