Release Date: Nov. 4
Director: Scott Derrickson
Production Company: Marvel Studios
Duration: 115 minutes
At this point it's really no question whether or not a Marvel movie will be good, but how good it will be. "Doctor Strange," the 14th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is the first origin movie from Marvel since 2015's "Ant-Man." Although it still sticks close to the basic Marvel “formula,” it is certainly a different cinematic spectacle than you've seen before.
Many will argue that the central protagonist, Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays Stephen Strange, is too similar to Robert Downey Jr.'s portrayal of Tony Stark in "Iron Man." It is true that they share some characteristics, but this may be on purpose since Downey’s last movie is rumored to be "Avengers: Infinity War,"and they might be setting up a replacement for his beloved character.
One thing that cannot be argued is how well Cumberbatch plays Strange, whose arrogance is shared with another character played by Cumberbatch, Sherlock Holmes. The supporting cast does a pretty good job bringing personality to the mystical world that the audience is eventually dropped into. Unfortunately, Mads Mikkelsen, who plays Kaecilius, is just another on a list of talented actors that makes for unremarkable and underdeveloped villains in Marvel movies.
Moving into the negative aspects of the movie, I think it is pretty clear that the pacing for this movie is just a bit off. The first act does a good job at introducing Strange’s personality and characteristics, while Act II focuses on the education and accumulation of his mystical powers.
Unfortunately, a rather large portion of time is taken out of the movie, as it becomes unclear just how long Strange has been away. The other part of the problem is that once Act III starts, it is practically nonstop. It's quite a bit of fun, but I caught myself wondering if it was already at the conclusion because it seemed to run together after Strange gains his abilities.
The other issue was the forced levity that intruded upon very good scenes. This might be subjective, but I believe Marvel has caged itself into always having funny one-liners of dialogue and environmental gags.
In the case of "Doctor Strange," the humor occasionally feels oddly out of place. After the third gag with The Cloak of Levitation, you'll know what I mean. It's undoubtedly funny, but also makes any sort of gravity of the situation or danger practically nonexistent.
I’ll end on what is arguably the best thing about the movie. First, you should know that "Doctor Strange" comics were very popular in the 1960s with hippies. As the American youth became more interested in Eastern mysticism, the colorful and philosophical world of "Doctor Strange" spoke to them. The visuals in this film will make you feel just like they did when they first jumped into the psychedelic comic pages.
When Strange first learns of magic, the film takes you with him on his journey, and it's hard not to be in awe of the weirdness on screen. When Strange learns to cast spells and bend reality, the cinematography is kicked up another level, and the ensuing madness is unlike anything you've seen on screen before.
It's incredible that a movie about Strange came out, but this is another example of the brave new world that we are all part of when it comes to superhero movies. Unfortunately, the film is marred with pacing that is common with origin stories as well as a number of jokes that didn't match the tone.
Yet, by and large, "Doctor Strange" is an entertaining and deeply philosophical movie if examined deeply enough. If you're a Marvel fan, you're already going to see this movie. However, if you are curious about what sort of spectacle could be put on, or if you are just interested in the cast, "Doctor Strange" should not disappoint. You might have been subject to the basic recipe many times before, but I doubt you will have really seen it like this.