Dr Strange is Marvels latest block Buster, now; I freely admit that there is a gap in my Nerd Knowledge when it comes to the “Sorcerer Supreme”. I’m not completely unfamiliar with him, while I haven’t read any of the comics he stars in, I did see the 2007 animated movie, which I really enjoyed. On the bright side, this does allow me to review the movie as John Everyman. Without the bias that being a hardcore fan can often straddle a viewer with.
The story is about Dr Stephen Strange, a respected and celebrated neurosurgeon, played by Benedict Cumberbatch. After a car crash, he ends up with nerve damage in both his hands, crippling not only his hands but his career and his future. He spends all his time and money trying to regain full function in his fingers, to no avail. Then, after multiple failed surgeries, he hears about a man who was completely paralysed from a spinal injury and somehow learned to walk again. With a final ember of hope he travels to Kamar-Taj seeking a cure, but instead finds a whole new world of mysticism and magic led by the Ancient One. I could talk about this all day so, I’ll cut it here and won’t go into much more of the plot, as I don’t want to spoil anything.
The characters were interesting, and the casting overall was perfect. Firstly, we have Dr Stephen Strange, played by Benedict Cumberbatch. We already know that Benedict plays the role of an arrogant, selfish, narcissist quite well from his time as Sherlock, so this role fit him perfectly. While the character is meant to be arrogant and egotistical, he is also a damaged and broken person. The scene where he has lost all his money, and pushes away the only person who truly cares about him was particularly brilliant at showing the depth and complexity of the character. Strange honestly believes that without his hands he is worthless and in this scene, believing his last hope gone, you can truly feel the anger and fear of Strange through Cumberbatch’s performance.
Then we have Mads Mikkelsen as the villain “Kaecilius”, and he was a joy to watch, while Kaecilius was obviously the “bad guy”, Mikkelsen’s performance and the writing for the character managed to create a sympathetic villain that you can’t help but feel for. Like Dr Strange, Kaecilius comes across as just another broken soul trying to be healed. In his mind, he is trying to save the world… albeit with lovecraftian style monster murder, but I suppose we all have flaws.
Finally, Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One gives yet another great performance, she takes on the role of Strange’s mentor and helps guide him into this new world. Swinton has a wonderful and peaceful presence about her in this film, she is simultaneously this wise, aloof teacher and an ass kicking badass.
How it looks
The film looked amazing; the visuals in this film are nothing short of astounding. From the well-choreographed fight scenes to the world altering magic scenes, it really was beautiful to watch. There are scenes when reality itself is being altered and the buildings and landscape are manipulated to suit the sorcerer’s will, and they are truly outstanding. It was like Inception meets Avengers and trust me, it is every bit as cool as it sounds. Now, I happened to see this movie in 3D, because like the idiot I am, I got the times mixed up, and as I have previously mentioned I don’t like 3D, as I feel it doesn’t add anything to the experience. However, I really enjoyed the 3D effects in Dr Strange, the shots where subtle and actually added a sense of immersion, particularly in the scenes with magic. So even I’d recommend Dr Strange in 3D.
Generally, there weren’t really that many issues with the movie, if I had to make one complaint it would be, what I felt was a tacked on romantic sub-plot. I understand that showing the characters as vulnerable and caring towards another human being “rounds out” a character by giving them depth and scope, but I felt that this was more than accomplished by the car accident, and throughout his recovery period.
All in all, it was a great movie, the story was entertaining, serious but with moments of humour sprinkled throughout. In the grand scheme of Marvel it feels like the universe has opened up a lot, since magic and other dimensions are completely in the mix now. The acting was great and the special effects were amazing. Dr Strange is another great addition to the Marvel cinematic universe.