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Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange
[letterboxd import]

As a fan of the character (one of the few times I've read almost everything I can before seeing the movie), I enter Doctor Strange with a little bias. Is it the perfect Marvel film, is it everything you've wanted as a fan of the comic? No, that's probably The Avengers. Is it the worst Marvel MCU film ever! They ****ed it up! Critics paid them out! ...No, **** you. That spot belongs to Iron Man 2 or Thor: The Dark World. Doctor Strange is exactly what it needs to be; a lighthearted introduction to a massively different lore to the rest of the MCU.

Enter Benedict Cumberbach as the titular egotistical surgeon turned sorcerer. Eggs Benedict does a fine job here, sporting an American accent that is actually not distracting at all (I had my worries). Our hero is written wonderfully by C. Robert Cargill (Carlyle from Spill.com for all you film critic fans of yesteryear out there), and taken straight out of the pages of the Stan Lee/Steve Ditko era. Stephen Strange is full to the brim of flaws, his ego being the primary one. His overconfidence and narcissism land him in an accident, permanently damaging his control of his hands. Enter, Nepal.

Strange is introduced to a whole new universe in his search for a cure. Tilda Swinton's Ancient One finds Strange and shows him the way of the mystic arts to cure himself...and find a new path to his destiny.

As said before, it's not perfect. Derrickson directs the flick with confidence and a keen eye for bizarre visuals. Visuals is a word you'll hear a lot of when discussing the film, because that's certainly the main draw. Worlds bend, twist, flip and universes smash together in a wave of trippy effects and fluorescent colour. It's a wonder, but also a distraction from a pace that's just a little too fast for it's own good. When the film stops to let characters breathe, reflect, interact and develop, it's ****ing great. A late scene between Cumberbach and Swinton is probably the best example of strong development in the MCU, but similar moments are lost in the breakneck race to the climax. The films itself is a wonder, but does let itself down with a surprisingly short runtime. I was amazed when it ended, thinking that there could have easily been another 30 minutes and nobody would have felt it.

The same problem of weak villains emerges here, but it's far more forgivable than say, Thor: The Dark World. The focus is where it should be; Dr. Stephen Strange. Our hero has a brand new journey, and a whole different universe to introduce us to, and I am pleased that the film takes time to ease us into it, and then let it explode all around us.

Supporting characters here are fantastic. Benedict Wong is the highlight as a Librarian of the Mystic Arts, and Chiwetel Ejiofor is excellent as the dramatic anchor and a character that fans of the comics will know all-too-well. I've mentioned it, but characters are really where the film excels.

Michael Giacchino graces the Marvel Cinematic Universe with his presence and gives us one hell of a score. Unlike some of the more generic tunes of Age of Ultron, Giacchino lets the visuals boom even more with wonderful and wacky tunes. Not to take credit away either, as the dramatic moments are increased by his subtle notes and touches. I don't bring scores up too much, but this is one of the MCU's best.

Doctor Strange isn't a masterpiece. It has it's flaws, but it also has some solid gold strengths. It'll please crowds and fans of the comic, and it certainly tickled my fancy plenty. Strong characters, visuals, score and writing elevate the thinner story and disappointing villain ( and from Hannibal Lecter himself!). It's a great character-piece with a fun ride attached to it, and certainly better than what most of 2016 has given us.