Written by: John Spaihts, Scott Derrickson, C. Robert Cargill, Steve Ditko (Comic)
Directed by: Scott Derrickson
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton
Running Time: 115 minutes
An arrogant neurosurgeon loses his hands after a near fatal accident and turns to the mystic arts for help.
The forever expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe, this time around brings us the origin stories of Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch). He is an arrogant and cocky neurosurgeon, whose talent and charm knows no bounds. Unfortunately, fate had different plans for him as he suffers irreparable nerve damage in both his hands after a car accident.
After exhausting all routes that western medicine had to offer, he is advised by a former patient to travel to a place named Kamar-Taj and seek an alternate path to recovery. Upon his arrival in Kathmandu, he finds the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) – a master of the mystic arts.
Strange soon realizes that there are worlds and dimensions he never imagined in his entire life – things he would have sworn were fairy tales a few months ago. ‘’Forget everything you think you know’’ is what he was told as he embarks on his journey to become the Sorcerer Supreme of our universe.
Beyond the Realm of Time
I must admit, Marvel makes some peculiar choices, but they turn out to be choices that would make even Midas blush. Their choice of director – Scott Derrickson (Sinister, The Exorcism Of Emily Rose) – was a huge gamble. Boy, did it pay off.
The film is formulaic in every aspect – brash protagonist who suffers life-changing physical damage and finds superpowers, love-interest being played by an extremely talented but underused star, underrated villains AND a complex brother-like character. But it is still a feast for the eyes and mind.
The aforementioned formulaic approach in the movie also stands as the only negative marking. It doesn’t offer too much in terms of anything – just the right amount of everything. It easily achieves its two main objectives – an introduction for Stephen Strange into the MCU & a gateway to the next set of Marvel movies.
The true heroes behind the screen are the CGI team. They have put together visuals that would blow your mind away – particularly one in the opening act of the movie. The art team has backed them up excellently. Almost every scene in the movie is packed with energy and vibrancy.
Even though originally thought up by Steve Ditko & Stan Lee almost 5 decades ago, the characterization in this film has been done splendidly. The entire plot has been written with some grace to it with the right infusion of drama and humor.
Michael Giacchino provides the score, which slots in perfectly with the pace of the film but could have been better.
The Mystics Acts
Marvel once again finds an actor who makes it look as if the character was made for him. Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, The Imitation Game), who has been criticized for his accents, manages this gig with ease. Stephen Strange is not a character too far off from his famed Sherlock and his efforts seemed too natural. The prospect of seeing him in future MCU movies is all too electrifying.
Couple of performances stand strong among the rest of the cast – Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave, The Martian) as Mordo and Tilda Swinton (Adaptation, Moonrise Kingdom) as the Ancient One. The former puts in a strong act as a troubled Mordo and it’ll be thrilling to see him in the upcoming films. The latter didn’t look troubled at all and gave a solid performance.
It’s a pity that Rachel McAdams (Midnight In Paris, Sherlock Holmes) had so little to do with her role as the love interest, Christine Palmer. Fans would have loved to see more of her. Another underused actor was Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale, The Hunt) as Kaecilius, who turned out to be nothing more than a pawn.
Benedict Wong (Prometheus, Moon) put in a good shift as well as the librarian & Benjamin Bratt (Modern Family, The Infiltrator) has a welcome cameo.
All in All
Doctor Strange is an enjoyable ride despite having a typical approach in the superhero genre. It serves as an excellent bridge between the films in the MCU and stands out as a visual masterpiece in a year which has seen CGI movie after CGI movie shoved in our faces.
People who aren’t fans of plots involving superheroes and mystic arts should try and avoid this one, but for everyone else the message is clear: the MCU keeps getting bigger and better.
Watch it if you’re: A fan of the superhero genre OR looking for a CGI treat.
Did you enjoy this Doctor Strange review? Do you agree/disagree? Why? Tell us in the comments below.
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