Introducing an entirely new aspect of the Marvel Universe, Doctor Strange is a fast-paced, intelligent film with plenty of tongue-in-cheek moments to balance out the suspenseful drama and thrilling, non-stop action sequences.
Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a celebrated but self-centered neurosurgeon. After a horrific car accident that leaves his hands severely damaged, Strange desperately seeks out every available medical option to restore the use of his nerves so he can resume his work. Turning away the support of ex-girlfriend and coworker Dr. Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams), Strange has no choice but to turn to the mystical Kamar-Taj with the hopes they can restore his hands to their full potential.
After meeting the elusive and unemotional teacher, only addressed as The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), Strange scoffs at their antiquated practices until an out-of-body experience opens his eyes to the full, healing and awesome potential of the mystic arts.
Eager for knowledge and to master this newfound power, Dr. Strange’s curiosity and tenacity is insatiable, driving him to multiple training sessions with fellow apprentice Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor).
The humorless keeper of the documents and mystical tomes, Wong (Benedict Wong) warns Strange about studying sacred incantations before he is ready. A former apprentice of the Ancient One named Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelson) had abandoned the ways of the Ancient One and pursued forbidden powers. The zealot and his followers wage war against and Dr. Stephen Strange finds himself caught up in a world beyond his wildest imagining.
The most surprising thing about this film was the constant string of comedy and lightheartedness, adding a surprising and welcome shift to even the most difficult relationships. Benedict Cumberbatch’s flawless American accent easily passes for the arrogant New Yorker he plays at the start of the film.
The trickiest thing about introducing such intellectual concepts in a film is making sure the audience doesn’t get lost along the way. Hats off to Director Scott Derrickson and Producer Kevin Feige for visually explaining these bizarre concepts with an artistic simplicity that was easy to follow. Each character took their turn in teaching Doctor Strange about the intricacies of alternate realities and the multiverse theory while also educating the audience. I was able to enjoy the story and the action and without being distracted or caught up with the dizzying details of the effects of a time loop.
Sometimes when a film relies so heavily on special effects the story becomes in danger of falling to the wayside. Doctor Strange completely honored the comic book hero, while using the gorgeous cinematography and special effects to heighten the action and move the characters from one situation to the next.
The sheer character growth of Dr. Stephen Strange is a sub-plot all on its own. From the beginning of the film we meet a self-centered. Halfway through the film, we witness a touching moment of growth between him and the Sorcerer Supreme when she delivered a single, tender line of dialogue:
“It’s not about you.”
This realization and acceptance of responsibility pivots the film into an entirely new direction and the audience is eager to join the ride. All in all, Marvel should be celebrating the success of yet another fantastic installment in our favorite fantasy world.
Doctor Strange stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams, Tilda Swinton, Mads Mikkelson, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Benedict Wong.
Rated PG-13 and opens Friday, November 4th.
Lucy Darby is a graphic designer, freelance marketing assistant and content creator. She is the social media marketing manager for My Big Fat Cuban Family, a Cuban-American lifestyle and cooking blog.