Friday (Movie) Review: Dr. Strange

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I went to see Dr. Strange with Stephanie on Wednesday. Overall impression? It was good! Perhaps not quite as much fun as some other of the Marvel Universe movies, but quite enjoyable. Plenty of action, some humor, a few outright laughs, and pretty much what you would expect from a Marvel adaptation.

The story, in brief: Dr. Stephen Strange is a world-renowned surgeon, able to perform surgeries that others deem impossible with apparent ease. He’s also a bit of an insufferable jerk, with a huge ego and little regard for the other doctors around him. When a serious car accident leaves him unable to use his hands, he becomes obsessed with finding a way back to his old life. When traditional medicine can’t help, he discovers a hidden enclave of spiritualists who can seemingly perform miracles on those with no other hope. Of course, there is more here than the surface appears, and Strange slowly begins to learn that the group is actually powerful sorcerers who protect the world from encroaching evil. A rogue sorcerer, trained at the enclave, is bent on unleashing unimaginable evil on the world, and Dr. Strange faces the choice of getting the life he once had back, or becoming the sorcerer capable of defeating the forces of evil.

I probably don’t have to tell you which he ultimately chooses, and that is really not much of a spoiler. It’s the journey that takes the front seat here. Strange is really a complete jerk at the beginning, and even after being put in his place by the Ancient One at the enclave, he still lets his ego rule his choices. He’s overconfident and brash. He makes mistakes, some of them with rather large consequences. And all that makes him an interesting character, and makes the movie work, even though we all know how it’s going to end from the start. Strange is flawed, but he learns to live with and work through the flaws, becoming a true superhero by the end.

Action scenes are plenty and fast-moving. There is a nice mix of magical weapons and martial arts fighting. The effects, particularly the “folding” as the sorcerers manipulate reality, are impressive. Some of the scenes, particularly where Strange is flung through the many universes co-existing with ours, seem to drag a bit into “okay, I get it already” territory, but there are very pretty special effects to offset that. Benedict Cumberbatch and Tilda Swinton bring their roles alive to create believable characters (within the confines of comic book believability). Benedict Wong is perfect as the mystical library’s guardian. And, while not a character per se, the Cloak of Levitation steals a scene or two.

Dr. Strange was a very good and enjoyable movie, and a nice addition as a stand-alone story to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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