Twitter review: The Matrix meets Inception meets Beyonce’s Single Ladies. No, back up, not that last part. A good addition to the MCU, but not GOTG good.
Spoiler-free review: Doctor Strange is, for lack of a better term, a bit of a strange character to have in the Marvel Comics Universe. Most of the people inhabiting the MCU either have a sort of armor, or are physically enhanced in some way (the major exceptions being Black Widow and Hawkeye – gee, I wonder why neither of them have been featured in their own movie?). Doctor Strange has neither. Okay, he has his cape and The Eye Of Agamotto, but still.
For those not familiar with the character, the film follows Doctor Stephen Strange, a brilliant neurosurgeon (I doubt it would make for a good story if he was sloppy) who gets into a car accident while checking his cell phone to see the image of a patient (at the end of the credits, there’s even a message telling people not to get distracted while driving). As a result of the accident, Strange loses the ability to use his hands as he used to. Frustrated, he eventually is told about a man who was a paraplegic who somehow learned to walk again. Tracking the man down, Strange is told to go to Nepal, where he comes into contact with The Ancient One, a person who is able to knock his soul out of his body and cast him into a 2001-esque space/time dance. Having found a new purpose, Strange starts reading everything he can get his hands on, quickly becoming proficient in the mystical arts. Which is a good thing, since one of the Ancient One’s former disciples, Kaecellius, wants to eventually gain immortality by tapping into the power of Dormammu, a being from a dark dimension.
As in a lot of the MCU films, there are stabs at humor taken throughout, but the highlight of the film is when Kaecellius and his followers start attacking Strange and The Ancient One. There’s not only a lot of mind-bending images that would make MC Escher proud, but also some fun, unusual fights, including one that takes place on the astral plane. When I left the theater, I was happy I finally got to see this film, but at the same time I felt like it was missing something. And while I agree with another movie critic that the beats in this film are very similar to Iron Man and a bunch of other MCU films, I think the thing I was also missing was a bit more heart. Part of the problem with having Strange be so egotistical is that he acts like an asshole for a long time before he finally doesn’t. Hopefully in any sequels, we can see Strange actually go out on a date or something. As he demonstrates at one point, he can refill a person’s cup pretty easily.
Spolier-filled review: I usually enjoy watching Tilda Swinton, and while she gives a decent performance here, I also felt like she was a bit of a wasted character. Being someone who has lived for so many years and who herself had tapped into Dormammu’s dimension for power, it would have been nice if she had been allowed to show a bit more emotion, especially when being confronted with her own death. I keep thinking of her role a Gabriel in Constantie and her role in Michael Clayton. In both of those films, she was a cold and manipulative person/being, but she was also allowed to show more emotion that she did here.