The mind-bending new twist to the Marvel Universe
Doctor Strange is the 14th installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, being the 2nd film in Phase Three, following Captain America: Civil War. It stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Rachel McAdams, and is directed by Scott Derrickson.
Stephen Strange (Cumberbatch) is an arrogant and know-it-all neurosurgeon whose career is suddenly halted when he gets into a violent car accident and loses the use of his hands. Strange, frustrated with his situation, learns of a man who was once a paraplegic, but mysteriously began to walk again. The man points Strange to the location of The Ancient One, a sorcerer with the power to manipulate space and other dimensions. The Ancient One eventually decides to teach Strange in the ways of the mystical arts.
So far, Marvel has explored basically the entire galaxy. Thor and the Guardians of the Galaxy have adventured through many different planetoids and regions of space, while Iron Man, the Hulk, Ant Man, and Captain America oversee the troubles going on around Earth. Now comes Doctor Strange, whose time and space-bending powers are a noticeable shift in gears for Marvel. It's also definitive proof that the MCU knows no boundaries, basically going anywhere and everywhere imaginable (Captain Kirk would be jealous).
Topics of inter-dimensional exploring and the ability to manipulate time and space are probably the most bizarre concepts that Marvel has had the ambition to take on. And yet, we can walk out of Doctor Strange having little to no confusion as to what happened and what we just saw. What we see is a fresh superhero, a new and welcome face in Benedict Cumberbatch, and a visual effects extravaganza that will make your eyes pop.
- The visual effects. Marvel has given us all sorts of epic-scope visual effects, but the visuals in Doctor Strange are unquestionably the best in the MCU by far. Imagine looking through a kaleidoscope on steroids. That's what you see in Doctor Strange; with buildings, walls, and streets all being flipped, stacked, and twisted, making the similar effects in Inception look like child's play.
- Benedict Cumberbatch, who is an interesting fit for Stephen Strange. Strange continuously questions how the mystical arts could be possible, trying to reason his stance from a scientific viewpoint. He argues how the cells in the human body could work to potentially fix nerves and broken bones, while The Ancient One claims she heals the human body through spirit and other mystical forces. Cumberbatch does not have the Hulk Hogan-like physique that Thor and Captain America have, but that's what makes him so suitable for the role, and it contributes to what makes him a nice addition to the Marvel heroes clan.
- Once again, Marvel insists on using as much humor as they think they can possibly squeeze into one of these films before it falls into the comedy category. The humor is not bad at all; there are a lot of funny exchanges of dialogue ("It's the Wifi password. We're not savages") and other tiny, humorous moments, but no director or writer of almost any of the MCU films seems to know when enough's enough. Like I said in my Civil War review, I certainly encourage humor in these films, but not to the point where I begin to question if the characters are really taking their current predicament seriously. If you're fighting a villain to save Earth or the galaxy, is cracking jokes and one-liners something you would go out of your way to do?
I suppose critics and audiences, for some reason nowadays, highly demand humor in superhero films, which must contribute to why Marvel has been so successful. DC's superhero films, on the other hand, are sometimes accused of being not fun enough. Yeah, I wouldn't call The Dark Knight, a "fun" movie that is filled with humor, yet it's considered one of the greatest superhero films ever made.
Despite the over-reliance on humor, Doctor Strange keeps Phase Three of the MCU moving right along, packed with splendid visuals and a welcome new-face in Benedict Cumberbatch. I, and many others, look forward to what new adventures come Strange's way, both in his own films, and in the next Avengers. He will be in Avengers 3, right?
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