By Nick Erickson, Staff writer
When it comes to Marvel films, the special effects are not typically the highlight of the film. Rather, primary focus is shifted on matching storyline accuracy to that of the comics the film is based around. However, as apparent by its newest installment, the money invested into the Marvel universe these past few years (The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy etc.) might finally start being used to exploit the wonders of CGI technology. “Doctor Strange”, envelops puzzling, jaw-dropping visual effects akin to the likes of “Inception”, but the eye-candy alone might not be enough to please all, or stand-out in a swamp of superhero flicks.
Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a genius, wealthy neurosurgeon whose narcissism rivals that of Tony Stark from the “Iron Man” trilogy. After being distracted looking at medical documents while driving, he gets into a car accident that costs him his hands. As surgery after surgery fails, he becomes more cruel and reclusive to everyone. Before long, Strange finds himself under the wing of The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) in Nepal, who opens him up to worlds he had never seen before, transcending between dimensions and outer space, revealing to Strange that the world contains much more than what science alone can explain, learning that energy can be harnessed to manipulate reality around him. A former student of The Ancient One’s, Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), attempts to summon the ruler of the Dark Dimension, where mortality is obsolete, using a forbidden spell. This spell, which would destroy the sanctums located in three of the world’s major cities, are buildings with the power to keep Earth in balance. As they begin to be decimated, it’s up to Strange to take the sorcerer down before the planet is doomed forever.
Director Scott Derrickson, known for horror flicks such as “Sinister” and “The Exorcism of Emily Rose”, has done his part in giving his audience quite a visual experience. As soon as eyes meet the big screen, “Doctor Strange” is breathtaking visually. The plot rarely loses pace, thanks to the incredible use of special effects. The CGI technology perfectly executes an intense visual experience for viewers.
In “Doctor Strange,” scenes resemble scenes from “Inception”, which arguably had groundbreaking visual effects in itself. Buildings invert and flip upside down, thin air fluctuates and wobbles like a stone to water. It’s a lot to take in, but it’s mesmerizing, for sure, despite all of its trippy, wondrous effects, “Doctor Strange” unfortunately falls flat in the other departments.
The film does not set the bar for telling a good story and is a classic case of “good guy saves the world from bad guy”. Underneath the glamour, the narrative of the film is rather unremarkable. “Doctor Strange” suffers from the common flaw that plagues a majority of Marvel films: the character’s script usually lacks memorability.
On a brighter note, the positive character development is captured well. Strange has both a battle with others and with himself. From fighting to regain the use of his hands and fight for his life, Cumberbatch captures the transition from arrogance to humility throughout the film. While dialogue might be lackluster at times, his acting skills equate a bit for the less prominence of other characters’ importance. “Doctor Strange” will fail to please those looking for strong scriptwriting and a plot innovative enough to pull them in based solely on that. It will, however, succeed in giving viewers the cinematic display of a lifetime.