Doctor Strange is inherently a strange film, set in the world of iron suits and space racoons this film is the first to introduce hard-core, unadulterated magic to the MCU. We’ve seen Marvel dabble in this kind of thing with the Thor films, Antman’s Microverse and the introduction of the Hand and Ghostrider into the shows. But Doctor Strange is the first film to dive headfirst into the crazy zany world of the multiverse and layers of reality and dimensions.
It is beautiful.
The effects, both in design and execution are marvellous, looking like they were ripped straight from the pages of the most visceral and trippy comics. The spells, runes and other magical casts are brilliantly realised and their effects on the world around them are stunning.
Unfortunately not many are explored or explained thoroughly, we see a plethora of spells that boil down to orange or red firework effects with no descript purpose, which feels like a shame. But, when a spell is fleshed out, it’s awesome, the use of the Eye of Agamotto is stunning, smart and hysterical, bending time in increasingly inventive ways.
The same goes for the artefacts, the Cloak of Levitation is imbued with a delightful sense of personality and feels like with some more screen time, which should be built out throughout the overflowing cluster of cameos that is the MCU, it should become the next Groot.
The Sling Ring is also ringed for all it’s potential value as it is used for dramatic and comedic visual and narrative effects. The focus is admirable but it feels as if other artefacts had felt some love it could have made for a better and more wondrous experience.
Dimensions also get spread rather thinly, the Mirror Dimension and Dark Dimension are explored and both are very cool concepts. However, the Mirror Dimension frequently feels like an excuse to negate any consequences in the real world, but subsequently allows the characters to go more gonzo with their powers so it can be forgiven, furthermore Strange even makes a point of using this as part of his plan, so by that point it becomes rather endearing. Unfortunately the Dark Dimension is only really whizzed past until the end, in which it is shown in it’s full glory and once again Strange uses its internal rules and logic to win.
That really is the films strongest aspect, other than the stunning visuals, Cumberbatch’s Strange is obnoxiously arrogant, but also a logical pseudo pacifist. Frequently finding non violent ways to solve his problems and clearly being wracked by guilt by necessary violence, as well as his frequent abandonment of McAdams’ Dr Palmer. Writer and Director Derrickson really does capture the tempered cockiness of too smart for his own good, but inherently good guy Strange from the comics and Cumberbatch brings him to life expertly.
Unfortunately, the supporting cast feels underserved in a lot of cases, the film left me wanting more from Wong, Mordo and Doctor Palmer especially, but maybe that’s a pro, the film left me wanting more. However, in some cases, like Mads Mickelson’s villain, it felt like the character could have been written better and the lack of the character’s presence impacted the film rather negatively.
I don’t know if this is my favourite MCU entry, but it’s definitely top three, Marvel’s hit a spectacular stride and the good doctor is definitely the character I want to see more from in future instalments and that’s the sign of quality, the promise of Strange’s presence in the MCU is one of the most promising thing the series has offered in a while and I look forward to seeing where he goes next.
Ps. Marvel’s new logo animation is terrific and invokes nostalgia for previous films, which just shouldn’t be possible already.