“Forget everything that you think you know.”
After gems like Guardians, Ant Man and Deadpool, we really shouldn’t be that surprised when Marvel Studios nail a new character on their first try. Dr Strange is no exception, although there is something extra special at work here that raises it above other mediocre entries. Dare I say it, perhaps even rivalling Winter Soldier and the original Iron Man? Maybe not…
What I liked…
Visually stunning. Likening it to Inception is only highlighting how rarely playing with physics works well, which is testament to the film’s breath-taking sequences. The backdrops and set design reminded me more of Crouching Tiger than Winter Soldier. The light design and use of CGI is some of the best put to film.
The writing is the biggest win for me. The way every line of dialogue and every moment of action has a purpose drives the film forward. The amount of character development they manage to create in just one movie makes Tony Stark look like a one-trip pony. It has the wit of an Iron Man movie, but with the necessary philosophy that makes turning a stubborn academic in to a master of the arts believable.
Cumerbatch is perfect for the role. A great balance of arrogance, charm and intellect that makes the character so engrossing for the viewer. His background as a studious doctor is ideal for the transition to magic.
Casting and acting are superb. Tilda Swinton was really good, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Benedict Wong were a great supporting duo. Everyone is funny, sometimes too much perhaps, but the way Cumberbatch plays off of the stoic faces of Ejiofor, Swinton and Wong works really well.
What I disliked…
Have we partly been down this road before? Yes. Is it a reason to dislike the film? Probably not. Is it a valid criticism? Hmm, maybe. But when you consider how inundated we are with comic book movies, it is no surprise that some of the tropes are becoming recognisable.
Derrikson doesn’t handle the hand to hand combat scenes as well as the Russo bros. As pretty as it looks, some of the fight scenes lack the visceral quality that we have come to adore about the ol’ Cap movies.
Seems “strange” that our protagonist adamantly denies the existence of any magical elements in the world, despite the fact its set after the Avengers, with Thor, Vision, Scarlet Witch and Co regularly tearing shit up with their powers. Maybe I missed something that explained otherwise, but it feels like the good doctor would at least reference the existence of “enhanced persons”. Wong does, and the doc hardly responds.
Another lame selection of Marvel villains? I would say so. Kaecilius didn’t really develop too much as a character, and the main bad guy was very recognisable as well from previous interpretations (Green Lantern anyone?). Perhaps more back story to the central turncoat would have made more of Mikkelsen’s talents and fleshed out a more Loki-esque antagonist to get our teeth into. Instead we are treated to a bit of a purple-eyed plot device.
Shapstik Verdict: Probably regret not seeing this in 3D at the cinema as I can only imagine how amazing some of those city-bending scenes would be. But it still shines as one of the most original and entertaining Marvel films to date. Its visuals will no doubt steal the show for many, but for me, credit goes to both Cumberbatch and the writers on this one. 7/10