Film Review: Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange

Marvel’s Doctor Strange offers both entertainment and spectacle. The film distinguishes itself from others in the universe in an enjoyable but respectful way.

Doctor Stephen Strange is a renowned neurosurgeon in New York. When an accident leaves him with life-changing injuries, Stephen embarks on a journey hoping to be healed. He is drawn into a mystical world however…

Director Scott Derrickson swaps horror for comic book spectacle with Doctor Strange. The narrative trajectory is similar to that of other superhero movie. The protagonist suffers a traumatic event, and sets off on a journey to find healing and meaning. So far, so Batman Begins. The film is very much an origins story, detailing the journey from arrogant surgeon to superhero.

Where Doctor Strange differs from many comic book movies is in its depiction of the supernatural. Whereas many of the recent Marvel films have sought to explain the abnormal or superhuman, Derrickson’s film is unabashed in its use of magic. This is a refreshing change, and allows for much spectacle. The film focuses on wizardry and the occult, a stark contrast to the pseudo-scientific explanations of Spider-Man et al. In a way, the film is almost anti-science in its outlook. Stephen is not healed by the medicine he has made a career out of, but by opening his mind to the supernatural.

The protagonist is not immediately likeable, yet slowly grows on viewers. There is a feeling that Stephen needs to be humbled, which duly occurs. The film deals with some big ideas, looking beyond perceived reality. However, the humour is a nice counterpart to this. The visuals in Doctor Strange are very impressive. Special effects and production design are brilliant. There is a real sense of spectacle, this is aided by the use of 3D.

Benedict Cumberbatch puts in a befitting performance as Stephen Strange. He is ably assisted by Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, and Benedict Wong. Mads Mikkelsen is given little to do.

With an unexpected but welcome climactic scene, Doctor Strange seeks to differentiate itself from other Marvel films. A very likeable addition to the universe.

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