Review: Doctor Strange

Stranger Than Your Ordinary Superhero Movies

It’s not an easy task to introduce a new character in a universe that’s packed with superheroes whose character’s already developed. It’s even harder for people to remember the movies itself while committing few new stories to their memory every year. Doctor Strange, fortunately, has a certain quality that makes it stand out in the superhero genre crowd: strangeness. Using special effect and CGI that resemble M. C. Escher works, the movie is a visual splendour that satisfies the thirst of a mind-bending display. It’s true that the visual has been done before in Inception and the movie may take inspiration from it. But Doctor Strange manages to multiply and varies the amount of absurdity, making it a jaw-dropping display of surrealism.

Before his transformation into the Sorcerer Supreme, Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a reputable neurosurgeon who’s at the peak of his life. Arrogant, snob, and self-centred, he’s a picky surgeon who only accepts patients that challenge his skills. He has almost everything within the reach of his hands until a fateful car crash shatters the illusion of his perfect life. The accident causes him not be able to use his hands properly and it effectively destroys his career and life. To find the cure for his hands, he goes to Nepal where he meets Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and his master, the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), who acts as the Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme. Through the training taught by the Ancient One, Strange starts to learn the mystic arts and the hidden side of the world.

Plot-wise the movie bears a resemblance to Iron Man and Batman Begins. It’s a story about a man’s downfall and his attempts to redeem his past by going to a spiritual journey that leads him to a new path, just like Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins. It’s also hard not to be reminded of Iron Man when I watch the movie. With his big ego, high status in the society, and even his goatee, Stephen Strange is basically Tony Stark-lite, minus the collection of Iron Man armour. Besides some easter eggs and references to future movies, there is nothing really special about the story. It’s just your usual MCU origin story; a solid base for future sequels and crossovers. But it’s nice to see that the movie is lighthearted and funny like the rest of MCU movies.

We all have heard the story of Marvel executives who delayed the production of the movie just to get Benedict Cumberbatch on board. I have to say that their effort is paid off with his excellent performance as Stephen Strange. He is rude, fierce, and has a good sense of humor which helps elevate the mood of the movie. Although there are many controversies regarding the casting of the Ancient One, Tilda Swinton is enchanting in and delivers a great performance. Chiwetel Ejiofor as Mordo is great as well in portraying a wavering hero. I’m a little bit disappointed, however, that Mads Mikkelsen’s villain character, Kaecilius, doesn’t have much spotlight. He’s menacing and fun to watch but doesn’t have room to improve with his two-dimensional character.

Doctor Strange is another good entry to the ever-expanding world of Marvel Cinematic Universe. The movie does a good job in delivering the origin story of Stephen Strange with its humor and lightheartedness. But the main attraction of the movie is its psychedelic and mind-bending spectacle that becomes a perfect media in introducing people to the mystic world in MCU.


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