Doctor Strange promises a mind trip. A creative treat for the mind and eye is what you will receive.
Benedict Cumberbatch (Strange) leads a powerhouse cast including Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen, and Tilda Swinton. Together they bring life to one of Marvel’s more unusual characters; a man who deals with the mystical and magical side of a universe already populated with iron men, gods, hulks, and avengers.
The story (familiar to long-time Marvel fans) starts off with a rich, arrogant doctor who crashes his expensive car. The accident destroys the world-class neurosurgeon’s prized, steady hands, leaving him unable to continue his work.
Desperate to find a cure for his new condition, Strange spends all his money and pushes away the only person who cares about him. He sets off for the other side of the world, searching for any possible solution.
In Kathmandu, he is introduced to The Ancient One, a mystical defender of the earth. She offers a spiritual remedy — one that Doctor Stephen Strange can’t wrap his considerable intellect around.
Thus begins the journey of our hero.
This is an extremely well-made movie, with top-notch acting. The cinematography is second to none. The reality-bending special effects hearken back to Inception (as many other reviews of this move seem to, these days), but this film takes it to the next level, with chases and fights inside the bent matter. The visual direction of the movie is breathtaking and trailblazing. It sets a new cinematic standard for what fiction movies can and should be, particularly given its fantastical source material.
The humor is woven seamlessly with the action and drama, providing well-placed comic relief that isn’t a jarring disruption to the scenes.
The negative: at first, I wasn’t crazy about the Ancient One’s portrayal. However, as the movie unfolded, the direction they took the story made their earlier decisions far more palatable. I flirt with being a comic purist; it was hard to divorce myself from the source. Once I succeeded, I enjoyed the creative license they took.
I wasn’t crazy about Rachel McAdam’s performance, but I can’t say with certainty whether it was her acting, the writing, or the direction she was given. She did well enough through most of the film, but her easy acceptance of the unbelievable things happening around her seemed… unbelievable. A realistic person coming-to-terms with this magical world would involve debilitating disbelief, and at least some amount of unwillingness to believe the things she has seen.
That said, perhaps the frequency of supernatural events in the New York of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has made its denizens much more willing to accept that anything could happen.
Go see this movie.
4.5 out of 5 Stars.