Doctor Strange (2016)
PG-13 / 115 mins
Action / Adventure / Fantasy
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams
Director: Scott Derrickson
I am pretty much at the point where I will go to see any Marvel movie when it comes to theaters. I have reached a level of confidence with these movies, knowing full well that I am going to enjoy the product that is presented to me on screen. Maybe I am going to get burned one of these days, but that has not stopped me yet. Doctor Strange was one of the few Marvel movies that I was not totally hyped for. I have no affinity or familiarity with the character, so I had absolutely no clue what I was getting myself into in terms of the story it was going to tell and the characters it was going to present. These preconceptions quickly fell to the wayside as Doctor Strange turned out to be one of my favorite movies of the year.
There was a brand of complexity to this movie that made it enticing and engaging from the start. We are quickly thrown into a world were reality is promptly turned on its head as sorcerers manipulate the world around them in alternate dimensions. Based on the trailers that I saw before going into the movie, I knew that this movie was going to be complex and abnormal. It only took a couple of minutes before what looked like London was being manipulated as if it were a kaleidoscope.
But let us get this out of the way right off the bat: Benedict Cumberbatch makes a great Doctor Strange. Going into the movie I was unfamiliar with the superhero, his origins, and his personality. After some conversations with some people, I was told that he is intelligent, egotistical, and kind of a wise-ass. I quickly made connections, relating him to Tony Stark, who happens to be one of my favorite characters in the Marvel universe. After seeing Cumberbatch deliver a role that matched these traits down to a T, I quickly realized that I was going to enjoy this character. He sells the role perfectly which makes him instantly likable, or not likable if you are not a fan of wise-cracking know-it-alls.
Although the movie is structured around him, his supporting cast is great as well, especially when you look at the names that adorn the cast list. Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Mordo, a master sorcerer who finds Doctor Strange, a broken (both physically and emotionally) neurosurgeon on a quest for healing, and takes him to a secret place where he learns about things like mysticism and alternate dimensions. There’s also his love interest Christine, a fellow surgeon who’s played by Rachel McAdams. Although her role in the movie is semi-small, she still does a great job with it. Tilda Swinton plays the role of the Ancient One, a mysterious sorcerer who’s essentially the teacher, bringing Strange under her wing. Finally, Mads Mikkelsen (of Hannibal fame) plays Kaecilius, the movie’s primary villain. He has the looks of a fallen sorcerer turned evil, but he was the one character that had me wanting more. There’s not much to his character, which was unfortunate.
The story involves Doctor Strange looking for healing after suffering from a bad motor accident that heavily damaged his nerves in his hands…his tools on the surgeon’s table…his claim to fame. His ego drives him to find curing, but he is essentially put in his place by the Ancient One who opens his mind to the world of mysticism and sorcery…a world Strange never knew existed. He then takes on the path of knowledge as he quickly learns about the world of sorcery. In his studies, he starts to learn about darker magic and begins to uncover some darker secrets that spell trouble for the Marvel cinematic universe.
In my opinion, it is the movie’s visuals and cinematography that really make Doctor Strange shine. Like I mentioned before, the world is constantly being manipulated by the sorcerers in the mirror dimension (a dimension that “mirrors” the real world but the actions that take place in it have no effect on the actual real world), giving the movie an Inception-esque appearance. There were multiple times throughout the movie where I was like, “huh, this would make for a really bomb-ass wallpaper!” There are some other scenes, like the surgery scene in which Strange’s astral body (I’m not going to explain that) is directing Christine who’s operating on Strange’s physical body. There’s some cool cinematography going on in some of these scenes that really make this movie a visual delight.
After going into Doctor Strange with absolutely zero expectations, I can officially say that I am sold on Doctor Strange as a character and I am excited to see his role in the larger Marvel cinematic universe. The movie’s cast is nothing to scoff at and the movie delivers some of the best visual effects that I have seen in a long time. Even if you have no familiarity with the characters, like I did, Doctor Strange is still worth checking out.