Movies for Breakfast DOCTOR STRANGE Review

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It’s time for the mystical arts to make an appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and no better to bring us there than Doctor Strange.

Synopsis

While on a journey of physical and spiritual healing, a brilliant neurosurgeon is drawn into the world of the mystic arts.

Review

Doctor Strange released in 2016 directed by Scott Derrickson and introduced the sorcerer supreme to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Doctor Strange is set in its own world without any real connection to the other movies, allowing it to tell its own story at its own pace. The movie introduces Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Karl Mordo, Benedict Wong as Wong, Mads Mikkelsen as Kaecilius, and Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One. The movie introduces the concept of the multiverse and the use of magic in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as well as the time stone.

Doctor Strange follows Stephen Strange, a highly skilled doctor, who after an accident has severe nerve damage in his hands making him unable to perform any surgery or even complete basic tasks. When he finds of a potential way to fix his hands he seeks out a place called Kamar-Taj where he learns the ways of sorcery. While it takes some time for him to be able to accept that this is all possible, Strange does manage to come to terms with the fact that these concepts which are crazy to him, are real. Being highly skilled at learning new things and backed by his photographic memory he can master spells that no one else is capable of except for the Ancient One. Elsewhere an old student of the Ancient One named Kaecilius has deemed it necessary to bring Earth into the Dark Dimension where time and physics no longer exist. This way he can live forever, not realizing the danger he is putting himself and everyone else into in the process.

Getting to see Stephen Strange train in the ways of a sorcerer are some fun moments, but this far into the Marvel Cinematic Universe the origin stories are starting to get old. As a result, the movie feels very slow paced, with some really nice effects and scenes throughout. There are some real jaw dropping levels of acid trip imagery going on in parts of this movie, and some nice world building and introduction to the multiverse are done. The slower pace of the film does not hold up though as a movie in phase three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Ant-Man as an origin story still feels more fast paced than this and gets to the real story and fun right away. With Doctor Strange the story doesn’t start to pick up for Strange until the movie is almost over. There seems to be too much time taken to get the actual plot of the movie started, and because there is so much focus on Stephen Strange the villain gets the tail end of the deal and ends up not getting enough development to even start to care about him.

Doctor Strange is a fun movie at times but does feel very central focused on the main character. Outside of Stephen himself very much screen time or development. Even Stephens relationship and love interest in the film barely gets any screen time and is only really in the beginning and a few short scenes in the middle of the movie. While the rest of the characters are interesting, their development comes in short bursts before being pushed to the background. There is some build up and plenty of room for these characters to get more development in the future. Because of this central focus the main villain of Kaecilius doesn’t come off as a threat at all, even though he is capable of using powerful magic without much effort. He should feel like a real threat to Stephen Strange, but he feels more like an annoyance to Stephen even when he is still learning and hasn’t mastered many techniques and is still very new to this world.


Closing Thoughts

Doctor Strange has some of the best visual effects used within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Sadly it doesn’t have the story or pacing to keep the movie going past that. With a subpar villain, side characters that are sent to the back of the line, and very slow build up of the story, this film is an easy one to forget about. While none of it is necessarily bad, none of Doctor Strange really sticks out past its visual. If going for a rewatch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe this one is iffy on its importance. It introduces a lot of concepts like the multiverse that will probably play a part in the future of the MCU at some point, but by that point we can hope it gets a better explanation possibly in Doctor Strange 2. For now though I would list this one under the skippable movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.