Kyle J. Steenblik

Doctor Strange is Mind-Bending and Spectacular [Review]

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Doctor StrangeDoctor Strange
Directed by: Scott Derrickson
Screenplay by: Scott Derrickson, C. Robert Cargill
Story by: Jon Spaihts, Scott Derrickson, C. Robert Cargill
Based on Doctor Strange by Steve Ditko
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Michael Stuhlbarg, Benjamin Bratt, Scott Adkins, Mads Mikkelsen, Tilda Swinton
Running time 115 minutes
5 stars out of 5

In Kathmandu, the sorcerer Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) and his zealots have entered Kamar-Taj and stolen an ancient ritual from Ancient One (Tilda Swinton). The Ancient One pursues the traitors, but Kaecilius narrowly escapes.

In New York Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), a renowned and arrogantly talented neurosurgeon, suffers irreparable nerve damage in both hands after a devastating car accident. After exhausting every experimental medical treatment, and his accumulated wealth, Strange tracks down a Jonathan Pangborn (Benjamin Bratt), a paraplegic patient that he once refused to help, has been miraculously healed, to discover his secret. Pangborn tells Strange about Kamar-Taj, where he found the power to restore his body.

Strange travels to Katmandu, desperately searching for Kamar-Taj, until he attracts the attention of Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who shows him the door to his salvation. Inside the sanctum of Kamar-Taj, the Ancient One shows Doctor Stephen Strange unbelievable power and dimensions leading Strange to beg to be taught. After much relenting The Ancient One agrees to take Strange on as a student. As a student Strange relentlessly pursues study, determined to master the power to heal himself. Soon Strange learns that the world is being threatened by Kaecilius who is determined to summon Dormammu from the Dark Dimension. It soon falls to Doctor Strange to choose between using his newfound power to restore his hands and return to his former life, or to defend the world from almost certain destruction.

Doctor Strange may be one of the more pleasing cinematic experiences I have had this year, and is most definitely the most interesting Marvel film to date. It is a film that has been on my mind quite a bit, and I definitely believe it requires more than one viewing to fully digest. It is densely packed with information, complex characters, and the introduction to an entirely new component to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Based on what Marvel presented here I am ready to fully embrace this new element, I have even become a fan of the Doctor Strange character. That may be the best measurement for Doctor Strange, how much sales of the Doctor Strange comic books rise.

Aside from the stunning visuals, which really should be seen in IMAX 3D at least once, there is one hell of a story being told by actors portraying what might be some of the most interesting gathering of characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If not the most interesting, than they are only rivaled by the complexity of the characters seen in Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage. A big portion of credit for those charters goes to the actors who brought them to life, and made them convincing and compelling. The rest of that credit can be doled out to the screenwriters and director who kept the film from becoming too top-heavy, and kept the weight of the narrative distributed between the main characters.

It was not very long ago that I said Marvel’s track record was unsustainable. With this being the 14th film, 17 if we count the four Netflix seasons (as very long individual films), and the worst Marvel films are near the very beginning of the MCU, and they are still what I would qualify as good movies. At this time it looks, as if Marvel has a definite upward trajectory and the winning streak is showing no signs of cracking.

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