Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange ★★★

Obviously the visuals here are fantastic from start to finish. Most of the fight set pieces involve Inception-like shifting dimensional landscapes, while we are also treated to colorful spacey splashes of aesthetic gusto throughout the film's better moments. I find this to be firmly mid-tier MCU storytelling outside of the fantastic visuals, but it is still an entertaining popcorn movie and worth a watch.

Cumberbatch is honestly always a strong actor, and he does a good job here too. That said, I couldn't shake the feeling the entire time that they didn't do enough to separate his character's attitude and lines from that of the cinematically long-established Tony Stark character. The character basically begins as a more unlikable and cross version of Stark, but as he works to lessen his ego, he slowly morphs more and more into a lead spouting the same kind of sarcastic anti-hero comedy fodder that Stark has often used. Doctor Strange and Iron Man are fighting two different types of battles of self-reconciliation as characters, but in terms of your basic line delivery and character writing, the MCU writers did little to distinguish Strange here. This wouldn't be as big of a deal if RDJ's iconic Iron Man performance had not been embedded in the public's mind for nearly a decade longer.

We get an unexplained mystical action sequence opening featuring some of the supporting characters that will leave non-comic book guys like me in the dark. Thankfully, it was visually entertaining and mysterious enough to overcome the lack of plot detail confusion. From there, we learn about our protagonist and slowly watch him become a hero. Emphasis on slowly. Remember the part of Batman Begins with Christian Bale doing combat training on the ice with Liam Neeson? Most of the first hour of this film feels like an extended version of that training sequence, but with less physical combat and more MIND MAGIC. After that, it opens up and becomes much more fun, though. If you don't mind a constant stream of pseudo metaphysics meets new-age thinking babbling tossed your way as a stand-in for a plot, there's actually a nice little character story about Strange's maturation as a person under here. It probably would have been developed better outside of this franchise, but the movie still delivers pretty well as a popcorn flick once we get out of Strange's extended training mode.

P.S. I honestly found Dormammu pretty damn silly. Not Steppenwolf silly, but close. The best superhero movies do not revolve around CGI villains, repeat after me. It was cool that Benedict Cumberbatch voiced him and that he symbolically had to "fight himself" again, though.

Double P.S. Rachel McAdams was extremely likeable as usual in her role and was WAY underused.

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