Doctor Strange: Readers’ Review, Film Companion

By Abdul Ahad

Marvel has consistently managed to remain a critical darling since the inception of its Cinematic Universe. While this has turned it into a billion-dollar franchise, it has also led to the company sticking to a tried and tested formula when it comes to origin stories for their heroes.

This formula is heavily evident in the character arc of the protagonist. Benedict Cumberbatch is in every way as arrogantly egotistical and funny as Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark was eight years ago. We’ve seen this tale of redemption sprinkled with humour before and it’s starting to get a little tiresome.

The generic plot aside, the talented supporting cast is criminally underused here. Mads Mikkelsen, although showing his acting prowess in parts, falls in the underwhelming villain category that Marvel is now notorious for. Tilda Swinton and Benedict Wong are decent and Rachel McAdams is wasted.

Doctor Strange: Readers’ Review, Film Companion

However, Benedict Cumberbatch was destined for this role, much like Downey was for Iron Man, and it’ll be hard to picture anyone else as Doctor Strange from hereon. Playing the Sorcerer Supreme, who is basically Iron Man with magic and a cape but more human, it is obvious Cumberbatch is having a blast.

Karl Mordo in the comics has always been a long-time villain so it was surprising to learn of his characterization in the film. But with Chiwetel Ejiofor’s brilliant performance, we get to see the man and how he sees the world. With his inevitable transformation from friend to foe it will be more painful for Strange to go up against someone he once considered an ally. We finally might have a villain on par with Loki; someone whose intentions and motivations have been explored and fleshed out.

The visuals are like MC Escher and Mœbius had a lovechild, who then proceeded to ingest huge amounts of LSD. The film is pure cinematic sorcery and feels like you’re on an acid trip. Films like Transformers utilize CGI in a way that assaults your senses but Doctor Strange rewards them. There were scenes where I was too afraid to blink for the fear of missing out on even a tiny detail.

Doctor Strange: Readers’ Review, Film Companion

Benedict Cumberbatch (L) and Chiwetel Ejiofor are seen filming “Doctor Strange” on location on April 2, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Stewart/GC Images)

Every set-piece has been crafted masterfully in a way that you can’t really predict where the scene is going to take you next. This coupled with some slick editing and some good music by Michael Giacchino gives you some of the most innovative and engrossing action sequences since The Matrix. The film also has one of the most interesting climax sequences I’ve ever seen in a film.

The other dimensions are beautifully depicted and they seem like they’ve just been lifted out of the original Steve Ditko comics and put on the big screen. I’m sure the man himself would be proud of what Marvel have done with the character.

To sum it up, Marvel Studios has yet another hit on their hands without straying from their formula but by bringing in some of the most stunning visuals ever seen on film. Period.

Watch Sucharita Tyagi’s Not A Movie Review of Doctor Strange

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