An intriguing, beautiful spectacle of brilliant CGI and Marvel storytelling.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is constantly changing, evolving and building, yet also staying the same. With each new movie the studio takes the audience on a variety of experiences and genres, despite all being superhero films. The Winter Soldier (2014) is a spy thriller, Ant-Man (2015) is a heist film, Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) is a war film and Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) is a space opera science fiction. Doctor Strange is no different, it’s a mythical martial arts/samurai style of film delving into the Orient, the power of the soul and magic. It’s due to these changes in style, genre, visuals, settings, tropes etc. to these films that keeps them from feeling stale, a large problem with the DC cinematic universe.
Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), a very successful neurosurgeon, embarks on a journey of healing but instead discovers this mythic and magical world. This is something that we, as MCU audience members, are also discovering for the first time. This magic is drawn from other dimensions, worlds and universes in the multiverse which has never before been brought into the MCU. It’s a whole new chapter for them to explore and unfold as we eventually lead to Infinity War and Thanos (a mad titan and the big ‘finale’ of all of the Marvel Studios films incorporating many of the characters and plots of previous films).
Scott Derrickson (director) does a splendid job of blending these magical aspects with the modern day, real world into a compelling plot about an arrogant, selfish and, above all, failure fearing man who learns of the importance of selflessness. He opens his mind to realise he does not know everything like he once thought, and that there is far more for him to consider, which evolves him into a master of the magical arts who’s willing to put his life on the line for the good of others. Cumberbatch does a very good job of portraying the character too, which Marvel always seem to nail perfectly when casting their films. He looks the part, acts the part etc. and just feels so at home in the role, just as Robert Downey Jr. does as Iron Man.
The resolution to the film is also something very unique to the MCU, and film in general, which shows off Doctor Strange’s powers even more in a fun and clever way, but more so it presents the amazing power of the latest infinity stone, the time stone, and how it’s powers can be used to bend and alter time.
Now, for those unaware, the infinity stones (or gems) are six stones that hold great and varying power within the Marvel comics. They are the space, reality, mind, power, soul and time stones (all of which but the soul stone have now appeared in the MCU). Collected together the user would hold vast, almost unrestricted power which is exactly what Thanos is after and what the MCU has been building to – Infinity War.
Getting back to Doctor Strange however, a huge aspect to the film is the spectacular CGI and special effects that are in use which are truly mind-bending and jaw-dropping. There are world altering chase and fight sequences which look spectacular as buildings, roads etc. shift and bend as if they were toys. It truly shows the power of this new world and new characters, as well as being very impressive to watch.
As a fan of these MCU films, Doctor Strange is a brilliant, refreshing addition to the universe which brings a lot of new elements to the table, changing the way in which the cinematic universe works and the scale of it.
As a film-lover, it’s a visually impressive, fun, uniquely action-packed film with it’s creative use of CGI and expanded world which makes for an entertaining watch.