Marvel Studios have set expectations sky rocket high when it comes to their films because of the track record this studio has had. From ‘Iron Man’ to ‘Captain America: Civil War’, each film has its own unique personal stamp of themes that divert them from being just a standard superhero genre film. ‘Ant-Man’ was a heist film, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ was a sci-fi fantasy opera, ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ is a political spy thriller. Does it still have superhero tropes? Absolutely, and here we are once again with Marvel’s newest addition to their lucrative ‘Marvel Cinematic Universe’ franchise with ‘Doctor Strange’ as a mystical magic film, while still having your usual superhero tropes.
Doctor Stephen Strange is a successful neurosurgeon who has always succeed in saving lives with his brilliant mind of knowledge and spotting what other neurosurgeons don’t see. However, his dream job is in doubt after he is involved in a car accident that damages his hands, the only way he can do his job. Trying to find ways to make his hands improve so he can get back to his occupation, he ends up going in the non-conventional route by trying to heal his hands through spiritual enlightenment with the one called, the Ancient One.
Let’s go through the Marvel formula checklist:
- Humour – Check
- Interesting characters – Check
- Visually impressive effects – Check
It has everything you expect from a Marvel Studios film, and that’s not particularly a bad thing. The jokes mostly work, rarely missing in laughs that you’ve come to expect from a Marvel film. The characters are likeable and interesting. Sure, some characters are underdeveloped, like Christine (Rachel McAdams) who is seen as hope that Stephen Strange continues to look for as he struggles with his newfound powers. However, characters like Stephen Strange and the Ancient One are the most developed, offering forms of humanity and emotional vulnerability that they bring to their characters. Stephen is similar to Robert Downey Jr.’s character Tony Stark from the ‘Iron Man’ films, however there are elements of Strange that he does care about people, it’s just he cares about himself slightly more, when compared to Stark, he cares more about himself and his business as he slowly grows with the friendships and relationship with Rhodey and Pepper respectively. The acting performances from Benedict Cumberbatch and Tilda Swinton are spot-on and bring a lot of character to their roles, making them a delight to watch when they appear on screen. Even Benedict Wong who ironically plays a character called Wong steals scenes with witty humour and his strict librarian attitude. And the visual effects are mind-boggling impressive, even if at times they are a little too big and extravagant, that get on the “strange” side of things.
What limits ‘Doctor Strange’ from being one of Marvel’s greats is that the story needed balance, at times the story gets taken to the backseat to show off the visual effects, while the effects get lost in sake for the story. Even though what they bring to this film with the rules and laws of these magical powers, there are still instances where the film doesn’t explain why this happens, or why did this happen, and just come across as plot convenience for the sake of the hero.
‘Doctor Strange’ is ambitious, while it can be a little too ambitious by coming off as strange, however the film will still delight audiences with its interesting characters, visual effects and consistent humour, even if the film’s story and villain is a little too weak, but it is still an entertaining ride.
‘Doctor Strange’ may not be one of Marvel’s best, but it still entertains as a likeable solid entry in the already large ‘Marvel Cinematic Universe’ library.
P.S. Stick around after the credits for two important scenes that will move the MCU forward, one mid-credits and one post-credits.