Doctor Strange – When Weird Isn’t Weird Enough

Donovan Maudsley - 3N Mechanical
Posted on: November 5, 2016

Doctor Strange is a great movie. I’ve talked to as many people as I can about it and we all agree, it’s terrific. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect going in. Doctor Strange comics vary widely in both tone and quality. They’ve never been quite as funny as the movie, though. Before I get into that, let me just say that Marvel introduced a new opening banner in this movie. I do like the new one, but I feel that the change is unnecessary.

Marvel movies have found ways to stay new and fresh in the past few years. Doctor Strange recreates the wonder of Guardians of the Galaxy by using a separate corner of the MCU to tell its own story.  There are references to the greater story and the Avengers in general, but Doctor Strange is a movie about Doctor Strange.

One thing that stays true from the page to the screen is the initial arrogance of Stephen Strange. There was never a doubt in my mind that Benedict Cumberbatch could channel the same winning personality he puts on in Sherlock. Benedict is still playing is his in comfort zone, but he gives a standout performance. As an origin story, the movie focuses a lot of energy developing the good Doctor into a sorcerer, and many of the other characters aren’t fleshed out as much as they could have been. Watching Stephen’s transformation from a deplorable person to a hero willing to die again and again for the people of Earth refreshing.

Another excellent performance is given by Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One, Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme. The initial sequence sets her up as a force to be reckoned with, but there is also a charm and humour to her character. I also don’t think that many actresses could have pulled off the whole “completely bald” thing as well as she did. The majority of the plot revolves around secrets held by The Ancient One, and she provides the final push that Strange needs to take up arms and fight.

I try not to read too much about movies while they’re in production, but I hadn’t even heard that Mads Mikkelsen was a member of the cast. It was a pleasant surprise to say the least. Mikkelsen brings a truly menacing presence to the screen as the films main villain, Kaecilius. A disillusioned former follower of the Ancient One, Kaecilius seeks to tap into an untold evil to gain immortality. Typically not such a great idea.

The climactic sequence really broke ground for the MCU. There was the classic build up, the near inevitability of the end of the world, the villains were on the march, and then something completely different happened. Strange just left the fight. He took off to an entirely different dimension, and then essentially just talked things up. That’s all I can really say without giving everything away, but it was well crafted sequence that brought the movie to a satisfying end.

Overall the movie had a terrific tone, good pacing, and was just really fun to watch. There was constantly something new being thrown at the audience, whether it be an impressive CGI set-piece or a moral conundrum, so it might even be worth a second viewing. After everything was said and done, one of my favourite Avengers even showed up for a tea, I mean a beer(?), or two.