Next up in line for the Marvel Cinematic Universe treatment is Doctor Strange, Marvel’s newest superhero flick that came out on Nov. 4. While the film boasts innovative CGI effects that prove to be the lifeblood of the movie, the film falls short on other aspects of production, making the whole thing feel more like Doctor Standard (insert laugh track here).
Benedict Cumberbatch plays Doctor Stephen Strange, an arrogant but gifted neurosurgeon working in New York City. After a vehicular accident irreparably damages his hands and Western medicine fails him, Strange is forced to find new forms of treatment in an attempt to continue his career in surgery. His search takes him to Kathmandu, Nepal, where an ancient sorcerer has a method that involves a realm of knowledge Strange did not encounter in medical school.
The plot makes its foundation on Strange learning the arcane arts, but this seems to happen so quickly within the context of the film that you forget about how complex the learning process should be, and end up focusing on what new and unexplained ability Strange will use next.
It is understood that Strange is very talented and studious but to be accepted into a clandestine organization, but to learn elaborate magic written in Sanskrit just in time to face the enemy seems too convenient and unsatisfying. It does not help that the film never really shows the passage time and provides very little exposition for supporting characters.
Cumberbatch does a well enough job playing the Sorcerer Supreme, though, and it doesn’t bother me that he will be the face of the franchise in future films.
Although the script is tight and focused, the humor derived from it seemed to rely exclusively on Cumberbatch for its execution. I will admit I chuckled to myself a few times throughout, but after a while expecting another shallow joke from Cumberbatch becomes too predictable and bland.
The most praised aspect of this film is its visual effects, and the director wastes no time in showing the audience what modern computers can do. The way these mystical practitioners bend space and time is reminiscent of scenes in Inception, but the effect artists do their best to move one step further into complicated and ever-changing landscapes. We see cities fold upon themselves in mechanical fashion, ghostly astral projections, and instantaneous travel through multiple dimensions.
While these virtual set pieces do well in establishing the power of modern technology and of the fictional sorcerers, by the end of the film they become convoluted and nauseating, making me feel like I was in the climax of a drug-induced hallucination.
Despite these negative aspects, Doctor Strange is as entertaining as it needs to be. The action scenes are fun to watch and the romance between Strange and Christine Palmer does not get overplayed. As with prior Marvel films, this one takes enough time to establish itself within the Marvel Universe and gives viewers a peek into what to expect next from the film studio.
For comic book fans counting down the films until Infinity War, Doctor Strange is a must-see. However, if you are easily dazed by flashing images, occasional plot holes, and flat supporting characters, I urge you to keep your distance.
Doctor Strange gets a seven out of 10.
Contact CU Independent Arts Writer Alvaro Sanchez at firstname.lastname@example.org.