In preparation for Dr Strange’s second solo(ish) MCU movie, we thought we’d take a look at Strange’s MCU debut in the first Dr Strange movie.
Let me start off by saying that as a child, I’ve never been interest in or a fan of Doctor Strange. If you follow any of the social media accounts of my podcast, The Captioned Life, you’ll know that I don’t really make that a secret. I remember being introduced to him in the comics and I never really cared for the magical world of the mystic arts that he lived in.
But you also know that I try as much as possible to review films and shows objectively as well. And you may be surprised to hear me say that Doctor Strange is not only a good movie, but in terms of visual effects (VFX), it’s probably the best film that Marvel Studios has created in this area (so far – I’m sure the sequel will give it a run for its own money).
Although technically Doctor Strange was introduced into the MCU in a one liner from Captain America: The Winter Soldier, this is the first formal introduction we get to the character whose world is vastly different than any other character we’ve had in the MCU so far. This would prove to be an interesting story for the MCU in many ways that has now made its way into becoming a cornerstone of the next phases of the MCU with the introduction of the multiverse. The film presents the story of Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) in a way that of itself is not that exciting or different than what we’ve heard of before; a cocky, world-known expert who experiences a traumatic event that would change the course of his life by making him a cocky, world-known expert in another field (sound familiar?). Even though his story was supposed to be one of humility and redemption, it doesn’t play out here very well on screen in my opinion. But what I do find more interesting is the world of mystic arts he (and the audience) gets introduced to by The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton).
Although we get a glimpse of the world that the sorcerers live in, we don’t get to fully understand how their magical spells work or the rules that abide them other than they serve to protect the natural law. But as an audience member, I didn’t feel like we needed to. The writers did a good job of explaining the world without letting the details bog you down and distract you from the movie, and that’s good (after all, we don’t really know how magic works in Harry Potter films other than the fact that it works, right?). I think they did a phenomenal job of telling this multiverses world to the audience as an introduction to the multiverse as an idea that in a way is interesting, engaging, and has some great visual photography that we haven’t really seen before from other MCU films. The magical charms and spells draws you in every time they are used, and they look as real as you think a mystical effect would look in real life. They created world manipulation that is reminiscent of what we’ve seen in the film Inception but visually better in that regard. The magical artifacts that can be used as weapons served as a great visual story for the audience. Overall, the VFX is the best thing about this movie and it will continue to be successful as long as MCU keeps building on top of its success and not letting it get stale.
The acting in the film was overall fantastic. With a line up like this, it was going to be hard to have it fail as a film. They all brought the characters to life and although Marvel Studios changed the character identity and origin of The Ancient One (and received a lot of criticism for it), Tilda Swinton did a great job of making the character her own. The only major acting criticism I have is the person who portrayed the physical therapist that told Doctor Strange about the miraculous Fangborn. I’m not sure if it was his first time on screen or if that day was just a bad day for him, but I wasn’t convinced that he was an actual person. It may have been why he was only in it for a total of 20 seconds.
Although the character and his story are not interesting to me, I can't see anyone doing a better job of Doctor Strange than Benedict Cumberbatch. But this film will also continue to be the golden standard for VFX in future MCU films.
Something Strange: Doctor Strange (2016)
- Writing - 9/109/10
- Storyline - 8/108/10
- Acting - 9/109/10
- Music - 10/1010/10
- Production - 10/1010/10
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