SPOILERS: You know, if there is one thing to complain about with Marvel movies is that they are cookie-cutter products with many of the same elements and problems featured in each film. Well as it just so happens, I really enjoy cookies, even when many of them are similar, that’s why you eat them because you know no matter what, you’ll enjoy that damn cookie. The only difference between each said cookie is the distribution of the chocolate chips. (Note: if you imagine raisins instead of chocolate chips, leave now you uncultured swine!) Now sometimes there may be too much chocolate or too little, or maybe even there are more chocolate chips on one side of the cookie than the other. The fact is if you enjoy chocolate chip cookies, you’ll find something to enjoy with the one you’re eating. That’s Doctor Strange. The cookie you’ve eaten before with a different arrangement of chocolate chips, but in the end, it’s still a cookie you enjoy.
I think one of the best elements of this film is the visuals. Like “Oh My God, My Mind Is Being Blasted with Crazy” type of visuals. These are some of the most imaginative images ever put to screen, even for a superhero movie. It will undoubtedly come under criticism for being like Inception, but let’s be honest, this movie is like Inception on acid, LSD, and any other combination of mind-bending drug imaginable. The take-away from this is that you should not see this movie on any of those said drugs, because you will have a mental breakdown in the theatre. I would also suggest you also see this movie in 3-D because I think it enhances the experience that much more. It’s also worth noting that despite the craziness of it all, the filmmakers do a very good job of keeping things clear and orderly without dumbing down the content.
Now for the story. It is indeed a typical Marvel origin movie, but I think it benefits from that because Marvel studios have done it so many times, it’s down to a science. Steven Strange is a brilliant neurosurgeon who gets in a car wreck that totally messes up his hands, meaning the end of his livelihood. Steven is a very arrogant man whose whole life revolved around the fact that he was the very best at what he did. Now that he’s lost that, Steven will go to any length to get his old life back, even if that means throwing away those who care for him most. That’s the basic set-up and if it sounds familiar, you’d be correct. Iron Man and Thor were both once overly arrogant individuals who get a reality check and rise above their own self-centered mind set for the greater good. Steven Strange follows this path as well. It’s been used and will be used again because it’s a story that works.
(One of the many magical abilities of Doctor Strange)
Benedict Cumberbatch delivers an excellent performance that manages to be self-centered but likeable, something only Robert Downey Jr. had mastered in the Marvel films. He wants to be the most person in the room, but in the name of helping people as a doctor, which is nice to see that this man uses his ego in the end to help people and does have a genuine interest in helping others, even if at times it’s to inflate his ego. Rachel McAdams is good as Christine, but really takes a backseat as more of a plot device. I wish there was a better use for her character, because McAdams is a great actress, but I also appreciate it didn’t go down the road of full on love interest. Chiwetel Ejiofor is probably the most interesting character outside of Strange himself because of where they could take the character of Mordo. I know Mordo is one of the main antagonists of the Doctor Strange comics, and he really has the potential of becoming a truly great villain like Loki if they continue down this path of ally turned villain for him. Speaking of villains, the bane of every Marvel movie is the villain. Kaecilius, played by Mads Mikkelsen, falls into the typical villain role. Don’t get me wrong, Mikkelsen is wonderful as the villain, but the story behind is boring and in true RPG fashion, the real villain, Dormammu, has too little screen time and explanation to really be an effective secondary villain. Finally, I won’t go into all the controversy behind the casting behind Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One, but she is pretty darn good as an Obi-Wan for Strange. Spoilers, she dies.
One thing I do really want to highlight was the comedy. While I feel like a lot of people will say it was hit or miss, I have to say I really enjoyed all of it. The problem was that it was too frequent. Like none of the jokes fell flat for me, but I think certain scenes would’ve benefitted from being played straight. That’s just me though.
In the end, this movie is simply another cog to add in the grand scheme of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A perfectly enjoyable movie on its own, but it’s hard to deny that this movie really serves as the next building block in the series. If you enjoy Marvel movies as is, you’ll enjoy this movie. If you have some serious concerns with how Marvel is producing their movies, then this one won’t change your mind, but I think Marvel has intentionally made their movies so widely appealing for that very reason. It’s like a chocolate chip cookie, even if it’s the same as the last one or has some chocolate chips (or lack thereof) in the wrong places, you’ll still find something to enjoy. I’ve never been one to turn down a cookie.