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  • Doctor Strange | Review

    By | November 4, 2016

    dsDirector: Scott Derrickson

    Writers: Jon Spaihts, Scott Derrickson, C. Robert Cargill, Stan Lee & Steve Ditko (based on the Marvel Comics by)

    Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Mads Mikkelsen, Tilda Swinton, Michael Stuhlbarg, Benjamin Bratt

    Marvel fanboys may living in the golden age of comic book movie-making but the rest of us are just along for the ride. Don’t get me wrong, it could be worse, as evidenced by Marvel’s latest offering, Doctor Strange, which features a talented cast and is never less than entertaining even if ultimately forgettable. For someone who grew up in the 70’s and 80’s reading comic books and looking forward to seeing my favorite Marvel characters appear on the big screen only to suffer through the original film versions of Captain American and the Fantastic Four, it’s still somewhat mind blowing to see such Marvel characters as the Vision and Dr. Strange in films that deftly using special effects that have advanced to the point where the almost unimaginable now appears on screen as a reality.

    Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a brilliant, ambitious and arrogant New York neurosurgeon who, after losing the use of his hands in a car accident, finds himself in a desperate spot. When medical science proves not up to the task of helping him, he turns to the realm of the supernatural instead, seeking help from the occult. Strange travels to Nepal to learn under the tutelage of the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton). File this under the growing Marvel tradition of stories about wealth, successful dickheads who are humbled and transformed into doers of good. Soon he’s battling Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), a traitorous former disciple of the Ancient One who is now dead set on destroying the earth for some supervillainous reason (does it even matter any longer?).

    Benedict Cumberbatch does provide a spark to the film with his combination of vulnerability and quick wit and charisma. It’s striking to see him onscreen speaking in an American accent and equally striking to see how talented he is at physical comedy. Dr. Strange’s primary weapon is a mystical cape, the Cloak of Levitation, that seems to have a mind of its own and is a real scene stealer. One of the biggest laughs in the movie comes when the cloak provides an assist to Strange, his face streaked with blood, tears, and sweat after a battle, softly dabbing at the Cumberbatch’s face in an effort to help him clean up.

    What we have with Marvel’s latest is an admirable set of Hollywood A-listers in service of a mystical superhero tale bolstered by top notch special effects, all of which combines for a fun afternoon at the theater. There are laughs, lots of fighting, a little romance and a whole lot of special effects…meaning that as enjoyable as the film is, there is a certain sense of displacement in watching. You know epic battle are occurring and there is epic destruction, but it’s all set at a great distance from our realities and therefore robbed of any real power. It all feels like entertainment for entertainment’s sake, which is fine, but it’s why for the most part superhero movies have lost their power to thrill and move.

    Rating: 7/10

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