Doctor Strange: Magic, Medicine, and Motion Sickness

Monday 2 January 2017

3.5 stars
Doctor Strange is not to be feared if – like me – you disagreed with the casting choices, as it’s actually a nicely crafted addition to the Marvel cinematic universe. It has its faults, of course, but what doesn’t? If you’re willing to accept and look past them then I’m sure you’ll enjoy this film. I know I did.

Going in, I honestly wasn’t expecting this to be much. The trailers had made it look good but not great, and I wasn’t a fan of Benedict Cumberbatch in the lead role. The settings and design looked aesthetically pleasing, but I wasn’t sure about the characters or the story line. I haven’t read any Doctor Strange comics so can’t tell how accurate the portrayals are, but they were well acted and I enjoyed Cumberbatch a lot more than I initially thought I would. I did, however, dislike Swinton in the role of the Ancient One. White-washing of the role aside, she just felt… off. When I hear ‘Ancient One’ my mind immediately jumps to a wise, wrinkled, benevolent person who has clearly seen many years. This would have completely ruined the Ancient One’s plot, but it was what I was expecting what I would have fit the tone and style of the film. It was hard to put my finger on exactly what I would’ve wanted from this role, but it certainly wasn’t what was received.

Poor casting aside, I felt that things were nicely explained – you get Strange’s back story and then you follow him to Nepal and learn with him. You aren’t just shoved into the world and left floundering, as other MCU instalments have done. Strange’s personality is reminiscent of Tony Stark (which I tolerated but didn’t necessarily enjoy), and his story is similarly laid out in how we see the origins of the super powered Doctor Strange from Dr Stephen Strange. And – like with any Marvel film – there were plenty of humorous moments mixed in with the serious to make you chuckle and stay glued to the screen.

That being said, there were several issues with continuity and accuracy, especially towards the beginning of the film. Maybe it’s because I live with a nurse, but I was instantly aware of all the errors the doctors made. There’s no way you’d ever be allowed into a sterile operating room without a face mask on, and you certainly shouldn’t be wearing a wristwatch if you’re a surgeon. I know Marvel is a comic franchise, but come on – fob watches exist for a reason. Special effects also seemed a bit sloppy – most notably in the more trippy scenes – and a poor copy of Inception. Twisting skyscrapers like a Rubik’s cube might look cool, but it’s been done before and isn’t kind on the eyes of those who suffer from vertigo or motion sickness. Fight scenes, as well, were choppy with shaky camera footage that never actually focused on the fighting, but rather chased the characters around and drew the eyes in never ending circles.

Things again end with allusions to Infinity War with the discovery of another Infinity Stone – the green Time Stone – and a teaser that we may be seeing Strange again. I wouldn’t mind seeing him again, as he really wasn’t as bad as I anticipated.


  1. Sorry this wasn't as great as it could have been :( I'm still dying to see it, and I love the thought of Cumberbatch in the lead role, but of course everyone has different opinions!
    Great review!

    Amy @ A Magical World Of Words

    1. It's still a lot of fun - as most Marvel films are. I hope you end up enjoying it more than I did, though!

  2. I did enjoy this, but you're right, the white-washing was disappointing. It also fails the Bechdel test - the female characters never speak to each other.

    1. Honestly, I'm just not a fan of Tilda Swinton either. And when I first read your comment I was like 'but there's only one female character?' so fail in that regard too for not writing women well enough to make them memorable.


Got a thought or an opinion? I'd love to hear it.

design by amanda inez