The latest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe follows the story of the famous talent neurosurgeon Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch). After a catastrophic car accident, Stephen sees that he must put his ego and arrogance aside in order to learn the art of magic, mysticism and alternate dimensions. Situated in New York’s Greenwich Village, he must act as a middle man between the physical world and the intangible one. It’s all about a man expanding his keyhole-sized thinking into entertaining the impossible like the metaphysical elements of our world and the world’s beyond.
Well, this is a strange one. We all thought Guardians Of The Galaxy was Marvel’s wildcard but I believe that that title belongs to Doctor Strange. He’s a character steeped in weirdness, mysticism and the otherworldly; infested with its 70s roots from creators Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. In many scenes, this movie feels like the equivalent to being on acid or a highly concentrated form of LSD. The very first time Strange dabbles in his astral form is one of the most mindboggling scenes in the entire film, in addition to a very Inception New York when our heroes take on Kaecilius.
To get the ball rolling: Stephen Strange is confident neurosurgeon whose hands are severely hurt in a car accident. Doctors tell him that he’ll never operate again. Looking for treatment, he ends up in Nepal, under the tutelage of the Ancient One. She reveals a world of infinite dimensions, through a conglomerate of visual sequences that are some of the best examples of visual imagery this year. They are like Interstellar and Inception had a lovechild. It’s obvious director Scott Derrickson was inspired by Christopher Nolan. In conjunction to that, we are witness to awesome examples martial arts. The very first scene with Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal) and Tilda Swinton defying the laws of gravity and what we call logic is a great one.
This movie must be watched in IMAX 3D or standard 3D at the very least, as reality bends around us. It’s a cataclysmic assault on the mind and then you’ll start to ask yourself impossible questions. It’s a brutal barrage on the mind and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Judging by the few Strange comics I have read, they’ve got the acid trippy visuals down pact. I can say, after watching this movie twice, that there are scenes that will blow you mind from this reality and through the quantum realm. There are moments that even the likes of Nolan couldn’t replicate. Cities, corridors, streets and avenues are folding into each other, and your brain folds with it. For viewers to see this movie in all its glory, 3D is a must. 3D is an artistic and a necessary choice that we all must make.
I’m grateful that this movie isn’t filled with jokes. There are few jokes, and it isn’t cringeworthy humour like we are witness to in the Avengers movies. Strange stays grounded, as are the performances from great talents Benedict Cumberbatch (Imitation Game), Chiwitel Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave) and Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton) with Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal) and Benedict Wong (Marco Polo) delivering too. As characters discuss dark dimensions, the real world churns on like nothing is amiss.
Doctor Strange stands on its own. As viewers, we know it’s part of the MCU but at the same time, its links to the wider universe are made evident through subtle references like when Wong says “heroes like the Avengers protect the world from physical dangers. We safeguard it against more mystical threats.” or the very subtle hint to War Machine at the beginning. There are limits to Marvel’s talents, like giving us another lacklustre villain in Mads Mikkelsen’s Kaecilius. As always, Mads delivers, but his character was lacking. He made the best of a bad situation and that goes to down to hiccups in the creative process and not his acting talent. He’s proved time and time again how capable an actor he is.
Doctor Strange is unlike any other movie in the MCU. In my opinion, this is the start of an edgier universe. With great performances, a good story and otherworldly visuals, Doctor Strange is by far the most original movie in the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe.