Directed by: Scott Derrickson
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen, Benedict Wong
Runtime: 115 min
The last movie of Marvel's Cinematic Universe (MCU) of this year has finally arrived! Doctor Strange is an origin story about a know-it-all doctor named Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), who is famous (and extremely arrogant) for his incredible skill to save lives through science and medicine.
After a car accident (don't text while driving!), he finds himself alive, but without his "special power" ... His hands are no longer functional at the level he needed them to be so, after giving up on the "normal" methods to try to fix them, Strange travels to the East where he finds The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) and starts discovering new worlds and possibilities ... Until the bad guys show up ... Hum, did I experience this kind of plot before? Interesting.
First of all, I have to discuss some "external" issues that I had before the premiere of the movie (not the movie itself!). A lot of controversies surrounded the cast of Tilda Swinton as the (too white) sorcerer-supreme ... I have absolutely no problem with that! The same way that I don't care about books (I'm here to review a movie, not a book. If something doesn't make sense in a film because they omitted a scene from the book, that's bad, period! There's not a "he read the book, so it's fine that they omitted", it's still wrong!), I also don't care about the ethnic mumble-jumble always around every single movie. Plus, she was amazing as The Ancient One, so take that!
On top of all of this, I watched this movie in 2D. Yes, I know, what a huge mistake! I actually have some minor issues with the action scenes that I'm positive I wouldn't have if I watched this movie in 3D... I'll try to watch again on IMAX sometime soon because this movie is great!
Some people might call this a typical superhero origin movie and they're not wrong, it is ... That doesn't mean the movie is bad! Deadpool is also an origin story and it still is one of the best movies of the year! Obviously, it's not as conventional as the others, but if you read my introduction above, you can basically say the same about Deadpool (a guy with a normal life -> accident -> gets superpowers -> a bad guy comes along -> he has to defeat him). Doctor Strange might not have the uniqueness of Deadpool, but it's still a well-told story.
Starting with the pros, this is easily the most beautiful film of the MCU. The visual effects are unbelievable stunning, the action sequences (even if with some minor video-game-like scenes) are gorgeous and the Inception-like building's distortions are mind-blowing. There's a scene where Strange "travels" through this new world of magic and this is THE SCENE! The one that everyone will talk about at the end of the film, the one that you will watch thousands of times on Youtube and the one that you'll never forget! The only thing I can say right now is "congratulations" to the visual effects team, they just won themselves an Oscar!
If there's one thing that DC could take from Marvel, it would be the cast and the production team. Once again, the director did an excellent job with a perfect staff and all the actors and actresses were brilliant. Benedict Cumberbatch didn't go out of his comfort zone at all since Sherlock Holmes and Stephen Strange have a similar personality, so he just nailed his performance! He perfectly captioned the egotistic, smug, cocky, funny and HUMAN doctor. Human because, even after he learns his powers, he doesn't forget who he is, he's still arrogant, but when he kills someone he's truly affected by it! He's still a doctor, he saves lives, so killing really triggers him and Cumberbatch is amazing demonstrating that.
Tilda Swinton was the one that I was always so intrigued to see and hear. The Ancient One is a very mysterious character and every time she talked I felt dragged by her voice into this "full-attention mode". She was thrilling and I have no words to describe how surprised I was when I met this character. Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is the right-hand of The Ancient One, he follows her lead and trusts her blindly, which gives him the motivation to do what he's going to in the sequel. Ejiofor also did a great job in showing the strict personality that his character has, the full respect for the laws of nature make him question everyone that breaks them. Master Wong, who is played by Benedict Wong (coincidence?), is an extremely fun character. The interactions between him and Strange were super funny and I was always with a smile on my face when he was on the screen.
Kaecilius is as good as his actor, Mads Mikkelsen. He is not supposed to be the main villain since there's a higher power, but he has a lot of screen time. The oh so powerful villain appears for like 5min and Kaecilius is the one that has all the attention. Don't get me wrong, he's a good villain with more than understandable motivations (he actually has a very intriguing backstory), but he wasn't the biggest evil to fight against (he was basically a puppet for someone else to achieve a greater objective). This time Marvel's villain wasn't as effective as the other times.
Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams) is the college and lover of the famous doctor ... And the "romance" didn't work. McAdams is perfect in the scenes that she's in, which are very few and that's the problem. Literally, if you take out all the scenes where Palmer shows up, there's only one that saves this character. If Lois Lane was the damsel in distress on Batman V Superman, Christine Palmer was the doctor that was only necessary when our heroes were hurt and that's too little for a character of this importance. This is by far my major issue with this film.
The other issue would be very few scenes from the action sequences that seemed very video-game-ish and some other scenes where it was too much of a camera just moving too fast for us to see ... I don't know if it was because of the 2D, but I feel that I should have liked more the overall action of this film that I did (to make it clear, I did like it! I just expected more in some parts).
This is a classic superhero origin story, with an amazing score by Michael Giacchino and a lot of Marvel's usual comedy (they're getting better and better on implementing some belly-laughter humor on their films, the audience and I were laughing so hard throughout the whole runtime). Excellent cast, great directing and BRILLIANT, STUNNING, JAW-DROPPING production and visual effects ... God, I really need to see this one on IMAX!