Doctor Strange

Critics Consensus

Doctor Strange artfully balances its outré source material against the blockbuster constraints of the MCU, delivering a thoroughly entertaining superhero origin story in the bargain.

89%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 351

86%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 109,311
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Movie Info

A disgraced former surgeon named Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) becomes a powerful sorcerer under the tutelage of a mystic known as the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton). Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen, and Chiwetel Ejiofor co-star in this entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Directed by Scott Derrickson (Sinister).

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Cast

Benedict Cumberbatch
as Stephen Vincent Strange
Tilda Swinton
as The Ancient One
Rachel McAdams
as Christine Palmer
Chiwetel Ejiofor
as Baron Mordo
Mads Mikkelsen
as Kaecilius
Michael Stuhlbarg
as Nicodemus West
Zara Phythian
as Brunette Zealot
Alaa Safi
as Tall Zealot
Katrina Durden
as Blonde Zealot
Umit Ulgen
as Sol Rama
Linda Duan
as Tina Minoru
Meera Syal
as Dr. Patel
Amy Landecker
as Dr. Bruner
Adam Pelta
as Pauls-Nurse Billy
Adam Pelta-Pauls
as Nurse Billy
Sarah Malin
as Dr. Garrison
Eben Young
as Dr. Weiss
Kobna Holdbrook-Smith
as Smith-Physical Therapist
Elizabeth Healey
as Concerned Doctor
Guillaume Faure
as Reluctant Surgeon
Daniel Dow
as Mugger
Ezra Khan
as Kamar-Taj Librarian
Kimberly Van Luin
as Bullet Patient's Wife
Pat Kiernan
as Himself
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Critic Reviews for Doctor Strange

All Critics (351) | Top Critics (51)

Audience Reviews for Doctor Strange

  • Jun 01, 2019
    Cool fantasy sorcery and some of the best special effects I've ever seen in a movie. Wasn't expecting to like this as much as I did, but this is one of the best lone superhero movies! I read a great post by K.M. Weiland about why the character development wasn't as good as it should've been – Stephen Strange's interpersonal relationships never really evolve in the story, but I guess I don't expect much in the way of char development from superhero movies.
    Letitia L Super Reviewer
  • Jul 18, 2017
    Doctor Strange magically continues Marvel Studios' proven A-Level winning streak in birthing a tortured surgeon-turned-mystic-Demi-God, going all Inception on a Swinging '70s superhero with a predictable but hugely entertaining origin story. In this case, casting is half the battle. In this PG-13-rated fantasy adventure, a brilliant neurosurgeon (Benedict Cumberbatch) is drawn into the world of the mystic arts while on a journey of physical and spiritual healing. In putting Benedict Cumberbatch, who has already perfected his tortured genius schtick with The Imitation Game and BBC's Sherlock, into the bulbously flowing red cape of Steve Ditko's hippie dippie funny book cult classic hero, this movie has zeroed in on the perfect Strange bedfellow. Granted, Ant-Man already bore the brunt of successfully introducing a second-tier superhero into mainstream blockbusterdom (again, chiefly because the casting works) but Doctor Strange proves a considerable step up in regards to story and spectacle. Granted, Ant-Man seemed to be aimed more at a general audience and often skewed more toward comedy than drama but it also felt too polished and manufactured. Oh, Doctor Strange feels quite polished and manufactured as well, but a great deal more inventiveness is used in its execution. Our hero predictably comes up against a Big Bad in an overblown Third Act set piece but the whole magic show is ultimately a mindbending piece of escapism. It's not enough that Strange and Company fight evil. They do so while buildings and city streets fold into each other like an E.M. Escher sketch realized with 9-figure visual effects. The film also focuses on Eastern mysticism without getting too bogged down too much in the spiritual and philosophical touchstones. Appropriate to the genre and audience, the writers keep it breezy and somewhat light while not entirely forsaking some core beliefs. After turning out the dark and stylish but often rote Sinister horror series, Scott Derrickson didn't seem like the obvious choice to take on this long Strange trip, but his direction (under the strict supervision of Marvel Studios and parent company Disney, of course) definitely charts another win for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The only player who gets short shrift is Rachel McAdams in the role of Christine Palmer, the latest less-than-Marvelous obligatory love interest in a thankfully short line of under-served cookie cutter companions that also "boasts" Liv Tyler in The Incredible Hulk and Natalie Portman in Thor. To Sum it Up: Sorcerer Supreme
    Jeff B Super Reviewer
  • May 31, 2017
    You know, I really didn't wanna have to write this review right now (at 11 in the morning). But then if I leave it for later, then I'm racing to get it done before dinner, which is when I watch the movies. I just felt lazy for one reason or another, because the fact that I don't wanna write this out now is not a reflection of what I thought about this movie. In all honesty, I thought this was a very good movie. Not one of Marvel's best, particularly when compared to Civil War (which I still think is the best movie in all of MCU). But let's move on. I remember Scott Weinberg saying on twitter (he's a film critic I follow on that site) that he's impressed by how much work it takes to put together a movie (or a television series) that fits within Marvel's Cinematic Universe. Not only does it have to be a good standalone film, it also has to fit in within that same continuity. There's so many details that have to be kept track of that what Marvel has managed to accomplish with its cinematic universe is nothing short of amazing. Admittedly speaking, though, I think this film manages to exist in its own little cocoon without having to adhere too much to the rest of the continuity from other established franchises. That's not saying that they ignore it, because they don't, but what I mean is that there's not connectivity to other franchises in Marvel's Universe as, say, in Captain America or Iron Man's respective films. And that's a really smart choice, because you're introducing a brand new character to audiences. You need to establish this film's characters and world first before you have Doctor Strange interacting with the Avengers. As far as world building, this isn't as effective a movie as, say, the first Guardians of the Galaxy. And the narrative itself is very basic. Parts of it remind me of Thor in that Doctor Strange is certainly a very arrogant and self-centered individual. He doesn't look at his job (he's a neurosurgeon) as a way to save people, he sees it as a way to elevate his own status in life. This all changes when he gets into a pretty bad car accident in which he loses the use of his hands. After exhausting all methods in the West, he is told of this man, who was completely disabled, who is now able to walk again. This man tells him of this place called Kamar-Taj, where he learned all he needed to heal himself, and he tells Strange to go there. Strange goes to this place, in Nepal, and meets the Ancient One, the Sorcerer Supreme, who opens his eyes and mind to a world of magic that he never thought humanly possible. The narrative is fairly simple and straightforward, it's just an origin story, how this man became the superhero people know and love today. There's also a thinly-written villain, Kaecilius, that is elevated by the badassery of one Mads Mikkelsen. Basically, this villain wants to bring this multi-dimensional being from the Dark Dimension over to earth in order for it to enslave us and, in theory, give us eternal life. The film, to be perfectly honest, doesn't do a great job exactly at explaining what it is that Dormammu exactly does. He is called the destroyer of worlds, of course, and that gives you pretty much everything you need to know about him, but if it wasn't for that, then you wouldn't really know much about him. And, another thing, I know Dormammu is an evil fucker from another dimension, but why is he collecting worlds? What is his reasoning? There really is nothing there, as everything you know about Dormammu is told to you by other people and not the actual being itself. So there's certainly some weaknesses with the scripting. It's your basic good vs evil story with a few twists. Those few twists relate to how the visuals in the film play out and the fact that we also deal with some very intriguing issues relating to time loops and how certain actions Strange takes weren't manipulating space-time continuum, they were breaking it. But let's move on to the visual style of the film. Let's just say that this is, certainly, the trippiest film in Marvel's Cinematic Universe. That's really just the best way to describe it. Kaecilius, and other sorcerers in the mirror world, can distort the world around them. For example, they may stretch out hallways, or bend and twist buildings. One of the coolest scenes in the entire film sees Strange and Mordo escaping from Kaecilius and his zealots while they distort the world around them, removing streets entirely or completely changing the direction of their path. I don't really know how to describe it in great detail, but it's really freaking cool. There's no way my words would be able do it justice, even if I could find a way to accurately describe the insanity. But I think that is what, to me, pushed the film to getting 3.5 stars. Well that and the fact that Benedict Cumberbatch is pretty fucking great in the film. The action is good, though it's not great. I will say, though, that the climactic battle sequence that plays out in reverse, as Strange has manipulated time to ensure that an attack by the zealots doesn't happen, is pretty fucking great. Perhaps it might not be as great as something you would see on, say, The Raid or Mad Max, but it gets extra points for creativity. The casting is strong all around, no complaints on that front. Personally speaking, while I understand that this is an origin film, I just wish that the narrative would have been a little more interesting than it was. I think the fact of the matter is that they were able to get away with maybe not having the most compelling of narratives because of the fact that the film is so trippy and surreal with its visuals. And there's something to be said about that, but I think that's a major part of the reason why I don't feel comfortable giving this 4 stars. The narrative just falls behind everything else. I'm not saying that it's bad, it's not, but it could have been so much better. I will say, however, that they do set up potential sequels fairly well and, it seems obvious to me, that Doctor Strange will play a big part of Thor: Ragnarok, so they're clearly already gearing up Doctor Strange for his inclusion in the next Avengers movie, Infinity War. I don't know what else to say, really. This review, at least from when I started writing it, went by quicker than I would have imagined. I'd say this was a very good movie, but I'd put it in the second tier (out of five) of Marvel movies. It's a very fun popcorn movie, but I don't think it strives to be anything more than that. This is a positive because it allows the uninitiated to join in without having to have followed the MCU from the start. It's a negative in that, after Civil War, this movie just doesn't explore as many interesting concepts as the former. I'm sure the sequels will make up for that. But, I digress, I would recommend this movie for the visuals and for Benedict's performance. I had a lot of fun watching this, in spite of its flaws.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer
  • Apr 16, 2017
    [i]'he folds matter outside the mirror dimension, in the real world'[/i] I'm sorry what? Welcome to the cinematic kaleidoscope that is the world of Marvels Doctor Strange. A world of sanctums and sorcerers that protect the Earth from other dimensional beings and powers, or something like that. Doctor Stephen Strange is world-renowned neurosurgeon who, in a rather contrived manner, loses the use of his skilled hands in a car accident (how did he survive that crash??!!). He doesn't lose a leg or suffer brain damage or whatever, oh no, he just fucks up his hands. Anyway Strange is unable to fix his hands through traditional methods, so eventually he goes off to Nepal in search of a mysterious place called Kamar-Taj. There he discovers the Ancient One who starts Strange off on his quest to learn the secret powers of sorcery. The challenge? Strange, the Ancient One and fellow sorcerer Mordo must stop another rogue sorcerer called Kaecilius. What is Kaecilius's goal? he wants to summon Dormammu from the dark dimension in order to gain eternal life. At the same time Dormammu wants the Earth dimension for himself. Much like his comicbook counterpart, Strange is an arrogant asshole in this movie. The man clearly has skills but he thinks he's God-like, he treats people like garbage, he ignores advice, he's reckless and lacks tact. So it is in fact very hard to like our main protagonist because he's such a blowhard. Strange is also very very rich due to his profession which makes it hard to relate to Strange (much like Stark), his arrogance only makes matters worse. The sequence where he chooses a watch from a draw of rotating highly expensive looking timepieces, then leaves his highly expensive city pad in his highly expensive Lamborghini, is this really any different from reality for Cumberbatch? Just another day for a Hollywood movie star. The fact that Strange is an asshole doesn't really go away either. He continues his snarky comments (along with lame pop culture gags) for much of the run time which only left a bad taste in my mouth truth be told. Yes I know this is the character and it would be wrong to change it, but it just felt shitty to me, I just didn't like the guy. The other fact that Cumberbatch was cast made it worse for me, did he do a good job in the role? I guess, nothing special, I wasn't blown away lets just say that. I had reservations when he was cast and I still don't really agree with it, personally I would have gone with Ewan McGregor after Joaquin Phoenix turned it down. I don't think Cumberbatch looks the part, he's too skinny, his hair is wrong and his face has the wrong structure, he isn't good or suave looking enough. Was it too hard to get his famous white hair streaks right? So lets look at the Ancient One played by Tilda Swinton, was this good casting? Again I'm somewhat split on this, should they have race swapped the character? No I think they should have gone by the source material, so no gender swap either. It would have upset China you say, tough! Stand by your work, show a little backbone. As for Swinton I really didn't see anything uniquely special in her performance, in fact I think it was weak, anyone could have taken the role and done a better job. Mordo, again, why the race swap? People complained about the Ancient One yet didn't mention this? Equality? hypocrisy? political agendas? You moan about one, you moan about the other, or don't moan. Anyway both looked completely out of place in this movie, especially in the Nepal locations. The white bald Ancient One looked like an extra from 'The Matrix'. Mads Mikkelsen as Kaecilius? totally forgettable much like his faceless henchmen. So yeah overall I wasn't wowed by any casting in this movie, very bland, usual box ticked diversity, generally all very safe and boring. So did the movie offer anything that differs from what we have seen before in the Marvel cinematic universe? Well yes, of course it did, this movie is based on the magical side of the Marvel comicbook universe. You want lots of mind-bending visuals that cast doubt on what your actually looking at? Say no more, its all here. I mentioned at the start the word kaleidoscope, well that's pretty much the key word here, its literally the word of the day, the word of the movie because there is no other way in describing what you see. There are numerous sequences of astral planes, other dimensions, mirror dimensions and reality being twisted and contorted. Of course its all CGI but its bursting with colour, shapes and dream-like imagery that certainly keeps you engaged...if your eyes can stand it. The broken/shattered/cracked-esque glass visual effect for the mirror dimension was particularly impressive, very striking, very imaginative. On the other hand we of course have lots of kung fu and hocus pocus nonsense. The hocus pocus nonsense is obviously to be expected and it generally looks pretty good. I did like all the colourful magical shields. weapons and visual spells that the protagonists use. They all look like colour coded HUD's from a jet fighter (or inside Tony Stark's Iron Man helmet) that are projected around a persons limbs. The obligatory martial arts jiggery-pokery I felt was..um...obligatory. Its like you can't have a comicbook flick (or any flick) without needless martial arts. When Strange takes on his astral form in the astral plane, yep you guessed it, he ends up getting involved in an astral plane martial arts fight (with Scott Adkins). In general I liked the fighting because it involved lots of magical trickery but they still can't get away from martial bloody arts, so tiresome. I find myself in the middle ground with this Marvel entry, in limbo if you will. Whilst I did enjoy the effects to a degree, I found myself straining to look at some of it, or it just seemed to go a bit too far with the bizarre, although the colour palette was nice. What we see of the dark dimension was nicely done, it kinda looked like what you might see under a microscope, but in vivid colours. The magic and sorcery was definitely intriguing and I found myself wanting to see more ancient mystical things instead of the more present day set events. A period set Doctor Strange flick could be pretty sweet methinks. Period though, not alien fantasy because period would offer some grounded limitations. But it says a lot when one of the best parts of the movie involved a simple cloak, the cloak of levitation. I really wanted to see more of that and its backstory. On the flip side I found the characters weak and casting all wrong, not even Strange himself was overly engaging (Tony Stark with magic). The appearance of Dormammu in the finale was also a big let down as yet again we get a big purple-ish looking face...and that's it, CGI wasn't much either. The main issue I have with all these movies now is they don't really feel like stand alone movies. They merely feel like filler movies, padding, basically set-ups for another even bigger movie that usually involves a team up or an entire cinematic universe. The stories don't really have any meaning or risk involved, they feel minor and throwaway because at the end of the day all they're doing is setting up something else. The real killer is then when you get the next bigger movie, that too is just another set-up for something else, and on we go. The plot for 'Doctor Strange' was mediocre, it barely did the job. I was relatively engaged merely down to the fact that we were seeing something a bit new in sorcery, but beyond that it was bland business as usual. So overall I would give this a pass in the same vein as 'Ant-Man', but the initial intrigue is now gone, any sequels (for me) will just feel meh (although a period setting could be cool).
    Phil H Super Reviewer

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