As the Marvel Movie machine chugs ever forward to the Infinity War, we get a small rest stop with Doctor Strange. Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, The Imitation Game) dons the wizard white at his temples and goatee most notable for the spell slinger in this film from director Scott Derrickson.
Don’t go into this film expecting the normal Marvel action and humor, Doctor Strange attempts to reach it’s audience on a higher plane. The majority of jokes are dry, delivered with no real panache, in an attempt to lighten the serious tone of the story.
Doctor Stephen Strange is an arrogant but gifted surgeon who is terribly injured in a car accident (his own fault, top speeds on a winding mountain road at night while checking his cell phone) breaking his hands in several places rendering them useless for continuing his career. Western medicine fails to offer him a cure, and his healing is not going anywhere near as quickly as he’d like. Strange encounters Jonathan Pangborn (Benjamin Bratt), a severe spinal injury patient who he’d turned down for treatment because “nothing could help him”, playing basketball and walking like there had never been an injury. Pangborn tells Strange to go to Kamar-Taj to seek healing.
By this point, Strange has pushed away any/all friends he had, which includes on and off again Doctor Girlfriend (ha) Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams) and surgical college Nicodemus West (Michael Stuhlbarg) with his ‘charming’ bedside manor. He leaves New York for Tibet.
We meet trainer Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Wong the librarian (Benedict Wong), and the head of the Sanctum of Kamar-Taj the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton). After the opening fight sequence featuring Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) and his followers vs The Ancient One, I know I was ready to see more of what she could do. We aren’t disappointed as she physically knocks Strange’s astral self from his body to begin his training.
As the film progresses, we learn that Kaecilius was once a student of the Ancient One, but made a deal with the Dark One (Dormammu) to tear down the boundaries and destroy the Earth realm Sanctums that protect our planet from his hunger.
As Strange becomes his true sorcerer self, he takes the Eye of Agamotto from it’s place of honor inside the Sanctum and begins to learn to harness it’s internal power. (It’s the green time stone that Thanos is looking for, y’all) The Cloak of Levitation choses to rest on Strange’s shoulders during the battle for the New York Sanctum, and never really leaves him. Unless it’s beating up one of Kaecilius’s followers while the good doctor gets patched up.
The cloak is like Carpet from Aladdin, same type of personality for a sentient woven garment, same fighting style really, and it allows it’s master to fly.
The effects are truly astounding, I will admit that I still think it takes too many visual cues from Inception, but it bends and places them completely into a different world. The other realms The Ancient One forces Strange through are trippy enough to trigger some acid flashbacks I bet. The kaleidoscopic dimensional movement during the battles is spectacular, but I caution anyone with mild motion sickness or sensitivity to 3D stuff will have a hard time with this film.
SCORE: 7.5 OUT OF 10, saw in Dolby Atmos, would see again in standard non-3d
The film score from Oscar Winner Michael Giacchino also warrants mention- like some love child between Laurence of Arabia and NBC’s short lived Constantine, blending the sounds of another land and harpsichord during the more magical of battles. Could have used another main theme, though.
Doctor Strange opens worldwide on Friday, November 4th 2016. Oh, and yes there are TWO post credit scenes. It’s a Marvel movie. You should know by now.
Check out what Geekgasm had to say about it: