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Doctor Strange movie review

Grade: B+

I’ve been reading comics all my life but I’m not sure if I’ve ever read a Doctor Strange one. The Strange character was very popular in the 1960s and 1970s but in the 1980s and 1990s he was a C-level character at best. So I come at the latest Marvel movie Doctor Strange with a bit of a lack of knowledge on the character or how he should act. But Marvel has such a great track record with their films that regardless of how familiar I am with any of their characters I wanted to checkout Doctor Strange no matter what — but not enough to actually see it in the theater so I ended up picking it up on digital when it first became available last week.

Doctor Strange poster

Doctor Strange poster

Benedict Cumberbatch plays the title character Dr. Stephen Strange who, after an accident, loses the fine use of his hands and his entire surgical career as well. On a quest to find any solution that might fix his predicament, Strange ends up in Nepal where he stumbles upon an ancient sect of sorcerers. And after some training Strange becomes a sorcerer himself and ends up in the middle of a gigantic battle between good and evil. One one side is Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) who’s group is trying to open a gateway to let the malevolent alien god Dormammu conquer the Earth. On the other side is the “Ancient One” (Tilda Swinton) and other sorcerers like Strange trying to stop them.

The more I read what I just wrote the more I realize how thin the story of Doctor Strange really is. I’m not saying that the movie’s bad, it’s just doesn’t have a lot of real depth. What depth there is comes from the Strange character going from self-centered neurosurgeon to selfless sorcerer as well as Kaecilius and his reasoning behind trying to open the gateway for Dormammu. But otherwise, Doctor Strange is a standard good guys vs. bad guys who are trying to destroy the planet story that is the central theme of so many sci-fi/comic book movies these days. It’s a very good version of that kind of movie, but regardless it’s the standard 21st century comic book movie plot none-the-less.

It doesn’t help matters that large parts of Doctor Strange do feel like they were taken from other films like the folding cities of Inception to a serious Harry Potter vibe as well. Though, admittedly, it is hard to tell whom was borrowing from whom since all the stuff that happened in the Doctor Strange movie could have already happened in the 50+ years of Doctor Strange comics.

All that being said I enjoyed the Doctor Strange movie a great deal. Marvel movies are all paced really well and there was never a time during the film that I felt bored or that I could pause it and come back to the movie later. Someone should do a study on how Marvel movies are put together since they’re all structured to sheer perfection.

There are a few sequences in Doctor Strange that were new and unique, from Strange doing battle as his astral projection against another astral projection, essentially they’re ghosts, while he tries to help a doctor (Rachel McAdams) save his wounded body on an operating table to Strange battling Kaecilius and his zealots in a mansion and throwing them our special doors that at the turn of a knob leaves the people outside in far off deserts or forests in other parts of the world.

Ultimately, I’d say Doctor Strange is a successful comic book movie, if a bit typical of what’s come before.