By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com
Of all the characters in the Marvel Comics encyclopedia, I have to say that Doctor Strange remains one of my all-time favorites.
Every time I played Marvel Ultimate Alliance on my Nintendo GameCube, I always put him on my team because of his omnipresent magical capabilities. Also, his recently relaunched comic book series (penned by Kansas City native Jason Aaron and art by Chris Bachalo) remains the only solo title I collect from the House of Ideas.
When I heard that the Sorcerer Supreme was going to make a house call on the silver screen, I bypassed Captain America: Civil War and put my eggs in one basket and decided it was going to be the only Marvel film I see in theatres this year. This movie actually rocked!
From the Ancient One (elegantly played by the fierce Tilda Swinton)’s first confrontation with the film’s antagonist Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) and his followers to Doctor Strange’s transformative visit to the astral plane, this movie was a pure joy to watch from start to finish.
Benedict Cumberbatch’s on-point portrayal of the arrogant surgeon turned magic practitioner ushered in a new chapter of Marvel cinema. He mastered the character of Stephen Strange and charisma radiated from the screen. There might be a strong possibility that Cumberbatch’s Strange may replace either Robert Downey, Jr.’s Tony Stark or Chris Evans’ Captain America as a central character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s future. If that scenario plays out, I honestly believe that Cumberbatch is a worthy candidate to be one of the anchors of this impeccable franchise.
Fans were a bit irate during the film’s initial casting announcements when they announced that Oscar-winning actress Tilda Swinton and Golden Globe-nominated actor Chiwetel Ejiofor were cast as the Ancient One and Strange’s future rival, Baron Mordo, respectively. The fans thought that they should have had an Asian actor portray the mentor, while they expected a white actor would play the wicked warlock. However, both actors delivered excellent performances and proved fanboys wrong. Hopefully, this is not the last we see of each character.
Two additional strengths came from Doctor Strange’s story and cinematography. The screenplay was written by Scott Derrickson (who also directed the film), and C. Robert Cargill, while Jon Spaihts assisted the duo with drafting the overall story. Peppered throughout the feature were great pieces of dialogue with zingers and jokes mixed in. I highly recommend watching the scenes where Strange interacts with Wong (Benedict Wong) at the Ancient One’s library, moviegoers will get a few chuckles out of the awkward exchanges.
The cinematography was out of this world! At times, moviegoers would think that they were watching Marvel Studios’ version of Inception especially during the duels between Strange, Mordo, and the Ancient One with Kaecilius and his forces. Cinematography director Ben Davis and his team deserve kudos (and hopefully award nominations) for bringing the Sanctum Sanctorum and the Dark Dimension (and its ruler) to life.
Final thoughts & grade: Doctor Strange is probably one of the best Marvel Studios films that the movie company has made this decade outside of Avengers: Age of Ultron and Guardians of the Galaxy. With its excellent acting ensemble, sturdy screenplay, and outstanding cinematography, they made the wishes of many true believers come true and set the bar extraordinary high for future superhero films. A+