Review: Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange is the newest film to enter the beloved and rapidly expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe- and this film is by far the most ambitious, the most groundbreaking, and easily the most unique film I’ve seen in some time. I love the MCU and (almost) all of the films it contains; they usually meet my high expectations, and rarely am I disappointed in them. However, almost as rarely do they far exceed my expectations, and Doctor Strange is now another film to join that extremely short list. This film contained more than everything I wanted to see it in, and just about everything that I did see in it, I loved. The characters sold me, the story hooked me, the visuals floored me, and the entire movie blew me away every chance it got.

In this story, we follow Stephen Strange, a very successful and famous surgeon who works with his crush, Christine in the hospital. When he is in an accident that takes away the use of his hands, he tries everything to fix them, but when all Western medicine fails, he heads East to Asia in order to try to solve the problem. What ensues is a superhero origin story full of magic, excitement, romance, and everything else one could ask for from a superhero film. There are a few flaws that almost every Marvel movie is now notorious for having: a bland villain and a bland love story. Some will undoubtedly disagree with me, but I would say that this trend has broken with this film. The relationship between Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Christine (Rachel McAdams) was one that I easily got behind after awhile- this relationship didn’t pretend to be some Disney love story (just kidding, I love Disney’s love stories): it was tough and challenging and I actually liked when the characters interacted together. It seemed as though they were good together because they were honest together, and they made for great friends as well as partners. I guess this is such a big point I’m making simply because I was so surprised that it worked! I mean, in the Iron Man films, we have Tony and Pepper which I was not really a big fan of after the first Avengers film; I think it started to have run it’s course and I’m glad that they’re done. The romance in The Incredible Hulk was extremely melodramatic and cheesy and I could not easily get behind it at all- there was way too much drama going on that I did not care about seeing. The romance between Jane and Thor was a bit of a joke to me, and I thought that both Jane and Darcy could be completely erased from the MCU for the better. Then, we have the whole Bruce Banner and Natasha Romanov fiasco which nobody liked at all, even though I thought it could have worked. And then we now have the Steve Rogers and Sharon Carter strangeness after the very great Peggy and Steve love life. So, basically, the relationship in Doctor Strange is the only one in the MCU currently that I think works on any level.

Now, the villain…I thought he worked well! Maybe it’s the character himself, or the performance of the character, but I did see much more reasoning and depth behind him even if it was just the run-of-the-mill “you don’t understand the power that we’re dealing with, this world must be destroyed” kind-of-thing. However, I loved when the villain was on screen and I very much feared for our protagonist because of how well the power that the antagonist possessed was built up and emphasized in the first scene, and onwards. And that brings me to the next point: the action. In one word: DAMN! The action in this movie made my jaw drop. The way that it was filmed how the visual effects improved the sequences so vastly was absolutely amazing. When beams of light were being conjured out of thin air and used as swords and shields by characters who were flying between walls and bending the floors around them, I could not even blink for fear of missing something amazing. The climax was extremely apparently CGI-filled, and the “villain” at the end, I was unsure if I liked that much. It got a little repetitive in the last scene, for obvious and purposeful reasons, but still, I thought it carried on a little long- but it looked great the entire time.

And the visuals are not just amazing in the action sequences, the tripping sequences that Stephen encounters were simply phenomenal. The Ancient One uses phrases like “let go of your ego” and “open your ‘eye,’” before Stephen enters the multiverse, which are notions largely related to the use of psychedelic drugs- and even Strange asks if Psilocybin (shrooms) or LSD (acid) was in his tea. When he enters the other dimensions and starts flying around and seeing other worlds and has incredibly intense visuals, I was reminded instantly of an LSD or DMT trip- and I think this film has great respect and understanding of psychedelics, and hopefully this mainstream blockbuster film will kill a lot of the ignorance and stigma that the public has in regards to hallucinogens and psychedelics in general, and maybe even learn to respect their effects. “Open your mind,” as the movie tells us. Very much like Guardians of the Galaxy, this was a film that opened the MCU up to a lot more than the audience had yet experienced in the saga. The Avengers as a team are a group of people who fight physical threats on the ground of Earth. The Guardians of the Galaxy are a group of varying creatures who fight physical threats on many worlds across the galaxy. Doctor Strange and the other sorcerers are a group of people who protect the dimensions from dark forces in order to maintain order and balance in areas that all other characters in the MCU have yet to experience. So, it goes without saying that this movie takes us in places that are new and exciting, and it does that in a way that flowed and made sense.

Never did I feel out of the loop of what was going on, and the exposition of the ideas, notions, and practices that we see in the movie (and there is a lot of exposition) was handled expertly and inclusively. The marketing for this film was just as prominent as the other MCU films, yet I felt that I knew a lot less about the movie going in than I did about, say, Civil War or Age of Ultron. I don’t want to say much of anything about what happens in the story as I’ve been fairly general up to this point, and I think that not knowing much is the best way to go into this film. So, overall, I would say that Doctor Strange is one of the strongest blockbusters I’ve seen in the last year for many reasons, such as the visuals, story, characters, and even romance, which surprised me. I highly and honestly recommend this movie and I would give it a solid 8/10 and a green recommendation! If you’ve seen this, what did you think about it? If you have yet to see this movie, do you think you will end up seeing it soon? Why or why not? I’d love to hear your thoughts. I don’t think of myself as a movie reviewer, I’m just a movie fan who loves to talk about movies, so please let me know what you think! Thanks for reading and I’ll see you soon!

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