Image via Marvel

Doctor Strange Review: A “Phase One” Film That Proves Marvel Can Change

Avengers Endgame is officially in theaters! To celebrate we’re looking back at the MCU thus far. Next up is the first adventure with the Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Strange.

In many ways Doctor Strange feels like a better “Phase One film.” It’s another origin film that essentially sees the main character fighting an evil version himself. There’s a wise older character that helps guide the hero. There’s a love interest who helps the character realize who he truly is. There’s a few supporting characters who help guide him on his path to becoming everything he’s meant to be. But where Doctor Strange thrives is in the differences in the details and the performance by Benedict Cumberbatch.

One of the major differences for Doctor Strange is the element of the mystical arts, and the way that’s presented on screen. The film features some of- if not the best visuals of the entire MCU to date. It’s the type of film that you watch at home and wish you could see again in IMAX, because it’s so beautifully crafted and full of amazing visuals. This is the type of film that couldn’t have come out ten or fifteen years ago, and the fact that this character’s story is starting now, with the chance to grow as the technology for visual effects grow, is only going to make his potential multiple film franchise, one of the most entertaining and visually astounding. Not just in the MCU, but for films as a whole.

The performance of Benedict Cumberbatch is not only a highlight of the film, but is one of the reasons why the film is one of Marvel’s best. Cumberbatch has grown to top tier stardom in recent years, and he brings it all to the table for Strange. There’s a commitment to each scene, and the growth of his character is on par with that of Tony Stark in the first Iron Man. Another aspect that is often overlooked is the character’s decision towards the climax of the film to find a resolution where he doesn’t have to kill. There are bad guys that are killed in the end, but their deaths either seem to weigh on him heavily or are presented in a way where he is giving the characters what they want, with them not realizing the consequences of their actions.

Strange - Dimensions

The major element that helps the film truly surpass the Phase One films is the villain Kaecilius, played to perfection by Mads Mikkelsen. In a way we can understand Kaecilius, because while what he’s trying to do is obviously evil and would cause the destruction of the world, he sees it as a way of freeing the world from the evils it has created. He’s essentially a religious zealot, but one that has every right to follow the path he has. The Ancient One’s dealings with the dark forces, though hidden from most of the sorcerers she trains, is proof that a sorcerer can work in the light and dark and find balance. It’s understandable why Kaecilius would be motivated to push into the darkness, given all that it’s benefited the Ancient One. He might be on the wrong path, but the motivations and details behind it give it more weight than just being an evil villain for the sake of being an evil villain. That’s something that the MCU took a long time to master before getting to this point.

Overall Doctor Strange is a major highlight for the MCU. It takes the good parts of the previous films and applies them to the Sorcerer Supreme’s origin story, while learning the lessons from it’s past. It’s a film filled with amazing visuals, phenomenal performances, interesting new characters, and a whole new world for the MCU to explore moving forward. Doctor Strange isn’t just a great chapter in the MCU, it’s the chance for the entire Cinematic Universe to grow in all the right ways without an established Avenger showing up along the way.

Rating: A

Image via Marvel

Written by Alex Lancaster
(Alex is a life long film fan, and has dedicated his life to watching, making and obsessing over films. His favorite film is Big Fish, and he despises Avatar. He has a 4 year old son. And a bad habit of saying more than he needs to. Follow 
@alex5348 on Twitter)

 

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