I was so excited about this movie for a variety of reasons. First of all, I am not too familiar with the entire Dr. Strange backstory. I mean, I read a mini-series a few years ago that retold his origin and remember him from New Avengers, but that is about it. Despite what some people think, I have not read every comic ever or know everything about every character. So I was excited to be able to go into one of these movies knowing very little and not having a sneaking suspicion of how it would end or play out. Second, I figured this would be a chance for Marvel to break from their mold and try something completely different. And last, I think Benedict Cumberbatch is awesome.
So how did the movie do with those three things? It did alright. I mean, the origin story that I read a few years ago (I want to say by Mark Waid, I could be wrong?) had most of the elements that were in the movie. The movie did try a few things that were different, but did not go too far from the Marvel mold. And Cumberbatch was awesome. Was the movie great? Not really. It was cool, it was funny, it is definitely worth seeing at a theater. Okay, so from here I will do what I loved/hated and there will obviously be spoilers.
-The movie definitely introduced a different kind of superpower. The ability to bend reality. Different universes and dimensions. The fight scenes were intense, especially the chase across an always changing NYC. However, it did feel a bit like Inception.
-There was no giant thing crashing into and destroying a city! That is fantastic! I mean, there was some city destruction, but then Strange uses the Eye of Agamotto to turn back time and fix everything. This is also how he defeats Dormammu. Not some huge battle where they fire mystic energy at each other, but instead Strange uses the Eye to lock Dormammu into an endless time-loop until he agrees to stop attacking Earth. I thought that was a clever strategy.
-Stephen Strange=Tony Stark. I know, every review out there is already saying this, but as I watched the movie, I thought the same thing. In fact, all of the funny stuff about the movie just seems like stuff we have seen before. The snarky, rich, genius? Yeah, we have seen that. And I do have to mention Cumberbatch’s accent. It was not really as bad as people are acting, but it almost sounded like he was trying to do an imitation of Hugh Laurie as Dr. House.
-The humor in this film was pretty generic. It was like Marvel looked at what jokes worked in their other films and tried to recreate them in this one. For example, the best joke was probably the Shambala bit. Sadly, this was shown in the trailer, so it lost some of its punch in the movie. However, this is just a fish-out-of-water jokes that the Thor movies used.
-The movie was short. I mean, they definitely decided to cut out some of the character building we see at the beginning of the other Marvel movies, and just jump right to Dr. Strange heading east to learn the mystic arts. One of the advantages is that they were able to focus more on his training there and more on the battle with Kaecillius. Sadly though, it definitely makes his relationship with Christine Palmer feel shoehorned into the plot. Also though, that means that she does not end up becoming some kind of plot device, such as Kaecillius kidnapping her or attacking her. I did like that aspect.
-I was very happy that the end credit scene was of Mordo and how he plans to come after the rest of the sorcerers. I thought Chiwetel Ejiofor was excellent as Mordo. I do hope that his role is expanded as a villain in the sequel. By the end of the movie, I could fully accept his frustration with everything that he has learned. And I also loved that Marvel used the end credit scene to get us excited for a sequel, instead of hyping up the Infinity Wars. I thought for sure we would see Thanos or something.
-The mid-credit scene was okay. I mean, I always enjoy seeing Thor, especially at his excitement over a never-ending beer. And it is great that Dr. Strange will play a part in Thor: Ragnarok. I just wish these scenes were more meaningful and not just a teaser for a movie that we know is coming out.
-I have also read a number of complaints about the Stan Lee cameos. I do not mind them. I do get some of the complaints, especially about how they can really rip you out of the action of the film. On the other hand, some people enjoy it and love spotting him. I would say it would probably be cooler if they were more subtle as the movies continue.
-Lastly, I enjoyed that Marvel really did try to improve the villain. Kaecillius had a purpose and it was not just some weird “I want to steal an Infinity Stone” kind of plan. He wants to end death. He thinks that if Dormammu comes to our realm that time will end and death will no longer exist. I could see how his zealots would follow that type of message. Dr. Strange has his moments of doubt against Kaecillius, until he sees Dormammu’s realm and realizes that it is not all puppies and rainbows there.
I liked the movie. I did not love it. If it is on television, I would watch it again. I look forward to seeing more of Dr. Strange (I definitely cannot wait until he meets Tony Stark…talk about a clash of personalities).