Doctor Strange, a visual feast undercut by inconsistent script


Poster courtesy of Marvel Studios

Benedict Cumberbatch as the titular Doctor Strange.

Seth Ritchie, Staff Writer

Doctor Strange, released Nov. 4, 2016, is the latest installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and follows Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) as he searches for a way to heal severe nerve damage in his hands but ends up leaning the mystic arts from The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton).

Doctor Strange is the first movie to bring full on magic into the MCU. The idea that some heroes, and villains, will not be restrained by physical limitations will hopefully continue to be as exciting in future titles as it is in this film. The magic fights present in the movie were exceptional to watch as it seems they were filmed through a kaleidoscope. The movie’s color palette is well envisioned, and the cinematography on display is top notch. Every actor in this movie does their job well, but Benedict Cumberbatch steals the show as the titular physician and sorceror. He plays the arrogant but brilliant angle of Strange’s character effectively, and he balances the character’s often rash behavior with his eventual humbling in the face of The Ancient One in a believable and entertaining way.

However, the movie suffers from multiple problems. The villain of the movie, Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), does not have nearly enough screen time to fully explore his character, and he ends up coming off as one-dimensional, despite Mikkelsen’s best efforts. While the dynamic between Strange and his ex Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams) is interesting, Christine is reduced to a passive side character, which is quite disappointing. The story is full of little inconsistencies that, while they do not detract heavily from the narrative, become annoying and tiresome if noticed. There is plenty of humor in the movie, but only a fraction of it actually works. Humor is thrown in needlessly in some very dramatic sequences, and it ends up diminishing the tension of them. The exposition of the movie was, for the most part, decently delivered, but it did get heavy handed at times. Also, without spoilers, Strange is given a magic item that will prove detrimental to the writers of future MCU films as it acts as a complete deus ex machina to most any situation. While the writers will probably find a way around Strange’s new toy, the introduction of such a powerful tool seems ill advised.

Doctor Strange succeeds and fails where most of its Marvel predecessors did. It boasts strong, charismatic performances and impressive visuals, but is undercut by needless humor, some misspent characters and plot inconsistencies. Fans of the MCU will be satisfied, but for those who have not enjoyed them up until this point, this movie will not convince them otherwise.