Another lesser-known hero is being introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe this weekend in Doctor Strange. As we near a decade of the super hero powerhouse charting unchartered territory, we can expect to see more heroes and teams of the sort. Doctor Strange is a visually captivating and entertaining installment that I’d place ahead of its similarly lesser-known Ant-Man predecessor.
Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a brilliant neurosurgeon with an ego to match his brains. When a car accident gives him nerve damage in his hands, he sets off to the Far East to find a solution after western medicine fails him. While in Nepal, he meets a group involved in mystic arts at a place called Kathmandu. This allows him to shift his focus and brilliance into studying under The Ancient One (a bald Tilda Swinton), the leader of the group. Strange learns quickly and is able to apply his photographic memory that once helped him retain information on the body, to retain information of various spells.
While there, Strange meets Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) a master amongst the group, Wong (Benedict Wong) guardian of the library of spells, and eventually Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) a disciple gone rogue to learn the darker arts. There is nothing too new here in terms of basic story and plot folks. Yet what is refreshing is the way in which we’re brought into this new side of the Marvel world. As Wong says “the Avengers save the world from physical dangers. We safeguard it against more mystical threats.” While this film does have a certain feel of Inception meets The Matrix, there is no set up as to how things work. We’re just thrown into it from the opening scene. And it’s awesome!
We go on the same trippy ride that Strange goes on as he learns about the mystical realms and multi-verse. The visual effects are stunning and director Scott Derrickson does a great job of keeping us aware of where things are happening in the frame without losing us due to them. Benedict Cumberbatch brings a swagger and arrogance to the role that rivals Tony Stark's, so I can’t wait to see the two of them (Robert Downey Jr.) in a scene together. This is a movie with tons of A-listers though, so the performances of Swinton, Ejiofor, Mikkelsen and Rachel McAdams as Christine Palmer (Strange’s work colleague and pseudo love interest) are all top notch.
This is a smooth installment in bringing in another Marvel character and revealing another side of the universe that is mind-bending. It keeps its light-hearted dialogue but well-rounded storytelling that we’ve come to expect. I’m looking forward to seeing Dr. Strange using his powers in a team up film. There’s no question that we’ll see that soon enough as you’ll find out in the film. Be sure to stick around to the end for 2 post-credit roll sequences. Due to the visuals, IMAX 3-D may be worth the upcharge if you’ve got a little extra in your pocket this weekend!