The beginning of the Sorcerer Supreme.
With Doctor Strange, Marvel Cinematic Universe has released its 14th film! It’s great that after 14 films, the studios still manage to introduce us new characters and concepts. While the film is so far one of the most visually pleasure superhero film ever, I can’t help but feel the film’s structure is overly familiar.
The film stars Benedict Cumberbatch as the brilliant, but arrogant surgeon Doctor Stephen Strange. After a car accident, Strange’s hands are damaged and can no longer do surgeries. Refuse to accept his fate, Strange tries all kind of methods to repair his hands, but nothing works. This is until he goes on a spiritual journey to a place called Kamar-Taj, and encounters the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton). The Anicent One shows Strange the mystical way, and he quickly overcomes the skepticism and becomes her newest student.
Like I mentioned above, the film is overly familiar in structure, as it features an arrogant guy who needs to be brought down a peg to become better. Almost like Iron Man from eight years ago. The spiritual journey, while not seen in the MCU, has been down in other superhero films already (Batman Begins). It’s a classic superhero origin story, but I thought I read somewhere that Doctor Strange is not supposed to be an origin film? Maybe they changed their mind. Anyway, it makes sense for Doctor Strange to be an origin film, since not many people are familiar with the character. I just really hope the film doesn’t feel so familiar. It even has all the Marvel films weakness, including the main villain is seriously underused.
In fact, Doctor Strange might be the one Marvel film where all the supporting characters are seriously underused. None of them have an actual character arc, and even Mordo’s (Chiwetel Ejiofor) decision to go dark wasn’t fully explore either. Going back to the villain, Mads Mikkelsen’s Kaecilius seems like a promising villain at first, and him and Cumberbatch have some fun interactions. However, the film never further explore the character, and his backstory with the Ancient One.
Benedict Wong’s Wong (lol) is a great character too. He shows a lot of promises, but the character falls short too and didn’t have much to do in the final showdown- we will talk about that more in a moment. Meanwhile, Rachel McAdams is in the film too as Christine Palmer, a fellow doctor and love interest for Strange. The character is likeable, but she ends up not doing much but a funny reactions to the mythical things happening around her.
In fact, the film felt rushed. The pacing is fast; the story is familiar; the characters are underdeveloped and many elements are not properly played on. It almost feel like Marvel just want to add Doctor Strange to the MCU, and they have to rush a film quickly. But not gonna lie though, it is still refreshing to see a standalone film taking place in the MCU, like Ant-Man before, away from Iron Man, Captain America and others. While Marvel cannot help themselves but connect this film to the bigger picture of MCU, at least they did it in a tasteful way that didn’t really break the illusion. Also, it’s good to see another infinity Stone.
The final boss fight is really a mixed bag. In one hand, it is a really unique way to take on the film’s final boos. On the other hand, the final boss the legendary Dormammu, someone who deserve more screen time than something underwhelmed and silly like that. And like I said before, most characters are underused in the final fight, and this is especially the case for Wong, who seems to deserve a much bigger role than what happened here. Well, at least it seems like he knows what’s the deal of Infinity Stone is, so he might come back in the future films.
What makes Doctor Strange unique and strong are the visuals. The “Inception” like world-bending imagery here is really awesome, and the film does a great job refreshing the already familiarized superhero genre. Also, the scene where The Ancient One shows Strange the way is one to remember. It’s a really trippy one where we get to see all different aspects of multi-dimensions. Please watch the film in IMAX, this scene alone will make the experience worth it.
Overall, Doctor Strange is an over familiar film that plays too much on the superhero genre. It comes with all the goods and bads of a typical Marvel film. However, the unique visual really brings the film to its own, and a lot of potential for the future.