Movie Review: Doctor Strange on Netflix

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Movie Review: Doctor Strange on Netflix

by Rob Jefchak

As of this posting, Doctor Strange is only available on Netflix in two countries: Canada and the USA.  It showed up on both on May 30th, 2017.  Check out the up-to-the-minute availability on our Doctor Strange on Netflix page, or unlock it no matter where you live using the steps on our Get American Netflix page.

Superheroes may come off as a flavor that is rapidly saturating many reviewers and celebrities, but clearly Marvel’s champion train isn’t slowing down anytime soon, and with more diverse options brewing in the distance like “Black Panther” and “Captain Marvel”; it’s clear this is a flavor that is going to stick around and leave many aftertastes for many years and movies to come. While “Thor” was perceived to be Marvel’s mystical building block, their stacking tower still lacked a genuinely magical based superhero to mass market into the next “Iron Man” or “Guardians of the Galaxy”; enter “Doctor Strange.” As per the usual, Marvel plans to turn a lesser known hero into a big name, so it’s no surprise big name “Sherlock” and “Star Trek Into Darkness” star Benedict Cumberbatch was signed on to play the sorcerer supreme.

Talented yet arrogant neurosurgeon Stephen Strange (Cumberbatch) loses his master, medical touch after experiencing a crippling car accident. Forced to turn to the mystic arts for an unknown cure, he seeks aid from the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) to cure him of his crippled hands. Unfortunately it’s not that simple, dark forces and enemies of all that is good are attempting to overthrow the Ancient one and use all magic towards the powers of darkness. Now Strange must learn of alternate realities, mind bending spells and power unlike anything his scientific mind can conceive to save the world from mystical forces that are rapidly becoming known to him and the rest of humanity.

While suffering a bit more severely from the usual complaints people have unjustly lobbed at Marvel movies (weak villain, generic same tone/feel as other films), “Doctor Strange” produces an abundancy of variety in many other areas and transforms itself into easily the trippiest and strangest entry in Marvel’s unstoppable chain of cinematic universal heroes. “Strange” takes visual flare to a staggeringly impressive new level. The use of magic produces unforgettable imagery that sticks with you; even if certain characters or other elements do not. Everything from collapsing/flipping buildings, interdimensional beings and astral projected body brawls is presented here with stunning, spectacular visualized effects that sparkle like the most cosmic eye candy ever crafted to screen. It’s true that special effects aren’t everything, but when your character’s source of power and strength are solely dependent on them, it helps if you do it right.

In early superhero film days, more attention was on the villain rather than the hero. Jack Nicholson as the Joker actually got top billing in Michael Keaton’s premiere Batman movie, and more people cared about what villain Spider-man was going to fight in Sam Raimi’s “Spider-man 2” than what Toby Maguire was doing in that movie. Marvel has been giving the hero plenty of exposition and giving the villain few too many scraps to feed off of; same can be said here. Cumberbatch is no doubt the perfect fit for this mystical hero. He’s got the look, the attitude, the smarminess and the chops to rub elbows with the likes of Thor and Captain America. Tilda Swinton and Chiwetel Ejiofor are always a treat on screen; together or a part. If anything, they could have provided as much entertainment if they took center stage here.

Rachel McAdams feels too typecast as sidelined girlfriend chopped liver; with little to expand or explore by the time the final credits roll, which is a shame. An even bigger shame befalls Mads Mikkelson, the film’s centerpiece villain. His explanation, screen time and effectiveness are all rushed without much impact taking place. It’s a unfulfilled role fulfilled by a truly talented actor and even if “Doctor Strange” is a rather unknown hero, I felt Mikkelson could have made this villain as well-known as Marvel has with Loki, Ultron and Winter Soldier had he just been given more time to shine.

Overall, “Doctor Strange” is a visual fantasy fireworks show that brings an old school, lesser known superhero and puts his name on the spotlight with a top notch cast (though under-utilized at times), interesting use of magic/space physics and brings magic to a whole new level of understanding for the MCE. It doesn’t blow any socks, blocks or brains out of skulls of everyone in the audience, but it’s a movie that’s far better than almost anything DC can weakly cough up.