By Gabrielle Stamile
Marvel has welcomed a new superhero to their movie franchise: Doctor Stephen Strange. The film, Doctor Strange, directed by Scott Derrickson, stars Benedict Cumberbatch (BBC’s Sherlock) as the titular doctor-turned-sorcerer and Mads Mikkelson (Hannibal) as Kaecilius, the villain. The film also stars Chiwetel Ejiofor as Mordo, Benedict Wong as Wong, Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One and Rachel McAdams as Christine Palmer.
The movie offers a new addition to the Marvel cinema universe, and also portrays an entertaining and unique origin story. (Warning: Spoilers below!)
Doctor Stephen Strange is a brilliant, highly regarded neurosurgeon, but he is also extremely arrogant. Driving to a conference, he gets into a horrific car crash that severely damages the nerves in his hands. Multiple surgeries and medications are unable to mend his wounds, and Strange begins losing hope until he hears of a place in Kathmandu called Kamar-Taj that seems to be able to heal anything. He goes, discovering that there is no scientific medical treatment, but spiritual teachings, which he believes to be insignificant. This is until the Ancient One gives him a brief insight into different dimensions through a colorful, psychedelic, fast-paced and weird journey that makes Strange want to learn the ways of magic and sorcery.
While Strange is learning the ways of mysticism, a former trainee Kalecilius is preparing to allow the dark-magic of Dormammu to take over the earth. Strange quickly learns to use his newly-discovered magic and intelligence—along with an awesome sentient cape—to fight Kalecilius.
This film is similar to many Marvel movies: it has a complex hero and villain, and lots of action and fight scenes that will keep you entertained. Cumberbatch balances the character’s arrogance and concerns well as he dives into a little-known spiritual world and training. Tilda Swinton portrays the Ancient One as being calm, pensive and wise. Mikkelsen plays the villain not as a dastardly bad guy, but as a man who believes his views and is willing to fight for what he believes.
The supporting cast also act out their character’s emotions and inner feelings well, making the characters behaviors very realistic. The cast is filled with exceptional actors that add depth to their roles and to the film. This film is also unique because it starts off in the real world —a normal and scientific, fact-based life — and goes to the unknown, bizarre and fascinating world of magic and mysticism. The kaleidoscope effects are visually incredible and amazing, as with the other special effects in the film. The magic and other dimensions can be a bit confusing and weird, but colorful, crazy, and interesting. It makes you wonder and think of the world as it is, and other possibilities of what lies beyond our conceptions of time and space. There are also bits of humor thrown in that adds some good fun and wit into the mix.
If you are a Marvel fan, you will probably go see the movie. If not, the acting, special effects, artwork and unique vision of the universe are well worth a watch. And as always, when watching a Marvel film, keep an eye out for Stan Lee, and stay after the credits for the extra clip (there are two clips after Doctor Strange: one shortly after the end of the movie, and one at the end of all the credits).
Fun Fact: Doctor Strange was mentioned in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) when Sitwell explains Zola’s algorithm as targeting people that are a threat to Hydra.