A former neurosurgeon embarks on a journey of healing only to be drawn into the world of the mystic arts.
If you read the synopsis for DOCTOR STRANGE with no history of the character or origin it sounds like a serious drama. Another Seven Years in Tibet if you will. Adding the fact that it stars one of the best dramatic actors of our day, Benedict Cumberbatch, only strengthens this assumption. But this is actually a new addition to the Marvel Universe family of super hero films. Though not as prominent a name around households as Iron Man or Captain America, Strange is solid character and his movies effects totally kick The Avenger’s butts.
The only thing Dr. Stephen Strange (Cumberbatch) excels in more than neurosurgery is egotism. He is the best at what he does and will be the first to tell you. When a horrific accident robs him of his surgical ability he turns to a mysterious, Eastern sect for help. The group is led by The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) and they are in a current battle with a subordinate named Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) for Earth’s protection .Strange will have to decide if he wants to take the selfish approach or stay and help the cause.
This film does not stray far from the Marvel backyard. The humor, character interaction, and story line is pretty familiar. Even if you have no idea who Strange is you will immediately catch the rhythms of the plot and begin to second guess its trajectory. There are few “I didn’t see that coming” moments but that does not mean that what you do get is boring or stale. Strange is an intriguing guy which is amplified greatly by Benedict. Having someone with his acting abilities can elevate your familiar story to new heights.
Swinton too is exceptional in the role of the mystic arts master. Her androgynous look and calm demeanor solidify the character and aid in the selling of the story. It also stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, and Benedict Wong; so you know you are getting a stellar supporting cast. The weakest role sadly is given to McAdams. Every super hero needs a pining damsel I guess. Rachel is far better than the cliché drivel they give her to spew but again this is based on a comic book and not a NY Times best seller.
What sets this film apart from the rest of the universe is the special effects and imagery. The seamless mastery of the created worlds is second to none. Fans of movies like Inception will stare in awe at the movement and fluid transformation taking place on the screen. If ever a film begged to be seen on the biggest screen you can find it is this one. It is impossible to fully describe the backdrop these characters get to move around in. IMAX was invented for this moment in time.
Like other hero movies Strange goes through a transformation of mind and body and comes around to a different way of thinking. It is an origin story and there is not a lot of meat on the bone when it comes to depth and dialogue. The overall feel is nothing more than an introduction to a new character. But they fool you by how amazing it looks. You forget all the repetition and short leash the film was given. You are too transfixed to what is happening before your eyes to hand out fault.
DOCTOR STRANGE is rated PG-13 for sci-fi violence and action throughout, and an intense crash sequence. Again it plays well in its own yard and the content is nothing above and beyond any of the other myriad of super hero action films. It gets 3.5 out of 5 MRI’s. 3 of which is for Swinton, Cumberbatch, and the amazing effects team. The point 5 is for originality and use of the other characters. if you are going to see it do it now. Don’t wait for the small screen or you will forfeit all the tasty goodness.