The movie starts off well enough in establishing Doctor Stephen Strange’s (Benedict Cumberbatch) dominance in his field of neurosurgery. He possesses a remarkable skill set and like most in his position, he has the confidence and the ego to match until a particularly brutal accident destroys his most important tools: his hands.
Desperate to find a way back to his former glory, he has colleague after colleague perform a gauntlet of experimental operations until it seems as though they have all given up on him. All but one. Close friend, colleague, and (at one time) lover, Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams). Christine believes in Stephen Strange when he needs to believe in himself the most and therein I feel lies the connecting thread of the film.
The entire movie is about belief. Belief in one’s self, belief in others, and belief that all things have a purpose within the grand scheme of things. It is this faith in the unknown that will give Strange the ability to overcome his handicap and become so much more. He befriends those who will become his new colleagues as he seeks to understand the new skill set that is presented to him. In doing so, Strange gets pulled into a world different from what his brilliant mind can accept.
If you were expecting a new tale, you won’t be getting one here. As Marvel movies go, the plot is a tried and true one. I didn’t feel disappointed here though because we haven’t seen anything like Doctor Strange as of yet. In a cinematic universe where we have super soldiers, tech geniuses, and demigods, this is actually our first foray into Marvel’s version of magic. Everything “mystical” up to this point has been explained away with Marvel’s version of science.
To help guide him on his journey of healing is a collection of characters who each impart a different outlook on the world. Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is a person of devout faith in The Ancient One’s teachings and becomes Doctor Strange’s teacher as well as friendly rival. The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) is the sworn mystic protector of the realm. She is essentially the Head Mistress here in Marvel’s Hogwarts. Wong (Benedict Wong) is The Ancient One’s librarian and a great chunk of the film’s comic relief.
There is a lot to cover, but the pacing is well done. At a runtime just short of two hours, it actually feels as though it ends too quickly. For those that are wondering, there are two after movie scenes (or as it is referred to in the business: stingers). One is after the fancy graphical credits and the other is after the standard ones. I had made an earlier remark in reference to JK Rowling’s famed series and oddly enough the similarities carry into the music as well. The main theme sounds like a cross between the Harry potter theme and the theme to the latest of the Star Trek films.
I had a feeling that Cumberbatch would probably do a great job. I’m a big fan of his work, but after finally seeing this movie on the big screen, I honestly don’t know who else could have fit the role any better. In my eyes, Benedict Cumberbatch IS Doctor Strange in the same way that Ryan Reynolds IS Deadpool and Robert Downey Jr IS Tony Stark.
The ever present Marvel humor is there throughout the film although the movie does take some dark turns on occasion to the point where even the light hearted moments involving the mysticism becomes serious business. The imagery is stunning and I loved the way that they treated Strange’s cloak with respect and attention to detail. They even take a quick moment to explain how relics work which was something I was wondering if they would do.
All in all, I found “Doctor Strange” to be a great movie. I enjoyed it a lot. I viewed it in 2D, but even in two dimensions I could tell that the movie in 3D must be absolutely stellar.