Thursday, October 27, 2016


Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is one of the most successful neurosurgeons in the world, he care a lot about his job, but he is also an arrogant individual, with an enormous ego. When an almost fatal car accident deprives him of the use of his hands, Strange, left with no other opportunities, embarks on a journey to Asia to find out about one mysterious method a man told him about with which he regained the use of his back after a paralysis, yet there might be more to what he initially set out to do.

Doctor Strange has been one of the most enduring and interesting Marvel Characters of the past 50 years, taking part in almost every crossover story line in a key role. Marvel had the gargantuan task of condensing the iconic origin story and paying homage to the 50 years of lore in a single feature. Whilst the film doesn't quite manage to establish its world both singularly and as a part of the MCU, Marvel has delivered yet another flick full of fun, wonder, and rich characters.

What is remarkable about these films is to see how Marvel, even after all this time, is able to put out a product that first and foremost is about the filmmaking behind it and even more admirable is how this product always ends up being good. You always feel the effort of every single crew member and that is something really rare to find, it is such a pleasure and such a joy to see that the most successful studio of our times is driven firstly by passion and the will to tell good stories. It is something that always transpires through to the audience and is the reason why even with this film, which has its number of flaws, there is just a sense of great fun and storytelling that give all of these films an effortless engagement with the viewer.

Whilst it could have been cool to see a little more of the horror sensibilities, Scott Derrickson did a great job in bringing this tale to life. The casting first and foremost is pitch perfect. Mads Mikkelsen might not be given lots to do (that being due to story problems), but Cumberbatch shines high and owns the role from the first to the last frame, his addition to this universe is more than welcome. Yet, the stand out here is clearly Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One. This is ideal casting and the way Swinton brings the role to life is magical, she gives a touching performance with a real edge to it, that surprised me as much as I appreciated it; every second with her on screen was gold.

Moreover, the film does have quite the visual spectacle to spare and whilst I thought the action sequences were decent at best, the visual imagery employed in them was absolutely breathtaking and more than that, the non-action parts where Strange is catapulted in other dimensions during training were the best ones, with truly inventive visuals and flawless special effects.

Whilst I'll explain later why I find the script to be quite messy from a world building point of view, which ultimately undermines a lot of the story, I also can say that a great part of it was really well written, with edgy comedy, great character development and a very fluent narrative with essential plot. Moreover, the film has a fantastic sense of discovery engraved in it, you want to know more and more just like Strange does and it makes for a very gratifying experience to be taken on.

As I said, the film has quite a number of flaws and whilst as the movie went on, I was never taken out of the flow or the excitement, it is frustrating to see that this could have been a much better film. Sloppy pacing, anticlimactic finale, weak villain and poor logic are all problems the film has and I believe that they can all be traced back to one single problem or core flaw: mythology. There is just too murky of a world building going on, the mythology does not manage to establish itself to the audience in a rational and logical way and you are left with more questions than answers. I am the first one to say than not everything needs to be explained, but what the film needs is simply a rational understanding of the inner workings of the world and you are never given that. Not even with my comic book knowledge did I manage to understand how all of this fit together. There are many scenes of exposition and I love an exposition scene when it is done well, but when the character wants to discover as much as the audience, yet the filmmakers commit a mistake in using these scenes just to spit out a train of information, without organizing it and without giving an overall sense to the world, that's when it fails.

However, this is getting a little too nerdy, Doctor Strange is a great addition to the Marvel canon and I want to see more from this character and that is a sign that overall the film just was a great ride and a incredibly fun experience to have.

James's Score: 7/10

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