Review: Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange is the latest in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, featuring the character of Doctor Steven Strange, a neurosurgeon that gets into an accident, loses the ability to operate with his hands, and then seeks out a group of people in the East to heal himself.  During this he also gets tangled into their world of magic, eventually finding himself in a position where the fate of the world kinda rests in his hands.

Being an origin story, ‘Doctor Strange’ spends a lot of time building the main character. There are also some training montages where you see him learn magic and develop his skills, and then eventually use that to take down the main bad guy. In that it is not too different from other origin stories, like ‘Iron Man’ or ‘Batman Begins’. 

Being an origin story, however, has its drawbacks as you never really see the main character do as much cool shit as you’d want them to for majority of the movie, but it’s particularly bad with this one. A lot of the best action sequences, for example, involve Tilda Swinton’s character. Strange’s character in this movie understandably is not advanced enough, which means he does spend an awful amount of time in most enemy encounters simply running away.

The fight sequences in this movie were also quite weak. With fucking magic being involved you’d expect something truly impressive but the characters time and again conjure the same weapons and engage in the same boring combat, which lacks the visceral feel of the fight sequences in some of the recent Marvel movies, such as Civil War. There was a lot of scope for more exciting and better choreographed action sequences here and I feel the director dropped the ball on that.

The movie also rushes through some parts. The part where Strange is training seem to go by very quickly. One moment he is struggling with something and the next moment you see him conjuring complex objects out of thin air. It left me confused whether the movie is overstating his abilities or just had a poor sense of time.

A huge amount of the movie is CGI effects that are, at times, a full-on acid trip. The 3D is put to terrific use here and although some of the sequences reminded me of Inception, by and large it was very impressive and fun to watch. I saw the movie in IMAX and I would recommend that’s how you watch it too as more than half the movie is presented in the IMAX aspect ratio, which will just get cropped in other screens.

The movie also features a lot of humor that we have now come to expect from Marvel movies. But it almost seems at this point the writers know that this is expected of them and at times I felt they were trying too hard. Humor in an action movie works best when used sparingly but when overdone tends to rob some of the more serious and dramatic scenes of their impact, and that happens quite often in this movie.

Overall, I think ‘Doctor Strange’ is reasonably entertaining. The visual effects are stunning, the performances are all good, and there are some good jokes every now and then. I felt that the action sequences could have been longer and better choreographed and we should have gotten a better look at Strange’s abilities, since he is considered one of the most powerful characters in the Marvel universe. The pacing could have been better as well and maybe they should have left some of the jokes out, which didn’t always work. Because of that I’m a bit disappointed but otherwise I’d still recommend a one-time watch.