Film Critic and Writer for ComiConverse.com, the Founder and co-host of the official Nerdcast Network Podcast
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Doctor Strange is out in theatres in the UK and our Lead Film Critic Jordan Samuel brings us the official ComiConverse spoiler-free review.
Film Review: Doctor Strange
Marvel has a great handful of superheroes that are not on the level of Captain America in popularity, but whose stories are just as epic. Doctor Strange is one of those characters who has been featured in some outstanding comic books, and in 2016 he gets his mind-bending live-action debut. The marvel cinematic universe has finally landed in the weird side with Doctor Strange, who uses his mastery of magic to defend the Earth from other, more dangerous, realms.
It seems like something which will change the MCU forever, but is it any good?
Find out as ComiConverse presents its official spoiler free review.
After Stephen Strange, the world's top neurosurgeon, is injured in a car accident that ruins his career, he sets out on a journey of healing, where he encounters the Ancient One, who later becomes Strange's mentor in the mystic arts.
With Marvel pumping out so many sequels and franchises, it’s always exciting to see them give another hero a shot on the big screen. Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man have shown that the Studio are not afraid to take risks with their more obscure IPs. So when Marvel Studios announced that Phase Three would see the debut of an Doctor Strange feature film, everyone was excited. Due to the characters, massive backstory and comic book story-lines. I was curious to see his addition to the MCU because of how much different his powers are when compared to their staple superheroes. As it would bring both magical and mystical elements into the expanded Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Doctor Strange is the most spectacular, strange and intelligent addition to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe since Iron Man (2008). Bringing a whole new landscape into their plans with some neat effects and characters expanding the rich lore.
Being much more laid back than the heavy hitting Captain America Civil War (2016), Scott Derrickson has created a wonderful piece of cinema. Scott having a massive knowledge about horror films, brings that intensity to the ever-growing MCU with scenes that literally tickling your nerves. Experimenting with visual thrills that make the journey so interesting, kind of like what we saw with The Matrix (1999) and Inception (2012) all those years ago.
Derrickson also directs his cast with so much care and attention unlike anything scene this year, It’s just spellbinding stuff. He introduces us to Steven Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) a famous surgeon who is injured in a car crash which damages his hands, as he searches for a cure. He encounters the Ancient One, who becomes Strange's mentor in the mystical arts.
The story here is more of an origin piece than anything else, setting up the newest superhero in town. Derrickson does well in making Steven Strange's journey feel fluid enough for the audience: giving in my opinion a great debut for a character whom many do not know much about. Many do feel like Marvel need to run away from origin stories, but I feel like this one was needed due to Steven Strange's unpopularity in media.
Benedict Cumberbatch is immense in the role as he embodies the arrogant surgeon so well. He is charming and reminds me allot of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) in the first Iron Man movie, something that is awesome to see. Doctor Strange was meant to be played be Cumberbatch as his line delivery is unmatched in the MCU landscape: I cannot wait for him to interact with the Avengers down the line. I was worried at first that he was going to act like Sherlock Holmes, but instead we get a brilliant take on Steven Strange. Fans that followed the original 1963 comic book, will be in trance with the portrayal years in the making. I couldn’t stop smiling when Cumberbatch is on screen just like how it was when watching Iron Man all those years ago to kick start this whole thing.
Tilda Swinton plays The Ancient One, a master of the mystical arts who guides Strange into the multiverse. She is wise and quite a presence to be felt throughout the run-time which was needed to make this new world come alive: being the standout addition to this picture. Swinton is just brilliant in the role, connecting with star Benedict Cumberbatch providing a sweet relationship on film unmatched to anything before it in the MCU.
Side characters Baron Mordo and Wong, are also neat in their roles here providing Strange a good group of support. I cannot wait to see them on adventures with the Doctor going forward because we get a good sense of them here. Rachel McAdams also plays Christine Palmer the human connection to Steven's past-life, McAdams is fine in the role which doesn’t give her much screen time. I’m interested in her character but hopefully we see her in future movies: because potential is honestly there.
Ancient One’s former protégé Kaecilius played by Mads Mikkelsen is the villain here, after stealing sacred texts from the One he sets out to destroy the planet.
I like Keacilius when compared to the villains added into the MCU lately: he is generic at heart but Mads brings some energy into the character. Kaecilius is on the level of red skull in Captain America the First Avenger who is very underrated, hopefully we see him return in future movies due to Mads great performance. Mikkelsen was not in the film much but he did add some gravitas to the role which could have been throw away, but at least Sherlock and Hannibal fans will enjoy their on-screen meet up.
The fighting cerography is like nothing else seen in the last decade very much influenced by The Matrix and Inception. The visuals are top notch and blasted me out of me seat into another realm. IMAX 3D is thhe only way to fully experience the wonderful spectacular shown in this picture: words cannot describe the effects in Doctor Strange. Michael Giacchino’s score is quite disappointing, but it never detracts from the impressive visuals featured in Doctor Strange. It's very strange how much of it sounds like a 1970's western movie - which does not fit with the epic nature of this film. I would have honestly rather Hans Zimmer's approach to superhero soundtracks instead here just for its added flare visuals.
Scott Derrickson has made a film which introduces the crazy elements of Marvel well and adds a beloved character into their universe. Performances are outstanding bringing everything together for a fun movie theatre experience for the audience.
Jordan Samuel is a Film Critic for ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @JordanESamuel
Doctor Strange is the best standalone Marvel film since Iron Man all those years ago, and proves again that the MCU is a great franchise for pushing unknown IPs to the forefront.