Doctor Strange Is A Wonderfully Weird Addition To The Marvel Multiverse
Good news if you thought Inception didn’t take full visual advantage of its brain-busting premise: the latest instalment in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe has more hallucinatory thrills than The Matrix, Dark City, and Inception combined. While the MCU has never held back on digital destruction, here it refreshingly mixes things up with ground-breaking imagery that feels totally justified thanks to Doctor Strange’s ethereal abilities.
It goes without saying that Doctor Strange is the most visually ambitious Marvel movie to date (it’s hard to believe anything will top Stephen Strange’s first magical mystery tour across a bunch of increasingly psychedelic dimensions), but it’s further strengthened by distinguished actors who inject the perfect proportion of goofiness and gravitas.
As the titular superhero, Benedict Cumberbatch is equal parts dashing and wise-cracking, with just the right amount of strange. The same goes for Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One—who we all know was drastically altered from the comics, but let’s not go there. Just as memorable are two of the Ancient One’s disciples, Chiwetel Ejiofor’s broody Mordo and Benedict Wong’s initially-broody-but-progressively-sillier Wong. Oh, and Strange’s cape is easily the best non-human sidekick since BB-8. Not kidding.
Unfortunately, Doctor Strange can’t fully overcome two of the biggest challenges facing the MCU: villains and love interests. While Mads Mikkelsen and Rachel McAdams do the best they can with their limited parts, their characters aren’t exactly compelling. Pretty disappointing since they’re both top-shelf actors. Mikkelsen is sufficiently menacing as the Ancient One’s exiled sorcerer Kaecilius, who’s bent on seizing her mysterious power, but his character lacks backstory and motivation. As for McAdams as Strange’s former flame/current colleague Christine Palmer, she doesn’t have much to do besides react comically to all the otherworldly stuff transpiring around her.
Quibbles aside, Doctor Strange checks off pretty much everything we’ve come to expect in a quality superhero franchise, while also providing more than a few fresh moments of genuine awe and very funny zingers. Some might be discouraged to watch yet another origin story, but I’ll take one of those over an overcrowded Avengers flick any day. The story of a rich smart aleck (in this case a gifted neurosurgeon) who gets taken down a peg and then regains his ego along with super abilities sounds a lot like 2008’s Iron Man, but other qualities these films have in common is a highly charismatic ensemble of seasoned actors and a story that’s less hampered by an ever-growing multiverse. Then again, when was the last time Tony Stark made beautiful origami out of buildings?
Doctor Strange teleports into theatres through one of those cool sparkler portals today. Check out a brand-new clip below: