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‘Doctor Strange’ (review)

doctor-strange-comic-con-posterProduced by Kevin Feige
Screenplay by Scott Derrickson, C. Robert Cargill
Story by Jon Spaihts, Scott Derrickson,
C. Robert Cargill
Based on Doctor Strange by Steve Ditko
Directed by Scott Derrickson
Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor,
Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong,Benjamin Bratt
Michael Stuhlbarg, , Scott Adkins, Mads Mikkelsen,
Tilda Swinton

The Marvel Cinematic universe is about to go all Inception and I am not sure how I feel about it but I think I am okay with it?

Where I very much enjoyed Doctor Strange, I am also left with a “Huh, now what?”… and, “How do they plan on integrating all this insanity into the current MCU?”

I mean, they do it in the comics pretty seamlessly so, it should stand to reason, with their near flawless track record, that they can do it in their films as well.

Overall I enjoyed it.

Doctor Strange tells the tale of brilliant, cutting edge surgeon named Stephen Strange. He is an exceptional surgeon cum arrogant asshole with very few redeeming qualities except that if you have messed up your brainpan he will be able to fix it.

Think Sherlock but with a passable American accent.

Played by Benedict Cumberbatch, Strange… Sorry, DOCTOR Strange.

He didn’t got to school for 11 year to be called “Strange”, ends up with a physical and existential crisis after an accident cripples his hands and he can no longer perform the delicate and nuanced surgery that got him all the fame and fortune. His path of healing takes him to Nepal in hopes that an experimental school of Eastern medicine and its teacher called “The Ancient One”, played by Tilda Swinton may heal him completely. Doctor Strange has learned that they can heal him both in mind and body and return him to his non-crippled, amazing doctorly self.

Basically from here it is like 2/3 of the Batman Begins plot mixed with Inception mixed with Harry Potter for the next 40 minutes.

Earlier in the film you find out the bad guy, Kaecilus, played by Mads Mikkelsen, once a student of the “Ancient One”, has stolen a forbidden magic spell to bring a dark alternate universe and its menacing overlord, Dormammu, into our universe.

It seems though that after this initial plot line at the start of the film the film makers literally forget about this for what seems to be an hour until they need to move the story along again. Doctor Strange, with his two buddies, one a bookish Asian monk named, Wong (Benedict Wong) and the other a straight laced do-gooder fighting monk named, Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) fight to defeat the sub boss that is, Kaecilius, in order to have Doctor Strange face the REAL threat, Dormammu.

Basically Doctor Strange hits all the marks you want and the cast is fantastic. I was thoroughly entertained for an hour and fifty-five minutes and I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of dry humor in the film that got more than a belly laugh from me at times. This isn’t Captain America: Winter Soldier (which I consider the best MCU film to date) but it definitely isn’t Thor: Dark World either. I would put it squarely in line with Ant-Man and the first Thor in ranking.

It is definitely an, “origin” film and meant to set up the character for further shenanigans in the MCU. It is done very well, but it is still a set up film.

I could go into the obvious gaffs and continuity errors but it does not detract from the overall experience of the film. What I will say is that when dealing with time and time manipulation there is definitely a modicum of salt needed to let go of the obvious paradoxes and consequences of linear time travel. I mean I could spend a year talking about all the movies and their time travel paradoxes alone.

After careful consideration on this film I will say I definitely like it more now at the time of writing this then when I initially left the theater. My few real problems aren’t with the film itself but more with the use of the Deus Ex Machina of time travel and time loops as your solution to a problem.

Much Like Cumberbatch’s other journey into pop culture sci-fi in Star Trek: Into Darkness, Doctor Strange uses the ole “Khan blood will bring him back from the dead” scenario except with the “Eye of Agamotto” to help him in the end. It opens up a whole litany of questions about “How is there any consequences” or “How can there be any real gravitas now?”.

According to my wife, Doctor Strange now KNOWS the power and the consequences of wielding such power so now he will be less likely to just use it willy nilly. We shall see.

Basically, Marvel has made a solid film from a second, possibly third tier character and has pretty much seamlessly integrated into their universe. I would tell you to go see it but you already are. It is definitely worth the price of admission and for the first time I actually recommend seeing it in 3D. The “magic” effects were made for the kitsch.

Oh and of course. stay for the TWO after credit scenes. But I mean, You knew that too. If you didn’t I can’t help you. You may need to call a doctor.

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