Cinedote Review – Doctor Strange (2016)

Summary: A former neurosurgeon embarks on a journey of healing only to be drawn into the world of the mystic arts.

Director: Scott Derrickson

Writers: John Spaihts, Scott Derrickson, C. Robert Cargill and Steve Ditko (creator of the character of Doctor Strange)

Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelson and Tilda Swinton.

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   Marvel brings fans a brand new superhero with Doctor Strange hitting theaters on November 4th.  While the cast of good guys that have shown their colours over the past few years have yet to fully immerse themselves in the realm of magic, Doctor Strange gladly levitates his way in to expand the universe to these realms that have yet to be discovered. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, minus his fantastic British accent, as the great Doctor Strange, this latest installment delivers a psychedelic and mind-bending spectacle of a man who is on a journey to rediscover himself. Assisted with a brilliant array of actors, the movie continues to bring glory to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Brilliantly delivering a unique magic system without stepping on its own shoes, Doctor Strange shows us the many wonders of the mind and spirit through magic.

   Among the many sequels to already well-established superheroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this movie brings fans a colourful and dazzling superhero origin story. Even if the story revisits a very familiar Chosen One formula, it is the intricate and mesmerizing world of the mystic arts that help pardon the approach. The movie starts off grounded to only slowly, but surely, flourish in a boundless multiverse that is brilliantly meshed into Earth. As per the usual, Doctor Strange also continues to perpetuate the relentless comedy that makes Marvel movies so family-friendly. Although far from perfection, the sheer stunning visual experience delivered succeeds in dwarfing all the faults and formulaic storytelling. Withal, Doctor Strange remains an entertaining and quality movie that should not be overlooked.

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     Doctor Strange is definitely one of the better Marvel superhero movies to hit the theaters. That doesn’t however mark it as another perfect movie. If looked upon more carefully and not let ourselves ride the waves of fun entertainment, this movie has its own set of problems. I do have to give it to them for being able to hide them properly by giving fans something that is quite rare in cinema nowadays, that is a stunning and kaleidoscopic movie. Doctor Strange is, without any reproach, a visually beautiful movie that plays well with perception and dimensions. It shows that there is a lot more than what the eye can see, only if you are willing to open your mind. This isn’t to advocate the use of some of those powerful and illegal psychedelic drugs out there. Stay away from those things! What Doctor Strange does is show a multilayered universe that can be bent and manipulated through time and space.

     The theme of perception is in fact well dealt with throughout the plot. Besides the obvious manipulation of both visual perception as well as time, the movie also covers the concept of perception that fundamentally drives individuals. In fact, Stephen Strange has lived his whole life as an individual focused on his job and nothing more. His ability to look beyond his self was never existent and this has kept him from being more than what he was as a neurosurgeon. As the movie progressed and through the help of the Ancient One, Strange learns to see the world outside of his box and empathize. He expands his knowledge of understanding people by changing his perception, from being self-centered to being unselfish and thinking of others. His fight with Dormammu clearly shows his character’s evolution, where he prefers to repeatedly die for the sake of humanity. The movie clearly finds its strong suit by exploring the concept of perception.

     Doctor Strange’s story can be seen in multiple parts. As I previously mentioned, it isn’t anything quite complex, but rather something that has often been used in Hollywood movies. The obvious thing about it is that it will always seem to appeal the audience, making it rather hard to stray away from it. What the movie does is follow a sequential storyline that leads us to understand Stephen Strange as the unlucky, and unlikely, fellow who saves the world. The movie can be basically divided into two parts: pre-magic and post-magic. During the pre-magic segment, we’re presented with a down-to-earth drama that leads our arrogant and witty protagonist to hunt for a cure in the heart of Kamar-Taj. The movie dealt with the issue of time quite well, but the transitions sometimes felt a little off and made it sometimes hard to grasp the duration of events. This issue also persists a little during the first part of the post-magic segment.

     In fact, the training that he foregoes to quickly become the majestic Doctor Strange was insane. His mastery of the mystic arts felt like a cakewalk, but definitely a pleasant and fun one. It’s from this point on that you understand the formula that drives this movie. It starts off with a man who needs something and then has to go through a training to obtain it. He is then faced with a villain and uses his training to try and defeat him. He finally ends up winning the battle and preventing a war only to choose between his old and new motivations.  Besides the impossible task to know how long this adventure was, from the moment we see Stephen Strange conduct a surgery in a very joyful manner to the moment we learn about the infinity stone that hung around his neck, the origin story is quite simple for Doctor Strange. It’s in fact the power of the visual effects, coupled with the comedy and the brilliant acting, that helped deliver such an entertaining movie.

     A problem that quickly sprouted from the movie lied in Marvel’s very signature, the comedy. After all, it wouldn’t be a Marvel movie if it didn’t have an abundance of comedy right? The problem was in that very abundance. I don’t know who’s kicking the director’s ass to get him to do this, but the movie had a lot of unnecessary and untimely comic relief. Don’t get me wrong. Benedict Cumberbatch’s personality was on point and there were several hilarious moments—I’m looking at you, sexy red cape. It’s those comedy moments that were put at some of the more serious and climatic moments that were killer. One of those moments that I had a hard time digesting is when Strange picks up a vase relic and Kaecilius pauses to interject about Strange’s ignorance on how to use it. While plenty of people could easily laugh it out, moments like those were a little too many for my taste throughout the movie.

      One of the biggest problems of this movie, and it would probably be the biggest disappointment for me too, was the villain. For those who see the pattern, Marvel continues to struggle in giving their fans a villain that is actually well-developed and absolutely memorable. Their success rate in that department sadly maintains the momentum and now reaches a single-digit percentage. I love Mads Mikkelsen (#praise #hannibal), but man did he not get the chance to shine properly in this one. The movie fails to give the character of Kaecilius enough screen time to shine. With the material and the moments that were actually given to him, the character barely comes out as a terminator (T-1000 anyone?) with a mission that he blindly believes to be for the greater good. Even his awkward moment where he explains his goals while being trapped in that body cage was underwhelming. In the end, because of the comedy and the lack of spotlights on him, Kaecilius felt like a joke waiting to be taken care of. I mean, both Kaecilius and Dormammu had various ways to win, but just didn’t.

      Doctor Strange remains a fun and exciting movie that is worth checking out on a big screen. An IMAX 3D experience would actually be something to think about for this particular superhero too since its visual effects are wildly sensational. Although I went into the theaters today with my love for Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams and Mads Mikkelson, the movie only further crystallized my respect for them. There are changes that could be made to make this movie a timeless masterpiece—by giving the chance for some actors to shine even more for example (Yes, Mads, I know…)—but the final results still manages to stand on its feet and give fans a wonderful experience. The integration of Doctor Strange to the Marvel Universe only makes the upcoming Infinity War even more exciting and hectic. This movie alone also has its own fair share of surprises (like the good-gone-bad Mordo) for a potential Doctor Strange 2.


While Doctor Strange (2016) isn’t exactly based on a particular comic book storyarc, you can definitely check out Doctor Strange: The Oath by Brian K. Vaughan or Doctor Strange: The Way of the Weird (Volume 1) for some great stories!
Have you read anything with Doctor Strange? Did you see the movie?

I’d love to talk about it with you! Tell me what you thought of Doctor Strange! 🙂

MY OVERALL RATING: ★★★★☆/

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36 thoughts on “Cinedote Review – Doctor Strange (2016)

  1. Bookstooge says:

    I watched the cartoon movie of dr strange’s origin, so while I’ll eventually watch this movie, it sure isn’t up top. Heck, I haven’t seen Cap3 yet and I’m starting to lose track of all the super heroes as they just seem to keep flooding out…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Transhaan says:

      Oh, I don’t think you’ve seen the last of the superhero movies to come. 😀 I can see why this one isn’t on the top of the list and that you have yet to see Civil War too. You shouldn’t definitely check it out according to their respective release dates if you ever want to get back in the game. I haven’t watched any Doctor Strange animated movie though. I actually don’t hear too many good things about Marvel’s animated movies. But I can definitely vouch for the amazingness of DC’s animated movies.

      – Lashaan

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Beth (Reading Every Night) says:

    Great review for this film. I saw this with my friend a couple of weeks ago and actually really enjoyed it. I didn’t have high expectations given I knew next to nothing about it but I was completely blown away. The story was amazing but the special effects were beyond anything I’d seen before. Some of them made my eyes hurt a little trying to follow the action but wow.
    I’m definitely excited to see more of Doctor Strange in future Marvel movies, and very excited for the next Marvel movie to be released as well! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Transhaan says:

      Thank you so much! Doctor Strange is probably quite unknown to a lot of folks out there. It’s pretty cool that Marvel managed to bring him into the universe and show the world who’s the Supreme Sorcerer.
      I can’t imagine what an IMAX 3D experience of this movie would be like (I watched it regular, cause that’s how I prefer my movies haha). The effects on regular were trippy enough too. 😛 Here’s to more fun superhero movies!

      – Lashaan

      Liked by 1 person

      • Beth (Reading Every Night) says:

        He was unknown to me for sure but now I want to learn more about him, and some of the other more obscure Marvel characters who could be in the works to get their own film one day maybe.
        Oh seeing it in 3D must have been amazing, me and my friend saw it in 2D as well because of the same reason.
        Yep, can’t wait to see what they come out with next! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  3. healed1337 says:

    I haven’t had time to see this yet. November is easily the busiest month of the year for me thanks to NaNoWriMo (I’m helping lead my region this year too). Everything I’ve heard about this movie sounds good though. Of course, you’re not the only person I’ve heard saying that the villain is disappointing. That seems to be a common trend with Marvel movies. Out of their 14 so far, only Red Skull, Loki, Winter Soldier and Hydra infiltrating SHIELD are all that memorable. And the last two were in the same movie.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Transhaan says:

      Hope you’ll enjoy the movie once you get the chance to check it out! It’s definitely an entertaining movie, and its visual effects are probably what makes it stand out so much. And, indeed, Marvel and villains seems to a problem that will continue to persist (maybe Thanos or Ragnarok will bring some joy for us?). Winter Soldier was probably their best villain/anti-hero yet for me.

      – Lashaan

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  4. Agent of Chaos says:

    Good review! Very detailed. I saw Doctor Strange a few weeks ago and I thought it was a good and definitely visually stunning film, but it has its flaws. Especially in matters of Marvel’s “villain problem”. Marvel villains are seldom convincing, Loki was the big exception. But all the other villains? Not very compelling. Which is a shame, considering the fact that Marvel often gets great actors to play the villains. I mean, Mads Mikkelsen?! Hannibal Lecter?! Kaecillius had great potential, but the film never really used it. It wasn’t Mads’ fault, he did his best, I think it was more of a screenplay related problem. But hopefully, Marvel can get a grip on its “villain problem”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Transhaan says:

      Thank you so much for the kind words. Totally agree with you. Marvel seems to be so inclined to deliver a hero-oriented story where the focus is mainly on the good guys + their problems, and their ability in winning against evil. This makes most of their villains as simple obstacles who don’t have their own stories and their own moments to shine. Having Hannibal among your cast seemed like a fantastic step into fixing your villain issue, but it seems like the screenwriters, indeed, have continued to neglect the villain and preferred to give fans a more silly villain with comic relief pretty much everywhere. I hope Thanos doesn’t end up having a scene where he pauses in the middle of an intense and serious scene, only to throw us a joke or something… All we can do is hope that they give villains a chance!

      – Lashaan

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      • Agent of Chaos says:

        You’re absolutely right! Good villains need their own story and their own moments to shine, otherwise they remain shallow characters without any depth. I’m really counting on the Russo brothers to solve Marvel’s villain problem. They did a great job on The Winter Soldier and Civil War, hopefully they can repeat that with the Infinity War films. It’d be a shame if Thanos ended up as an unconvincing villain (I’m thinking of Ultron in Age of Ultron, not very convincing as well). What bothers me the most is that Marvel’s villains have great potential, but it’s barely used. Hopefully, Marvel will change its villain policy. I won’t give up hope. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Chris Evans says:

    Excellent review good sir, I really enjoyed reading your thoughts and it’s great that they pretty much mirror mine (wish I’d thought of popping in an anti-drugs message as well though!).

    I’m especially glad to hear that there’s someone else out there that agrees with me on the comedic aspects of the film, which really ‘derails’ the whole thing in – some significant – parts for me. In particular it robs a real sense of menace and danger when Strange first faces Kaeclius (vase quips? Body cage silliness?). Folks bash the DC films for taking things so seriously but in all honesy I feels that can produce something grander and more memorable – don’t get me wrong I enjoyed the dark humour in Suicide Squad and like some of the lighter moments hinted at in the Wonder Woman and Justice Leauge trailers, but please don’t turn on the Marvel-style slapstick!

    I’d have much preferred the more mysterious and brooding character from the early Lee/Ditko comics and from Brian Michael Bendis’s New Avengers run from the mid-2000s. It would’ve also been interesting if they perhaps had Strange narrate his origin story and have the whole film as a sort of flashback, but the problem we have now is that these films are so successful that Marvel/Disney will adhere to a certain formula.

    In the end though, as you point out it’s the visuals and the cast performances win out and I’ve no doubt that Strange will grow to become one of the MCU’s leading characters in Infinity War and beyond.

    Thanks for checking out my review, always good to hear from you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Transhaan says:

      Seriously man. I swear if Thanos ends up making a bunch of jokes and killing any of his ability to raise havok and fear in people, I’m going to end up facepalming. I really hope the villains in the MCU won’t end up being another Ultron, and at least try and make their villains memorable (looks at their Netflix TV shows).

      Having Strange narrate his story would’ve been such a unique cinematic touch. But I totally agree. Marvel/Disney are really stuck in trying to repeat the same formula that is constantly giving them success to this date. There’s no incentive to switch things up and change the way the story is told.

      I’m just glad we have a DC Universe where villains are far from being their problem (maybe just in Suicide Squad, but that movie had a slightly different tone compared Man of Steel or BvS). I hope that DC just doesn’t fall to the mercy of critics and Marvel’s cinematic success and change their way of telling stories. While they may have their own faults, I still thoroughly enjoy the director’s vision and the way the these movies are done.

      Either way, I’m still excited for the upcoming Marvel and DC movies though. Totally looking forward to what they have in store for fans! 🙂 Thank you for checking out my review as well mate! 😛

      – Lashaan

      Liked by 1 person

      • Chris Evans says:

        Totally with you on that mate, Thanks needs to be then ultimate villain who has no time for jokes – just pure menace and threat! Likewise I’m still looking forward to future MCU and DC films and yeah I have my fingers (and toes) crossed that DC continued to do there own thing – at least BvS and SS made a lot of money despite the poor critical receptions and they now have DC comics God Geoff Johns heavily involved 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Aila @ One Way Or An Author says:

    Awesome review! Totally see what you’re getting at with the unexpected humor, but I thought it fit the Marvel theme hehe. The cape scenes were pretty golden. Also I agree about the disappointing, but I dunno, these days my expectations for superhero villains are super low. Honestly the only ones I enjoy watching are the multifaceted ones that get a lot of screen time and exploration like Loki. Love the effects for Doctor Strange though, the psychedelic scenes were soooo wickity wack and I enjoyed every single second.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Transhaan says:

      Thank you so much! 😀 I just felt like the unexpected humor were sometimes misplaced in this movie in particular. It’s as if they were leading you on to feel the intensity of a confrontation and to suddenly bring it back to zero because of those jokes. Then again, I’m sure these moments resonated throughout the crowd with roars of laughter! 😛 Marvel’s villain problem can definitely be fixed if they only decide to give them the chance to do so. I mean, they do an OUTSTANDING job with their Netflix shows after all! And yaaas, Doctor Strange will still go down as a visually beautiful movie. Nothing like a little bit of a kaleidoscope-simulation to brighten our days! 😀

      – Lashaan

      Like

  7. The Entertainment Lister says:

    I really appreciate the 2 part review. 🙂 However, I must say that I fall within the small collective who didn’t quite enjoy this movie. I think more than the movie itself, I was disappointed with how Marvel seems to make the same mistakes – villians that lack depth, ill-placed humor and lack of character developement for the romantic interest. Even Dr. Strange’s transformation sequence felt rushed. They could have done so much. Not having read the comics myself, I found it a little hard to follow. Also, the 3D experience was nothing special. So overall, this one was quite a damper for me.

    I am a newbie blogger. Do visit : https://theentertainmentlister.wordpress.com/ where I share my musings on all things movies, music and TV. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Transhaan says:

      Thank you so much for checking out my review! I TOTALLY understand the problems you saw in this movie, in fact, I’ve mentioned half of those issues in this review too hahah. I also see how Doctor Strange’s transformation could’ve been done a bit less quick (its why I mention the problem of not being able put a timeline to the movie (the training probably lasted years…), but man they could’ve definitely done this differently. Then again, this has been Marvel’s formula for quite some time now! Will definitely check out your blog! 🙂

      – Lashaan

      Liked by 1 person

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