Marvel presents their latest installment into their cinematic universe: Doctor Strange. Doctor Strange is directed by Scott Derrickson (Sinister and 2008’s The Day the Earth Stood Still) who co-wrote the screenplay with Jon Spaihts (Prometheus) and C. Robert Cargill (Sinister). Stephen Strange is a neurosurgeon whose arrogance is rivaled only by his talent. Think of him as the Tony Stark of medicine. Then one night, Strange is driving irresponsibly and gets into an accident that horribly disfigures his hands (his number one tool as a neurosurgeon). After spending all of his fortune trying numerous medical procedures, Strange hears of a place capable of miracles. Strange makes the trek and instead of finding a cure, he finds a new way of life through the study of magic from a mysterious and powerful being called The Ancient One. At the same time Strange becomes a student of The Ancient One, a former student named Kaecilius is practicing dangerous magic and leads a group of radicals against The Ancient One. Strange gets caught in the middle with fellow students Mordo and Wong. Together they must use all of their skills and enchanted objects to stop Kaecilius from bringing the dark dimension to our world and destroying mankind.
\Marvel’s Doctor Strange, being the first appearance of the character in this current Cinematic Universe (there was an earlier Dr. Strange film from 1978), is an origin story. As such, much of the film is about the transition of Stephen Strange from arrogant neurosurgeon to a sorcerer that will sacrifice himself for mankind. While I am familiar with the origin of Doctor Strange, this film is for those audience members who have no idea who the character is and what he is about. As a fan of the character, I enjoyed seeing things how the characters cast spells with their gestures (which were actually based on real eastern spiritual practices that use hand gestures).
I also enjoyed seeing tropes from the comics brought to life in the Sanctum Sanctorum, the Eye of Agamotto (which will play a role in the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe), and the Cape of Levitation (my favorite part of the film).
The talented cast includes Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game, BBC’s Sherlock) as Stephen Strange, Tilda Swinton (The Chronicles of Narnia, We Need to Talk About Kevin) as The Ancient One, Chiwetal Ejiofor (Kinky Boots, Serenity) as Mordo, Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale, Hannibal) as Kaecilius, Benedict Wong (The Martian, Black Mirror) as Wong, and Rachel McAdams (The Notebook) as Christine Palmer. With all of these characters being introduced, as well the world of sorcery, we only get to see teases of the supporting cast’s character arcs, hopefully to be fleshed out in later films. This is likely why such a talented cast needed to be assembled, a lesser cast might not be able to make their character shine. Even the smaller roles have accomplished actors cast; Michael Stuhlberg (Boardwalk Empire) is a rival surgeon to Strange and Benjamin Bratt (Law & Order, Modern Family) is only in two scenes as a vehicle accident survivor.
Though the cast is talented and everyone turns in great performances, what stole the film for me was the score from Michael Giacchino and the visual effects. Michael Giacchino’s score ranges from the horn heavy hero theme to the closing credits which has a rock opera vibe from the 70’s; definitely the most unique score from any Marvel film. The special effects match the score. While most of what has been advertised is the mirror world bending effect (“inception-esque”), the real fun comes when Strange enters other dimensions. The otherworldly dimensions are bright and lively bringing a brand new look to the Marvel films. I can’t wait to see it again!
DOCTOR STRANGE is now playing in theatres everywhere!
For more info visit the official DOCTOR STRANGE website here: https://marvel.com/doctorstrange