Marvel dives into magic & mystery! Though the movie excels with its visual and unique storytelling, the story itself is ultimately a familiar one.

The Magical Mystery Tour

Marvel takes its first steps into a new dimension…one magic and mysticism. But trippy visuals and mumbo-jumbo can’t disguise the familiar formula that holds the movie together.

Benedict Cumberbatch plays Dr. Gregory House…a cocky doctor who sustains a terrible injury, forcing himself to seek options elsewhere. Rounding out the cast is Tilda Swinton as The Bald One,  Rachel McAdams as Stock Female Love Interest #4, and This Guy as Karl Mordo.

If my introductory snark relayed a dislike for the movie, don’t worry. I didn’t dislike the movie by any means. It’s a middle of the road Marvel movie, which in the general Hollywood landscape, is still pretty darn good. But with the Marvel quality assurance comes the Marvel formula. It’s a tried and true formula that works wonders for company, so you can understand why it’s here, but when the film tells you “open your mind,” it’s going to apply to the visuals, rather than the story.

And the visuals are fantastic. Not revolutionary, no, but they certainly take the action to a creative place the likes of which we haven’t seen before in a superhero film. If spectacle is what you’re after, Doctor Strange is worth the price of admission on action alone. Heck, it’s even worth a 3D upcharge, as the clever use of space and direction really merit the extra dimension.

It’s not just the action set pieces that are clever, too. There are some small-scale visuals that are unique and haunting. *Raises hand and twiddles fingers* If you’ve seen the movie, you know what that means. Oh, and I can’t tell you how happy I am that a Pink Floyd deep cut has made it into a big budget blockbuster. If you don’t know Interstellar Overdrive, you better brush up on your 1960’s space rock.

The performances in the movie are solid, as to be expected. Cumberbatch makes a believably arrogant genius, Swinton plays an intriguing mentor, and Mikkelsen, though not a stellar villain, at least has motivations beyond “I am evil…ha HA!” Though the third act falters a bit with a somewhat lame confrontation and resolution, the characters ultimately work. I won’t spoil the final battle, if you can call it that, but it will remind you of another “not so good” superhero movie of old.

At the end of the day, Doctor Strange is a visual striking Marvel movie. It’s got that signature sense of humor, that classic origin story structure, and a general level of quality that other studios wish they could claim. It’s not a revolutionary movie, but it certainly is strange.

I’ll stop now.

Alex Russo likes to talk about movies. You can read more of his insane ramblings on Twitter.

Alex Russo

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