Wednesday, 26 October 2016

'Doctor Strange' Review

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is striving in its impressive third phase. After 'Captain America: Civil War' got the phase off to a fantastic start, Marvel is looking to maintain their momentum by adding yet another hero into the mix with 'Doctor Strange'. A character much different to anything we've seen before in the MCU seemed to be a gamble, but thankfully, it was a gamble that paid off.

Dr Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is one of the top surgeons until a car accident leaves him with severe injuries to his hands that make it impossible for him to continue his work. Seeking help, Strange goes East to Nepal in order to find someone who could cure him. He is taken in by The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) who then informs Strange that she and many others are in a tough battle against dark forces who to destroy reality. Strange is forced to make a decision on whether to be selfless or use his new abilities to help save the world as we know it.

The Marvel formula seems to be gold at this moment as each installment in the MCU seems to be of a decent standard at the very least. The combination of fun, interesting characters, alongside cool abilities, great action and humour is hitting all the right notes for fans and critics alike and 'Doctor Strange' seems to follow that trend.

What seems to separate fans of Marvel and other comic book movie franchises is the use of humour and the general more light-hearted approach to the superhero genre. That may be the difference yet again in opinions about Marvel's latest film as the humour is ever apparent yet again. The film follows suit by using a lot of jokes throughout the film, even poking fun during some more serious scenes. For the most part, the humour works very well with Strange possessing the quick wit similar to the likes of Robert Downey Jr's Tony Stark. The delivery from Cumberbatch with his jokes are a key part of the success, as well as the reactions from co-stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams and Benedict Wong. At times, the humour does feel a bit out of place or the joke just lingers on for too long, especially the moments with Strange's magical cape.

Benedict Cumberbatch is a name that seems to be linked with every role in Hollywood and with performances like this, it is easy to see why. Cumberbatch is very cool and humorous as Strange, showing great range as the character turns from being selfish to selfless. The talented actor was very impressive in his role where he was allowed to truly shine, and it may be my favourite role of his to date. Tilda Swinton does well as the very wise 'Ancient One' who seems to hold secrets from her followers as Chiwetel Ejiofor does well, especially playing off Cumberbatch.

Unfortunately, 'Doctor Strange' follows the Marvel formula once again when it comes to the villain Kaecilius. Mads Mikkelsen is a natural when it comes to playing a bad guy, as he shined as one the greatest Bond villains La Chiffre in 'Casino Royale' as well as pulling off the character of Hannibal Lecter very well in the TV series 'Hannibal'. Mikkelsen brings a cold ruthlessness to his performances but he wasn't really able to showcase this in the film. Instead, he is actually shown to be fairly weak throughout the film as he rarely shows dominance over our heroes. Kaecilius had the potential to be something great but like most villains in the MCU, he fell rather flat.

The origin story of Stephen Strange is fairly well established as it sums him up very quickly, showing he's arrogant and likes the finer things. Once we see him lose the ability to operate we see the vulnerability of the character which the film seemed to handle fairly well. However, the film seems to brush over Strange's learning of his new found abilities fairly quickly. We see him do some training, accomplish a feat and then seems to be a natural straight away. We don't see much of him trying and failing which made it seem as if he had been doing it for years, rather than a couple of days. There could have been so much more done with this which would have allowed them to flesh out the powers of the character a bit more as well. Due to this, there doesn't seem to be that big of a progression in Strange's skill level as the film goes on which shouldn't happen in the introduction of a brand new character.

What really allows 'Doctor Strange' to shine is the stunning visuals on show. These visuals may make you feel as if you are tripping on something at times as the film showcases the magic that these characters possess. What is even more spectacular is how they incorporate these visuals with the action in the movie. The film uses the manipulations of reality to create some truly jaw-dropping scenes that are like no other. This could've turned out to have been a complete mess if not done properly, but thankfully, these scenes were crafted incredibly well to allow us all to marvel at them.

Overall, 'Doctor Strange' is a worthy addition to the MCU, bringing a film that follows the same kind of formula, but also bringing new aspects to the series. Unfortunately, there are some aspects that hold the film back and sadly, it has to do with the villain once again. If you are a fan of the MCU then you should really enjoy this one.

Final Verdict = 

So have you seen ' Doctor Strange'? If so, what did you think of it? I hope that this review was useful for if you were planning on seeing the movie! Once again, thank you for taking the time to read my review, it is much appreciated!

By Angus McGregor