Length: 115 minutes / 1.92 hours
See if you can guess this movie: goatee’d egomaniac finds himself in a life-changing situation in a foreign land that makes him question everything he’s ever stood for and become a superhero in the process. If you guessed Iron Man (2008), you’d certainly be close. No, this familiar plot is none other than the visually extreme Doctor Strange. I understand Marvel has a bigger plot in mind when they do these lesser-known heroes; but lately, it almost seems like they’re just phoning it in. Doctor Strange merely feels like filler to get to Thor: Ragnarok (2017) and Avengers: Infinity War (2018).
I will give Marvel this much: they do know how to cast a film. Benedict Cumberbatch does a superb job at portraying the eponymous Dr. Strange, fused with enough gravitas and humor to make watching him a joy. And while many will question Tilda Swinton’s role as The Ancient One, especially considering the amount of Eastern mysticism included in the film’s theology, she certainly makes the role work in her own way. Even the sentient cape he wears has a personality I haven’t seen since the flying carpet in Aladdin (1992).
What Doctor Strange lacks in plot, it makes up for in special effects. I’m almost glad I didn’t see this in 3-D, as I’m sure I would have vomited from all the swirling kaleidoscope effects seen throughout. Clearly, even though it’s six years later, Christopher Nolan’s Inception (2010) made an impression on the film world when it comes to these reality-distorting effects. There were even moments where I could catch the influence of The Matrix (1999) on the special effects of this film, especially when the characters decided that gravity wasn’t good enough for them. Despite all this, even though I wasn’t high enough to fully enjoy some of the sequences, Doctor Strange was still an entertaining film.
A visually dazzling stepping stone in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I give Doctor Strange 3.5 stars out of 5.