Marvel gets Strange

By Drew Lacouture

Staff Writer

In their fourteenth film, “Doctor Strange” continues Marvel Studios’ streak of perfect casting, thrilling action and witty humor that all fits nicely into their cinematic universe while being the first film of theirs to introduce magic. While “Strange” is not a game changer by any means, the small risks it takes should be a sign of what is to come in future Marvel films.

Between audience’s lack of knowledge of the “Doctor Strange” comic books and the oversaturation of comic book movies this year, this film would be a tough sell without the star power of Benedict Cumberbatch. He delightfully fits the role and his presence in future Marvel movies will be most welcome.

Similar to Thor and Iron Man in their first movies, Doctor Strange starts off powerful, is humbled and has to fight an evil doer with a love interest in mind. This formula may be getting repetitive for some, but it is an effective way of telling a story. “Doctor Strange” does it well and to some degree executes it better by having him injured and frustrated, something many people can relate to.

The rest of the cast do a fine job with the material they are given. However, the script is exposition heavy and often predictable. During Cumberbatch’s training, a lot of explanations are given of this new world that he is being taught the existence of. While there are some funny lines here and there, the writers could have made the script more unique to match the uniqueness of the magic being used.

With all this said, the special effects and action sequences make up for the hefty summaries. The movie deserves to be seen in 3-D. As soon as Tilda Swinton’s character touches Cumberbatch’s forehead, it is made clear that this is not an ordinary Marvel movie in terms of concepts. The hypnotizing action sequences are also inventive and look phenomenal.

What is also phenomenal are the couple of surprises that are in the movie’s storytelling, one of them being during the climax and another during the post-credit scene. These small distinctions help separate Dr. Strange from other superhero origin stories. The fact that Doctor Strange is a music aficionado also leads to some hilarious humor.

What does not separate this film from other Marvel films is its underdeveloped and replaceable villain. There is just not enough screen time and personality to make Mads Mikkelsen’s character stand out. However, he does pose a moral dilemma in the movie that brings out the complexity of the Doctor Strange character.

Fans and casual audiences will most likely appreciate “Doctor Strange” for more than one reason, rather than just because they are distracted by a star-studded soundtrack (looking at you “Suicide Squad”).  The film is not as strong as this year’s “Captain America: Civil War,” but it is more engaging than “Ant-Man.” We will be looking forward to Cumberbatch and his mystical powers in future Marvel films.

The Flyer gives “Doctor Strange” a 7/10.

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