It would seem that Marvel can’t make a bad movie.
The Marvel cinematic universe is one of the most popular film franchises in history, and its newest addition, Doctor Strange, is sure to delight and entertain comic-book lovers and moviegoers of all ages as well.
For a comic-book film, Doctor Strange contains some deep messages. The film will likely prompt some serious conversations after the credits roll (and after the two typical, bonus Marvel scenes at the end) among moviegoers because of its inherent themes. However, also typical of Marvel, the film has some delightful surprises, and, while not classified as a comedy by any means, will have viewers laughing nearly throughout its entirety.
Doctor Strange is a “strange film,” even for a Marvel movie. In fact, in some ways, it doesn’t even seem like a Marvel movie — perhaps it’s Benedict Cumberbatch’s stellar performance as Dr. Strange, or maybe it’s the simplicity of its story design. Nevertheless, it is a superhero film, but Strange isn’t your average superhero. He’s quite cocky and arrogant, and that gets him into trouble sometimes. His character is slightly reminiscent of Tony Stark, but Cumberbatch does an excellent job of making the character his own.
The film begins with neurosurgeon, Dr. Stephen Strange, saving people’s lives (in the hospital). He’s confident in his ability, and this talent is where he seemingly derives his self worth. When he is careless while driving his Lamborghini and gets himself into a horrific accident, leading to limited use of his hands — which is how he made his living since he’s a renowned neurosurgeon — his world is understandably shaken.
After spending all his wealth trying to find a way to heal his shaky hands, Dr. Strange finally stumbles into the mystic arts after meeting the “Ancient One” (Tilda Swinton). The rest of the story is comic-book history as he finds his true calling in life.
Dr. Strange has always had a gift for helping people. Before, he used this gift to heal others, but he was still internally focused, as he would turn patients away if the surgery was too risky or complicated so that he wouldn’t ruin his “perfect record.” However, after he masters the mystic arts (and gets over himself a bit), his focal point shifts to saving the world, rather than saving himself.
Swinton and Rachel McAdams (who plays Strange’s love-interest-but-just-friends coworker Christine) are good, but Cumberbatch really carries the film all on his shoulders.
The visual effects are also captivating — this is one of the rare films you actually need to see in IMAX 3D. Visual effects supervisors Stephane Ceretti and Richard Bluff create a fanciful, delusory world full of action and creative visuals.
Even though some may say it’s just a comic-book film, Dr. Strange delivers some serious themes and messages, as mentioned before. Although there’s more from the film, here’s a few of the big ones:
1. Dr. Stephen Strange can serve as a great role model for people who suffer traumatic incidents that leave them disabled.
- At first, Strange is abrasive to everyone after his injury, but he overcomes this and relies on what he can do — and doing it to his fullest potential.
2. The film delves into religious themes with the traditional story of good and evil, but it also hits on eternal life and the consequences if you choose the wrong path.
- The “bad guys” wanted eternal life. However, viewers see that eternal life with evil is a horrible fate.
3. Dr. Strange’s course of action to fix the problems in the world have consequences.
- Does the end always justify the means?
- How far should one go in bending the rules to do the right thing?
Overall, the film is a solid 3/4. It’s definitely one of the must-see films of the year, especially for those who follow the Marvel cinematic universe.
Next week, we’ll look at Superman Returns to compare the two films and see how far — even in just 10 years — the special effects in superhero-related films have come. This 2006 film stars Brandon Routh as Superman and Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane.
Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures