2:45 pm EDT, November 4, 2016

‘Doctor Strange’ movie review: Magic and Marvel work together seamlessly

There’s been a lot of controversy in the build-up to Doctor Strange, but now that it’s hit theaters, we have to ask the question on all our minds: Is it any good?

Thankfully, that’s an easy question to answer. Yes. Doctor Strange is funny, engaging, and downright entertaining. If you are looking for an action-adventure type story, this offering from Marvel has quite a bit of that spirit. If you’re looking for something mystical and other-worldly, Doctor Strange has more than a little of that to offer as well.

There are a lot of things that all had to come together for Doctor Strange to succeed as a concept, and thankfully, they have been brought together in a pleasant, captivating way.

‘Doctor Strange’ review: Strengths

Comedy

The last thing I expected from Doctor Strange was a couple of full on, gut-busting, belly laughs. Sure, there were bound to be a few chuckle-worthy moments, but Doctor Strange more than delivers on the laughs, and in the most unexpected of ways.

Even the villain gets in on the gags, letting moments of lightness into the heavy battle sequences as Kaecilius, played by Mads Mikkelson, tries to bring the Earth into the realm of darkness. The balance of heavy and light is one of this movie’s greatest strengths.

Benedict Cumberbatch

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Much of the credit for Doctor Strange‘s success belongs to Benedict Cumberbatch. Despite the white-washing controversies, which are completely justified, Cumberbatch breathes a special kind of life into the character. He allows Strange’s arrogance and superiority to come across as approachable and even charming, which is quite the feat.

Marvel Studios truly lucked out in finding such a quality leading man for this character. Stephen Strange easily could have slipped into unlikable territory, but the skill Cumberbatch has for bringing complicated characters to the screen definitely helps the Doctor Strange film as a whole.

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Brilliant Visual Effects

If you take nothing else away from Doctor Strange, the absolutely stunning visual effects are well worth the price of admission. They go farther down the road of world-bending than Inception ever dreamed they could go, turning building facades into kaleidoscopes of brickwork and architecture.

Besides the world-bending, Strange takes more than a few trips into other realms throughout the film, and that is brought to the screen with remarkable skill and artistry. Colors, shapes, textures, and patterns zoom by faster than you can imagine, but the details stick out. In one scene in particular, Stephen Strange finds himself in a world where hands sprout from appendages with unending complexity and it definitely was enough to creep this viewer out. Bravo to the creative and artistic forces behind those stunning digital effects.

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Weaknesses

Overly complex processes and worlds

The complexity of this story is definitely not a weakness, but the difficulty of bringing that large of a concept to the screen wasn’t a strength, either. Doctor Strange hinges on the ability to step into other realms and universes with the flick of the wrist, which presents challenges when it comes to keeping your audience informed.

The intense wormhole that Stephen Strange travels down when the Ancient One is giving him a crash-course in their power is overwhelming and inexplicable, which definitely caused me to scratch my head a time or two.

Ultimately

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While Doctor Strange isn’t without its problems, especially regarding controversies before the film ever hit theaters, it’s also a fun way to spend a couple hours with friends. The movie offers a lot, is thoroughly entertaining, and won’t make you wish you had chosen a different film to go see.

The cast really delivers, especially the leading man, and thanks to those after-credits scenes, we know that the adventure hasn’t ended yet for many of them. From Rachel McAdams to Chiwetel Ejiofor, every member of this cast delivers a great performance and helps tell a great new story.

If you’ve found previous Marvel movies a little too grounded in reality, or if you just like a little more mysticism in your comic book movies, then this is definitely the one you’ve been waiting for. Check into the world of Doctor Strange and exchange our world’s craziness for a much more entertaining kind.

Related: Hypable speaks to the cast of Doctor Strange about pushing MCU boundaries

Grade: A-

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