“Doctor Strange” movie review: A Strange-r look at the superhero genre

Janzen Greene, Beats Editor

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Once again, Marvel Studios has proven that they can do no wrong, taking niche characters from their comic origins and making them popular and compelling in the cinematic landscape.  In their most recent effort, “Doctor Strange,” director Scott Derrickson brings the mystical world into Marvel’s cinematic universe.

Benedict Cumberbatch plays Stephen Strange, an arrogant surgeon who is obsessed with himself and his money.  After enduring a traumatic car accident, he is unable to use his hands due to the constant trembling, therefore becomes unable to continue as a surgeon.  Unable to accept this, Strange begins looking everywhere for ways to heal his hands, and eventually is brought to a mysterious group in India, led by The Ancient One, played by Tilda Swinton, where they begin teaching him the mystic arts to help heal his hands.  However, once Kaecilius comes to threaten Strange and the rest of humanity, Strange is forced to stop thinking about himself and use his newfound abilities to save the world.

The plot sounds like the typical Marvel movie structure, but Derrickson manages to tell the story with a unique tone and visual style that separates it from the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films.  The tone is much darker than previous Marvel films and it deals with many serious themes like death, time, and corruption, but thanks to some punch-ups in the script by Rick and Morty writer Dan Harmon, there is some solid humor spread throughout the film to lighten it up when needed.

What stands out the most about the film by far are the incredible special effects sequences.  The trippy, psychedelic inspired visuals provide some awe-inspiring scenes that demand to be seen on the big screen, especially in IMAX 3D.  And, more impressively, even with these insane visuals, Derrickson manages to ground the action, with fights that still feel visceral among the crazy imagery going on around the characters.

Doctor Strange is Marvel Studios most impressive movie to date, and even with a pretty standard plot, the acting, visuals, and darker themes help elevate it beyond anything Marvel has done before.  9.5/10