Peter Parker, Steve Rogers, Tony Stark. I am usually quite good at memorizing the secret identities of superheroes, but for some reason I always forget Doctor Strange’s first name. Wow, I guess it is really true that when you’re strange no one remembers your name. Thankfully, for reviewing purposes, I can still recall this film’s premise. Doctor Strange, played by the talented Benedict Cumberbatch, is a gifted surgeon who is forced to retire when his hands get crushed in an automobile crash. The irreparable nerve damage he sustained causes Strange’s fingers to twitch more than me after one too many coffees. When medical science fails to treat his injury Strange decides to research magic in the hopes of uncovering a cure.
After receiving a tip off, from a paraplegic who can amazingly walk, Strange travels to Nepal in search of his own miraculous remedy. There he encounters an expert in the mystical arts known as the Ancient One. Under her tutelage he begins to learn astral projection, teleportation and other cool spells. Strange initially struggles to master sorcery, but thanks to his photographic memory he eventually absorbs enough knowledge to become one of the Ancient One’s top students. Man, I really envy Doctor Strange. How I long for a photographic memory, as I can be rather absent minded when it comes to recalling facts. For example, would you believe that I have completely forgotten the lead character’s forename?
Eventually the titular Doctor Strange assumes the mantle of sorcerer supreme and vows to protect Earth from evil using his wizardry skills. The global threats Strange battles in this flick are the Ancient One’s former protégé Kaecilius and a demon from another dimension named Dormammu. As is often the case with Marvel films neither antagonist is particularly compelling. Kaecilius, who desires immortality, is similar to Thor’s nemesis Malekith. They both look menacing and they both lack personality. Dormammu on the other hand is reminiscent of the live action Galactus (Fantastic Four) and Parallax (Green Lantern.) What’s the deal with turning epic villains into a miasma that barely gets any screen time? I can’t get excited about evil clouds.
My rating for Doctor Strange is four and a half stars. Watching this movie was a bit like the time I checked out Thor. I am not a fan of the comics starring Strange or the Norse deity, but I ended up loving both their movies all the same. The two-hour running time whizzed by thanks to the strong acting and comedic moments, which star Strange’s sentient cape and a straight-faced monastery librarian named Wong. Another highlight of note would have to be the action scenes. Given that the movie features conjurers, who can warp the fabric of reality, it should come as no surprise that Strange’s battles draw inspiration from stuff like the Matrix and Inception. Said sequences are creatively shot and very trippy… good thing then that I didn’t munch on any hash brownies during my screening.
I’ll conclude this review by getting on my soapbox and saying that all the hubbub about the Ancient One’s casting was unwarranted. Tilda Swinton kicked ass in this movie and I have no complaints regarding her portrayal of Strange’s wise mentor. Critics grumbling about the character being changed from Asian to Caucasian are hypocrites, because no one chastised the studio for altering the skin colour of Strange’s ally Karl Mordor. Ah whatever, let’s not dwell on negativity. Doctor Strange is excellent and I highly recommend it. Watching this film takes me back to the days when I would pretend to be a superhero. My crime-fighting alias was Goldfish Man. I possessed the power of super forgetfulness. Can you believe that I don’t remember Dr Strange’s first name?