Fanboys and Fangirls will certainly make an appointment to see Marvel’s Doctor Strange, and they won’t be disappointed. The superhero movie du jour features a character I was completely unfamiliar with, but it turns out he’s a rather engaging bloke, in an ‘Avengers meets the mystical world’ sort of way. I still love my Avengers more (Iron Man, Captain America, Thor…), but Doctor Strange is a solid, entertaining action-adventure sci-fi fantasy, especially for fans of the Marvel universe, where bad stuff happens and the heroes win out, without all the intense violence, darkness, and brooding that has come to characterize the DC Comics’ caped crusaders (Superman, Batman, etc.).
Benedict Cumberbatch (TV’s Sherlock) plays Dr. Stephen Strange, a brilliant, yet arrogant neurosurgeon whose hands are severely damaged in a horrific car crash. When Western medicine fails him, the doctor looks to the East. He journeys to a special enclave in Nepal called Kamar-Taj. Turns out that Kamar-Taj is more than a center for healing. It’s also a gateway to other dimensions, providing quick and easy access to New York City (Doctor Strange’s hometown), Hong Kong, and London. The queen bee of Kamar-Taj is a bald sorceress known as “The Ancient One” (Tilda Swinton) who trains her protégés to be guardians of the various dimensions and save the world from all sorts of mystical threats. At least, I think that’s what it was about. Mind-bending plot aside, what makes Doctor Strange fun (for me) is the sharp wit and sarcasm that permeates the story as Stephen learns to harness his innate magical powers and morphs from self-centered jerk to reluctant superhero. Rachel McAdams plays Stephen’s former love interest, a skillful doctor in her own right. She acts as the straight (wo)man in this flick, reacting as we all would to Strange’s bizarre character transformation. Mads Mikkelsen plays a bad guy named Kaecilius who trained with the Ancient One, then used his magical powers to align himself with dark forces out to destroy the world. Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) is a master sorcerer named Morto who fights alongside Dr. Strange. There’s also a levitation cape that plays a central role in the film. The audience totally geeked out when the cape planted itself on Stephen’s shoulders. Apparently, that’s how you know that Dr. Strange, neurosurgeon with the damaged hands, has become Doctor Strange, a magical force to be reckoned with.
Cumberbatch is well cast as Dr. Strange, even though he’s a Brit playing an American. His accent is flawless, and he’s got a flash of bravado and twinkle in his eye that could (almost) rival Tony Stark/Iron Man. The movie is in IMAX 3D, which is probably how any true fan should see it (despite some vertigo-inducing moments). And of course, as any Comic-Con veteran will tell you: never leave a Marvel movie before the very end of the end credits. Stick around for TWO teasers before Doctor Strange fades to black. Spoiler Alert: We haven’t seen the last of this guy. ☺