Doctor Strange will obliterate your expectations. It is an enormously entertaining film; a rousing cinematic adventure loaded with stunning visual effects. It never gets bogged down by melodrama. Or over reliant on CGI bells and whistles to make up for plot shortcomings. Director Scott Derrickson has crafted a beauty. The action, humor, and pacing had me transfixed from the opening scene. Marvel Studios raises its own bar with another extraordinary installment.
Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Doctor Stephen Strange, a brilliant but arrogant New York City neurosurgeon. His world comes crashing down after a horrendous car accident. Unable to use his hands precisely, he becomes bitter and remote; seeking any treatment to restore his career. A chance insult leads him to Karma-Taj, a temple in Nepal. There he discovers a powerful sorceress called the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton). She shows him that the limits of his physical self are microscopic in comparison to the true nature of reality.
Every genre film is only as good as its lead. Benedict Cumberbatch is cast to perfection here. The audience follows his path from egotism to mysticism. As the Ancient One opens his mind, he grows as a character, the literary hero's journey. Much like his portrayal of Sherlock Homes, Cumberbatch infuses Strange with a wry likeability. He develops this unique persona that just elicits empathy. You root for him to succeed and when he notches victories, we're totally onboard for the ride.
The special effects in Doctor Strange are mind-blowing. Honestly, I wasn't expecting much from the trailers. It all seemed like a rehash of Inception. It feels great to be proven so wrong. Strap yourself in because this ride is worth the admission. The sorcerers can travel anywhere and manipulate dimensions. The film portrays this as a kaleidoscope effect. The characters have elaborate fights where the setting continually changes. It's pretty freaking cool. Stoners are going to be huge fans of this movie.
The plot is steeped in the supernatural. It does play out in a fairly standard way, typical of every superhero origin story. In this sense it breaks no new ground whatsoever and can be a point of criticism. Doctor Strange was intriguing to me because his character was unfamiliar. I think the majority of audiences will be engaged on a similar level. Hopefully, diehard comic fans who know every nugget of Doctor Strange will be as impressed.
Doctor Strange has to be seen in IMAX 3D. It'll probably cost a fortune to take a family, but trust me when I say it is worth every penny. A film this glorious needs to be experienced in the medium it was made for. As in Civil War, there are two scenes that follow the movie; one is mid-credits, the other after they end. So remember to keep on your 3D glasses, there's a major set-up in the outro.