REVIEW: Doctor Strange (2016)

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2016, Marvel Studios

Director:
Scott Derrickson
Producer:
Kevin Feige
Writers:
Stan Lee (original characters)
Steve Ditko (original characters)
Jon Spaihts (screenplay)
Scott Derrickson (screenplay)
C. Robert Cargill (screenplay)
Cinematography:
Ben Davis
Editing:
Sabrina Plisco
Wyatt Smith

Cast:
Benedict Cumberbatch (Dr. Stephen Strange)
Chiwetel Ejiofor (Mordo)
Rachel McAdams (Christine Palmer)
Benedict Wong (Wong)
Mads Mikkelsen (Kaecilius)
Tilda Swinton (The Ancient One)
Michael Stuhlbarg (Dr. Nicodemus West)
Benjamin Bratt (Jonathan Pangborn)
Scott Adkins (Lucian/Strong Zealot)
Zara Phythian (Brunette Zealot)
Alaa Safi (Tall Zealot)
Katrina Durden (Blonde Zealot)

Marvel’s Supreme Sorcerer properly comes to life in this fun and very surreal adaptation driven by the rightfully cast Benedict Cumberbatch in the titular role.

Dr. Stephen Strange is one of New York City’s top neurosurgeons and a total trivia nut. However, he does have a reputation of being very arrogant at times. However, one fateful night, on his way to an event, Strange ends up in a near fatal car accident which renders his hands useless due to complete nerve damage. Having tried virtually everything, Strange loses all control until he learns during a session at physical therapy that someone had once been paralyzed and was fully healed a few years later. Strange finds the man, Jonathan Pangborn, who advises him to go to Nepal and find Karma-Taj.

There, he is saved from a mugging by Mordo, who leads him to the Ancient One, a Celtic mystic who has the powers not only to heal, but the powers of the astral plane, which allows one spirit to leave its physical state as well as the powers to conjure weapons and portals using the mind. At first, the Ancient One sees Strange as the arrogant man he was. However, under the tutelage of the Ancient One, Mordo, and librarian Wong, Strange begins to eventually learn and master his powers. Meanwhile, the Ancient One’s former protege, Kaecilius, has stolen pages from the Book of Cagliostro, which has a deadly ritual that will unleash the deadly Dormammu from the Dark Dimension to take over the Earth. Strange finds he may be the one who has the power to stop Earth from being in the hands of the Dark Dimension.

When it was first announced that Marvel’s Supreme Sorcerer Doctor Strange was getting his own film, many have called out that Benedict Cumberbatch of Sherlock and Star Trek Into Darkness fame, is the perfect casting for the titular role and Marvel listened. Under the direction of horror film helmer Scott Derrickson, who co-wrote the film with Jon Spaihts and C. Robert Cargill, this has some dark elements, but also has surreal moments reminiscent of Christopher Nolan’s Inception with the use of the Mirror Dimension, which doesn’t affect the real world but does affect the heroes and villains.

As mentioned, Benedict Cumberbatch is perfectly cast as we see Strange grow from an arrogant, cocky, and witty neurosurgeon to an unselfish hero who still is at least witty. His chemistry with Benedict Wong of Marco Polo fame brings that comic wit that is necessary for a Marvel film. Chiwetel Ejiofor brings Mordo to the table as someone who follows the Ancient One and proves to have a brotherly and a mentor relationship with Strange. However, one who has followed the comics knows what will eventually be in store for Mordo.

Mads Mikkelsen continues to prove why he is such a great actor. He plays the villainous role of Kaecilius, a former protege of the Ancient One poisoned by the dangerous Dormammu and seeks to lead his army, the Zealots, to ensure the Dark Dimension takes over. His Zealots are played by some top action talents including Scott Adkins, Zara Phythia, Alaa Safi, and Katrina Durden. The casting of Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One truly caused a stir. However, when her backstory was revealed by Mordo, it was perhaps done in a way not to tick everyone off. What is great that Swinton not only played the role in terms of bringing a philosophical side to the story, but in two pivotal scenes, she showed she can kick as much butt as well.

The action scenes of the film are quite a hoot, even if at times the Inception-like scenery can make your stomach turn or really look like you were in a surreal moment. In the pivotal scene where Doctor Strange, upon his first meeting with the Ancient One and learning of the powers she attains, brings a scene that will make even Keanu Reeves say his trademark, “Woah” for quite a while. Yes fans, Scott Adkins himself makes the most of his screen time including a very pivotal and at times laughable fight scene with Doctor Strange and the finale of the film is seriously mindblowing and that is meant in such the best way possible.

If you like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, then it is imperative you see Doctor Strange. Excellent casting, excellent storyline, some really insane surreal action done in a very good way and yes we eventually see its connection in a mid-credit scenes as well as shots of a certain building in the film…we are talking New York City after all. Definitely one to check out!

WFG RATING: A

This film is currently playing in theaters. Check your local theaters for showtimes and see this film!

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