Strange worlds with Doctor Strange

A modern day man with old fashioned magic powers

7966  40 doctor strange
Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Stephen Strange in Doctor Strange.
Courtesy of Marvel Studios

Directed by: Scott Derrickson
Starring: Tilda Swinton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams
Release Date: November 3, 2016

The Marvel Universe produces yet another Hollywood blockbuster. Unlike past works, this movie features a lesser known superhero; nevertheless, both hardcore Marvel fans and people just now hopping on the superhero bandwagon will be able to enjoy Doctor Strange. Combining the humor that we love in Iron Man, the magic that grasps us in the Thor movies, and the special effects that makes Avengers so memorable, Doctor Strange will surely join the rest of the Avengers as a Marvel classic.

Doctor Strange focuses on the life of a young, cocky neurosurgeon Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch). With a massive intellect only matched by his ego, Strange leads the world in medicine, and makes sure that everyone knows it. However, when an accident takes everything from him, he embarks on a journey to find a way back to his former glory. Strange makes his way to South Asia in a desperate gamble to recover his status, but instead he is thrown into a cosmic fight for the future of humanity. He struggles to overcome his pride and his many regrets as he tries to grasp a world he never imagined could exist.

Since its early days, RealD 3D has progressed by leaps and bounds; Marvel Studios takes full advantage of the experience, with its explorations of alternate realities and mind-twisting visualizations of the cosmos. The fight scenes felt like a mashup of Inception’s dreamscapes and old school martial arts sequences. A caveat to the pure awesomeness of the CG however: in some of the motion heavy scenes, I was hit with mild bouts of car sickness. As my friend who watched this film with me did not experience this, and I am particularly sensitive to motion sickness, this likely won’t be problematic for most of the population. Still, those weak of stomach, beware.

As an actor, Cumberbatch has been rather pigeonholed to unsociable, genius characters since his first breakthrough as the titular character in BBC’s Sherlock. Although on the surface, his role as Dr. Strange seems to fit this mold as well, Cumberbatch’s performance manages to subvert the pattern elegantly. Stephen Strange is presented to us fully formed, with a personality both exasperating and abrasive, magnetic and likeable.

Although Strange’s journey through various nations and dimensions keeps watchers glued to the screen, at points it is slightly unrealistic how easily he surmounts hardship. As Dr. Strange’s introduction, this film does an excellent job of setting him up to join the rest of the Marvel cinematic universe. At two hours, the film gives ample time to character development, while still allowing for an engaging and intricate plot. The side characters fill their roles seamlessly, and I never wondered what a character was doing there. The villain actually made sense, comic relief characters were placed logically and were genuinely hilarious, and the women of the movie were faceted and influential; all in all, the cast was refreshingly human.