*SPOILER ALERT!!! Do not read further if you are avoiding spoilers. You’ve been warned.*
Doctor Strange begins with Dr. Stephen Strange, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, as a talented surgeon called on by his love interest, Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams), to save a patient with a bullet lodged in his head. Dr. Strange, a skilled and talented neurosurgeon, smoothly performs the operation despite having another doctor breathing down his neck and ready to harvest the organs from the dying patient.
Doctor Strange later in the evening drives to a presentation when he is in a violent car accident. He is taken to the hospital and wakes up to find his hands no longer work and he cannot hold them steady. The talented neurosurgeon is devastated by the effects of the accident and what this might mean for his future career.
Traditional medicine is not enough to nurture Dr. Strange back to his former self and he becomes very frustrated at not having the use of his hands. While working with his physical therapist, Strange complains of the impossibility of his situation and asks if he’s ever seen anyone worse recover before. The therapist lets Strange know he has and even finds the medical files as proof.
After visiting the patient, Strange discovers the man was able to recover from his paraplegia after visiting a place called Kamar-Taj. Doctor Strange goes to Kathmandu, Nepal to find Kamar-Taj in the hopes of recovering the use of his hands. What he finds is a secret compound where he meets his soon to be teacher, The Ancient One played by Tilda Swinton.
At first, The Ancient One throws Doctor Strange out on the streets but is convinced by Mordor, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, to give him a chance even after Strange demonstrates his arrogance about what he think he knows. The Ancient One agrees and Strange is allowed to study at Kamar-Taj.
When Doctor Strange first meets The Ancient One, we are treated to an interesting and psychedelic realm beyond the physical. It is all very trippy aesthetically. I can honestly say this might have been a fun movie to watch in 3D. We don’t usually watch movies in 3D but I can see why there might be an appeal to it in Doctor Strange.
Doctor Strange studies and trains at Kamar-Taj and becomes quite skilled, although still just a beginner, he even learns to read spells in the library which are overseen by the librarian, Wong (Benedict Wong). Eventually, he learns to use the Eye of Agamoto, bend time, and reads from a book a treacherous sorcerer named Kaecillius (Mads Mikkelsen) stole a spell from. Kaecillius and his followers are using this spell to summon a powerful being named Dormammu from the dark dimension in the quest for immortality.
The story is well written and avoided being bogged down like many other Marvel movies because it is simply about Doctor Strange and not other superheroes. Avengers tends to feel slightly overwhelming when there are multiple heroes with many backgrounds. This was a welcome break to the typical Marvel movie. Not that I don’t love my Marvel movies, but it’s nice to see something different.
Doctor Strange also feels different in presentation since this is not about a hero gifted with powers but about an injured person looking to be cured. Strange must practice, study, and learn to use his powers to aid the other sorcerers. The movie showed he was imperfect in his powers because he was not completely done learning but Strange decides to fight and protect Earth from Dormammu anyway. The hero in Doctor Strange is vulnerable and this helps create an interesting character.
As with all Marvel movies, there is always a Stan Lee cameo and Doctor Strange is no different. I love to find the continued joke of Stan Lee cameos in the Marvel movies. This cameo made me giggle when Strange and Mordo fall onto the side of a bus and Stan Lee takes no notice as he laughs at his comic book. I assume it’s a comic book. I mean come on, it’s a Marvel movie.
The trippy effects were neat to see. Buildings folding over and turning sideways, fingers growing hands, the brightly colored kaleidoscope effects were an interesting view. The building effects reminded me of Inception.
I believe the actors all did a good job with their roles. I enjoyed watching Cumberbatch play Doctor Strange and his chemistry with Tilda Swinton’s character as his teacher was great. Tilda Swinton played her role as The Ancient One well, but after watching the film and seeing the controversy, I do not understand why the creator of the movie could not have chosen an Asian woman instead. Yeah sure in the movie when Doctor Strange first enters the compound he is told to forget what he thinks he knows and is surprised The Ancient One is a white woman, but I don’t understand why it wouldn’t have been any less surprising if The Ancient One had been an Asian woman instead. All that aside, I do think Swinton did a good job on her role.
The theme of finding an alternative path when a clear path is not available assists the story well in this movie. Christine, Strange’s love interest, encourages him to find another way to live life, other than through his career. Christine’s patient with the bullet in his head finds a path to life with the help of Christine even when it is thought he is dead. Strange searches for any path to healing his hands but instead of finding the path back to his career, he finds another path to help people through what he learns at Kamar-Taj. Even Dormammu, a creature who seems impossible to defeat, must be taken care of in an unexpected way.
Forget everything you think you know about Marvel movies and watch Doctor Strange. I really enjoyed this film and it is a nice departure from the typical invulnerable superhero movie.
What did you think of Doctor Strange? Put your Geeky Talk in the comments below.