“Doctor Strange” won’t hit theaters until Nov. 4, but the critics have already seen Marvel’s latest superhero origin story. On Sunday, they released their opinions on the new flick, and they seem to have enjoyed the film.
Benedict Cumberbatch stars as the titular character in “Doctor Strange,” the 14th Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movie, as a surgeon whose hands are injured in a car accident. He goes to seek alternative methods to heal himself, and that’s when he finds the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton). That’s when he learns how to use mystical forces and magic, but he soon realizes that he must defend the world from evil.
It’s a standard Marvel origin story, but that hasn’t stopped critics from loving it. The reviews have been generally positive. Although everyone has a few issues, whether it be underdeveloped secondary characters or humor that misses the mark, critics seemed to have a pretty good time while watching “Doctor Strange.”
The Hollywood Reporter — Critic Todd McCarthy was generally positive, but he emphasized the great casting. “They unquestionably class up the joint by injecting wit, elocution, faces with character and commanding presence into material that needs all the elevation it can get to not seem entirely juvenile,” he wrote.
The Wrap — Though he noted the predictable plot points that come with all superhero origin stories, Alonso Duralde praised the film’s originality. “When magicians battle, it’s not just a matter of fists connecting and buildings collapsing. The action climaxes with a truly impressive finale, one that employs time going in multiple directions that’s like nothing I’ve ever seen in a movie before,” he enthused.
Variety — Peter Debruge was impressed with Marvel for making something that feels similar to the rest of the MCU, but is presented it in a whole new, exciting way. “From this second-tier side character, the studio has created a thrilling existential dilemma in which its flawed hero’s personal search for purpose dovetails beautifully with forays into the occult New Age realm of magic and sorcery where Doctor Strange ultimately finds his calling,” he wrote.
USA Today — According to Brian Truitt, not every joke is perfect, but the movie has some good comic relief. “‘Doctor Strange’ also exhibits a needed sense of humor to balance the world-threatening nature of it all,” he noted. “Some of the goofier gags fall flat but scenes between Strange and hard-nosed librarian/drill sergeant Wong (Benedict Wong) sparkle.”
ScreenCrush — While “Doctor Strange” definitely looks great and delivers great performances, Matt Singer notes that the characters aren’t nearly as intricate as the special effects: “Typically Marvel movies have terrific characters and so-so visuals and action. ‘Strange’ is the opposite; it’s glorious to look at (and the rare blockbuster where the 3D genuinely adds something to the experience) but the people are kind of dull. It’s to Derrickson’s credit that he managed to conjure up images to match his protagonist’s adventurous spirit. But you can see right through his characters, even when their souls aren’t floating outside of their bodies.”
IGN — Eric Goldman also felt some characters could have used more work. In particular, Strange’s girlfriend Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams) and nemesis Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) fell flat, a problem Marvel has had before: “The idea of Mads Mikkelsen playing a Marvel villain is exciting and it’s not like he has nothing to do – indeed, he and Cumberbatch have some fun interplay – but ultimately Kaecilius simply isn’t in enough of the movie to feel fully formed. We are given some info on his backstory and connection to the Ancient One, but it could have been used in bigger, more in-depth ways. Mikkelsen’s performance and what we see Kaecilius use magic to do are compelling enough to make him a decent antagonist, but he’s not a standout.”
ComicBook.com — Although Jeff Cannata had similar gripes about the secondary characters, he was still thrilled by “Doctor Strange.” “It is for sure about demons and dimensions and reality-bending mumbo jumbo, but it is so much fun, so dazzling and inventive, and exciting, that it proves Dr. Strange is worthy of his own film franchise. I can’t wait for more,” he wrote.
Polygon — Allyson Gronowitz also praised the beautiful special effects and encouraged viewers to see it in 3D. “With the 3D effects, you don’t merely watch Doctor Strange’s astral projection trip through the dazzling interdimensional cosmos — you experience it,” she explained. “Seriously, fork over the extra few bucks to see this movie in 3D, and you’ll get a preview of the inevitable Doctor Strange Disneyland ride.”
“Doctor Strange” hits theaters Nov. 4.