POP BACK: Doctor Strange (2016)

Written By: Joey Greaber

This is the 14th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). At this point, it takes a lot to really surprise audiences with these films, and show them something that feels fresh and different. Just think about how many film franchises actually have fourteen films that relate to each other in the history of cinema. Pretty tough to do, right? Superhero fatigue is slowly settling in on audiences, whether they realize it or not. There’s been so many of these movies, that they rarely feel special, or unique. Thankfully, Doctor Strange delivers with its fearlessness to get a little weird, and casts a spell on moviegoer’s minds, transporting them to places unlike anything you’ve seen in the MCU.


Dr. Stephen Strange is an extremely smart, rich, and arrogant man, who is later injured in an accident, and must harness a particular power in order to regain his former life. Sound familiar? This film may resemble the original Iron Man in many ways, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing here. Like Iron Man did with Tony Stark in 2008, this film makes us care about Doctor Strange as a person. Odds are that most people who go to see this will have zero attachment to this character, but upon first viewing, it’s easy to understand his appeal. Also, he’s a likeable asshole, just like Tony Stark. I look forward to their eventual banter in the upcoming Avengers films.

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For those that aren’t aware, Doctor Strange is somewhat of a magician, or wizard if you will. He has abilities that enable him to transport to other dimensions, and allow him to fight enemies in ways that the other Avengers could only dream of. Visually, Doctor Strange does an amazing job at presenting the magical aspect of the film on screen. There are some spectacular shots of cities rotating and folding in on each other that are just jaw dropping. I would imagine if one were to see this film after taking a little something to, you know, take the edge off, they would not be bored in the slightest. This movie is trippy, man. I’m not usually a supporter of 3D movies, but Doctor Strange was meant to be seen in IMAX 3D. It’s not that gimmicky type of 3D that makes you feel that your money was wasted. Put your extra money towards the 3D ticket instead of buying that large soda. Ask for a water cup instead.

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The way Doctor Strange explains the magic of its world however, left more to be desired. There were more than a handful of times where a certain word was used that completely lost me. The terminology could have been better presented. Granted, I’m not going to be taking the defense against the dark arts class any time soon, but I needed a little more explanation. I understand that explaining magic is difficult without possibly sacrificing the pacing of the film, But, maybe I’m just not cut out to be a wizard. Despite my confusions, Doctor Strange goes all in with the magic lingo, and I respect that.

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The villain of Doctor Strange falls into the same trap that all the other MCU films so far have fallen into. Kaecilius (yes, I had to Google how to spell that) is your typical bad guy. He has the same power as our protagonist and they inevitably fight. This film doesn’t deserve a pass in that regard, however, during its third act, where just when we think we know exactly what’s about to happen, there’s a great little twist that I feel excuses everything. It kept the weirdness quality going instead of it simply being the destruction of another city. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
But no spoilers here.


As an origin story, this film does a good job of creating its own identity for future films. What Guardians of the Galaxy did so well is that it felt different with its setting, and its protagonists. Doctor Strange does the same here. Even though there are the inevitable references to the MCU, it doesn’t need to use that as a crutch to make the film stand out. Every moment felt like it was earned and the pacing was great. In the pantheon of MCU films, I’d rank Doctor Strange in the upper tier in terms of overall quality.
My diagnosis for this film?     Magical.

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