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Doctor Strange

Dr. Strange is the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the latest to introduce a new character and new environment/world to explore during their origin story. 

Benedict Cumberbatch does a great job as the titular Doctor Steven Strange, a cocky and selfish but brilliant surgeon who eventually turns sorcerer after a car accident permanently damages his hands, as do the rest of the cast, especially Rachel McAdams as Christine Palmer, a nurse and Strange's ex, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Mordo, a fellow sorcerer, Tilda Swinton as Strange's teacher The Ancient One, and Mads Mikkelsen as the villain Kaecilius. All the main characters in the cast are wonderful acted and their relationships are really strong and heartfelt (there are some moments that are really sad and heart tugging) , especially the chemistry between Cumberbatch and McAdams. The majority of the character arcs are strong and effective as well.

The visuals and special effects are extremely well done and imaginative, as are the fight scenes. Unfortunately, two major elements of this movie hinder all the positive elements of the movie, preventing me from giving a higher rating: Strange's character arc and the world of the movie that the story takes place in.

With Strange's character arc, it just feels rather muddled. I was never really sure whether his arc was going from a selfish jerk to a more selfless person, finding a way to move on and find a new purpose in life after his accident, to forget everything he knew and see things in a new life, embrace death, or all of the above, because they felt all over the place, so I was never quite clear about what it wanted to say.. Not only that but, while it did show some progression of an arc (like Stephen practicing and learning these new skills, a lot of times, they felt really rushed, like I didn't know that Strange has been training for several months until a character says it, but it only feels like a few days. Then suddenly, he is thrown into a new location where he'll be ending up at the end of the film. The arc was in so many pieces that only the relationships he had with Palmer and Mordo felt emotionally earned (even the crossover during the credits felt rushed as well).

With the world that the story takes place in, I love the idea of someone exploring eastern methods of healing and spirituality (indeed Buddhism and Hinduism sound like very intriguing topics), but the film is so vague and confusing with the "other worlds, dimensions and planes of existence) element, that, when mixed with Strange's muddled character arc, I didn't find myself caring as much about the overall story as I should have, and I don't have much of a desire to see the film again. 

Maybe I will catch more details on a second viewing and if they fix these two problems while keeping the other elements strong in a sequel, then I will totally be on board. Until then though, I find this only an okay addition to the MCU and a meh addition to the origins section of the MCU library (Go to the first Iron Man and Captain America: The First Avenger for the absolute best of that section).

3 stars out of 5


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