Doctor Strange movie review: Nothing about the film seems real

Doctor Strange movie review: Everything is forgotten in the brilliant Inception-like reimagining of cities, streets and buildings that the film deploys, as The Ancient One and her pupils battle out Kaecilius and his lynchpins in different dimensions.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Written by Shalini Langer | New Delhi | Updated: November 4, 2016 6:32 pm
Doctor Strange movie review, Doctor Strange review, Doctor Strange, Doctor Strange movie, Doctor Strange film review, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen, Tilda Swinton, Rachel McAdams, Hollywood, Marvel, MCU, Marvel Cinematic Universe, Entertainment news, Indian Express news Doctor Strange movie review: The script lets the film down in many places, with lame jokes trying hard to draw out laughs.

Doctor Strange movie cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Mads Mikkelsen
Doctor Strange movie director: Scott Derrickson

From the turned-up collar of his ‘Cloak of Levitation’ to the slightly upturned twinkly eyes, from the well-earned snobbery to the fact that he is played by Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock Holmes informs many frames of this latest Marvel offering. Fans of Arthur Conan Doyle will also recall Holmes wasn’t averse to Eastern mysticism, while newer ones know he can be a surgeon as obnoxiously ingenious as Dr. House. What’s there not to like about this superhero then?


Well, how about the fact that he is a superhero?

Here is a film providing a dazzling, actually psychedelic, stage to a hero who operates in a “multiverse”, crosses between “mirror dimensions” and “dark dimensions”, safeguards “sanctums”, and fights villains in the “mystic world”, while almost nothing gets affected “in the real world”. It didn’t need to co-opt a genius like Holmes fighting very real demons, within and outside, in a very real world with its very real problems. Doctor Strange tries very hard to ride that horse and only breaks into a trot when it finally decides to be what it is.

There is much to like about Doctor Strange from then on, particularly Tilda Swinton’s The Ancient One as the Sorcerer Supreme preserving the world from the dark powers. Her almost eyelash-less gaze, under a bald pate crisscrossed by two sinewy nerves, is enough to still your world — let alone Dr. Strange’s. A celebrated and arrogant neurosurgeon who only takes up intellectually stimulating cases, Dr. Strange lands at her doorstep after a horrific accident (captured in shocking impact) leaves his nerves severely damaged and his hands useless. At home, Dr. Strange leaves behind a fellow doctor, Christine Palmer (McAdams, who incidentally also played a prominent character in Robert Downey Jr’s Sherlock Holmes), nursing a broken heart.

The Ancient One runs her center in Kathmandu, and while in the original Marvel comic, she is a he and a Tibetan, here she is given Celtic origins (delicate Chinese sensibilities matter, particularly when one of the stages of the final battle in the film is Hong Kong). Before Dr. Strange sweeps everyone off their feet at the Kathmandu center, The Ancient One’s senior-most pupil is a grim-faced Mordo (Ejiofor), and the wisest one is the caretaker of her library that holds the secrets of the “multiverse”, Wong (Wong).

The unlearning and re-education of Dr Strange is done nicely, though don’t go around looking for any sensible logic. Both Swinton and Cumberbatch know how to work with this material, and lend it just the right amount of levity. The script itself (with director Derrickson also the co-writer) lets the film down at many places, with lame jokes trying hard to draw out laughs. The constant, unnecessary chatter also does its intelligent cast no good. A lot of talk deals with time — it being the ultimate villain and “an insult”; the quest for eternal life; and how time is moved back and forth, is caught in a loop, and surfaces in a space-time continuum of the sort you better not ponder over.

Almost everything is forgotten, however, in the brilliant Inception-like reimagining of cities, streets and buildings that the film deploys, as The Ancient One and her pupils battle out Kaecilius (Mikkelsen) and his lynchpins in different dimensions. A former pupil of The Ancient One, Kaecilius has crossed over to the dark lord. It is difficult to get us to care, though, given that this re-arrangement of backgrounds doesn’t spring from any thought process, or leads to any real consequences.

In fact, but for the main characters, nothing about the film seems real. Doctor Strange could do with a little normal.

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  1. A
    Akhil Babel
    Nov 6, 2016 at 12:27 pm
    How do you manage to be so dumb?
    1. D
      Nov 5, 2016 at 7:54 pm
      Wow... that was dumbest review ever!
      1. V
        Nov 6, 2016 at 6:25 pm
        What are you writing? This is the most foolish review i have ever read. Do you have any sense bashing a movie like Dr. Strange ? Guys i had a great time at movie, i highly recommend you guys to watch it. Stop wasting your time with such super foolish reviewers.
        1. A
          Nov 6, 2016 at 12:16 pm
          Oh! And that's why I would love to hate the reviewer. "Maybe Dr. Strange could do with normal",;br/gt;I mean, are you even thinking before and reading it after?lt;br/gt;In short, this review must be reviewed by a real critic.
          1. S
            Serving it
            Nov 6, 2016 at 3:49 pm
            Indian express needs to stop asking dumbes to write reviews. The movie was amazing
            1. C
              Nov 5, 2016 at 9:33 am
              Dear Editor,lt;br/gt;Get your head straight, you have unrealistic standards!
              1. C
                Nov 6, 2016 at 10:20 am
                You are so dumb.
                1. D
                  Nov 4, 2016 at 7:24 pm
                  It was a really good movie, the special effects were a treat..the movie is based on a comic book character, surprising to know that people want it to be more real🤔🤔🤔
                  1. F
                    Fahaad Ismail
                    Nov 7, 2016 at 7:03 pm
                    The dumbest review I have ever read. I mean its clear you have no idea about who or what doctor strange is before you watched the movie. But to actually try using your logic and reasoning in a MOVIE ? that too a superhero movie based on the comic book character. My sincere advice. If you wanna write a review, then please do some research on the character before you watch that movie for a better understanding. And sincere advice to INDIAN EXPRESS, please dont publishing reviews from these kinda dumb hasbeens on a critic.
                    1. L
                      Nov 6, 2016 at 6:03 pm
                      Humor, physics, metaphysics and spectacular visuals delicately woven together creates a fine and exquisite masterpiece that is Dr Strange. The humor was spot on and well timed. The reviewer apparently knows nothing about movies and hates her job. Highly recommended watch.
                      1. M
                        Nov 6, 2016 at 6:27 pm
                        Just one word for u! Get lost!
                        1. M
                          Nov 9, 2016 at 5:19 pm
                          Can't believe it's 2016 and people are still getting butthurt over mixed reviews about their favorite movies. Everybody has their own opinion and while you can disagree with this movie review logically, calling it dumb just reflects how childish your thinking is. They're hired critics for a reason, not just simply pulled off from the streets. You having a fun time and seeing it as the best movie of the year doesn't mean that it cannot take a criticism. Critics obviously have higher standards and there really is no surprise that a mixed review is given as this movie was only decent. But of course, majority of you fanboys (Marvel and DC alike) are easily triggered and will disagree with this and that, just about everything that you feel will tarnish these movies. It's time to grow up folks, or you'll remain as 'dumb' as your statements.
                          1. S
                            Subham Agarwal
                            Nov 4, 2016 at 6:24 pm
                            This movie is only good if u are stoned.. i mean really stoned... and i dont like the character from the movie too... i only watched this movie because it is a part of mcu.
                            1. Z
                              Nov 4, 2016 at 1:27 pm
                              A stupidly boring movie with no story to tell.
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