I really enjoy movies based on comic books, whether they be based on well known comics like X-Men, or more obscure titles like Hellboy. Every time I watch one (or re-watch one) I write up a post with my thoughts. I try to be spoiler free, but the older the movie, the less careful I am. This time it was the extended edition of the 2016 movie Doctor Strange.
IMDb Rating: 7.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes critics: 89%
Rotten Tomatoes audience: 86%
My Rating: 8/10
One of the first things that struck me as I re-watched this movie was how good the pacing was. I wasn’t able to watch the movie in a single sitting, but I found it hard to find a good place to stop. The plot moves along so quickly and effortlessly that the breaks between acts and scenes were hard to pinpoint.
The story itself is really solid. Strange has a lot of similarities to Tony Stark from the Iron Man movies. He’s arrogant, condescending, and self serving. It isn’t until something traumatic happens to him that he’s willing to set aside his own ego and work on achieving something greater. The difference is that Stark doesn’t truly believe there’s anything greater than himself. He learns to recognize that he’s limited (which is why, in Civil War, he wants accountability and oversight), but he still thinks that he’s in total control. Strange is different. He is forced to recognize that there are far greater forces, and that he has to both serve and command them in order to achieve anything. It will be really interesting to see what happens when the two cross paths.
Another part of the character that I thought was really interesting was how non-violent he was. Doctor Strange is all about defense. He’s capable of protecting himself, but throughout the movie, in every battle, his goal in to detain rather than harm. It’s a nice change of pace from every other Marvel hero.
The most impressive part of the film, though, is the visual effects. They’re psychedelic, fast moving, complex, and beautiful. It’s hard to follow exactly what’s going on in the most effect heavy scenes, but it works well in the movie. It’s supposed to be a little confusing because the whole point is that the rules of this world no longer apply in those places. It felt like the movie took the effects from Inception and removed the barriers that kept them relatable.
The movie’s not perfect. The biggest flaw is the same one found in so many Marvel movies, and that’s that the villain just isn’t that great. Kaecilius doesn’t get much depth, and Dormammu isn’t featured outside the climactic battle. They work for this movie, but they won’t be coming back anytime soon, and will end up being a bit forgettable.
Everything other problem is small. The romantic subplot isn’t really necessary. It’s not forced, but it doesn’t really fit that well either. The Ancient One being played by a white woman rather than an Asian man rubbed some people the wrong way, but it didn’t bother me at all. A lot of the complaints I’ve seen about the movie come across as being a bit nit-picky. Sure, they may be issues to some people, but they don’t really impact the story.
I really enjoy this movie. I’m looking forward to seeing the character again in Thor: Ragnarok, and I’m excited for how he’ll be brought into the Infinity War.