Sam’s Take: Doctor Strange

Illustration by Kate O’Leary

For nearly a decade the Marvel cinematic universe has dominated the box office while making consistently great films.

Yet many, including myself, have gotten superhero fatigue in the past few years as all of their films have started to feel the same.

In an effort to add something weird to the mix, Marvel has released “Doctor Strange,” which follows a mystic wizard with unimaginable powers fighting enemies beyond our dimension. Luckily, this bizarre concept is the perfect way to bring some life to the stale superhero genre.

What immediately struck me about “Doctor Strange” are the visuals, which are not only impressive, but psychadelic. Director Scott Derrickson and the visual effects team take full advantage of the dimension-bending concept and put some impressively trippy and colorful visuals on screen.

This leads to some of the most creative action scenes I’ve seen in a big-budget film. Instead of watching the characters simply punch bad guys, they are changing the structure of the room and of reality itself. They’re also creating weapons made of magic energy that can morph and change during the fight. The fight scenes are also highlights of the film’s comedic chops, leading to some hilarious scenes that are almost cartoonish.

These impressive elements are accompanied with interesting characters and concepts ripe for exploration. What sells these the most are the actors, with Benedict Cumberbatch and Tilda Swinton as Strange and The Ancient One respectively stealing the show.

While these concepts are “Doctor Strange’s” biggest strengths, it’s also one of its weaknesses in terms of the villain. He is trying to bring a cosmic terror to Earth, and while that aspect is interesting, it’s more interesting than the villain himself. All he does is look menacing and spout tired “evil” lines at the heroes.

There’s also an issue in the pacing, which moves too quickly for its own good. We don’t get the time to see Strange train or feel what the characters feel. The final moments also feel rushed, sloppily leaving crumb trails for a sequel.

Despite shortcomings, “Doctor Strange” is one of the most visually imaginative films to come from Hollywood in years. It’s full of inventive and funny actions scenes, great actors, and infinite possibilities for sequels and cameos in the other Marvel films. See this on the big screen and prepare to have a great time.

Rating: Perfect if you’re a Marvel fan, a visual effects fan, or if you’re in an altered state of mind.

Samuel Goodrich, Staff Writer

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