Film Review: Doctor Strange

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Doctor Strange 1

Synopsis: After his career as a neurosurgeon is destroyed due to a car accident, Doctor Strange seeks a cure to still his trembling hands. When Western medicine fails him, he journeys east, seeking a magical cure.

 

What he discovers opens his eyes to a whole new world of magic and possibilities – and the dangers that come with them.

Doctor Strange must quell his arrogance and move past his self-absorption if he is to help protect the world against a threat they cannot understand.

While the Avengers protect the world physically, Doctor Strange must help protect it spiritually.

If he dares.

Film: Doctor Strange

Director: Scott Derrickson

Date: 2016

When I requested Doctor Strange, I didn’t initially realise it was part of the Marvel universe. All I knew was that it was about an arrogant scientist who ends up with magical powers.

In a nutshell, that was all I needed to know: it sums up the plot quite accurately.

As soon as I realised it was Marvel, however, my expectations rose. An unfair reaction? Possibly. But I wasn’t disappointed.

I found the opening of the film slow. In fact, I had no idea what was going on as buildings twisted and folded in on themselves and characters raced around with magical shields blasting each other with power. After, naturally, a poor librarian gets beheaded. I initially wasn’t sure what I had let myself in for – who knew guarding books was such a dangerous job?

Then the main character gets introduced and it starts to make sense!

Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is arrogant and self-absorbed, focusing only on what will enhance his reputation as a great neurosurgeon. He treats those around him despicably and there is nothing to make you like his character.

It is not until he reaches the Kamar-Taj and starts to understand how blind he has been that you can warm to his character. His thirst for knowledge makes him adapt to his new powers quickly and you sense in him the desire to do the right thing.

Arrogance and fear still keep you from learning the simplest and most significant lesson of all.

Which is?

It’s not about you.

Of course, when he doubts that he can do it and initially refuses to stay around, you know the end result. It’s a Marvel film: he is going to become the hero and save the world, there is no other option. But even knowing where his journey will end, it doesn’t stop his character development from being any more enjoyable.

I seem to have watched a few things lately starring Cumberbatch and you can’t deny he is a gifted actor. There was, however, hints of his Sherlock present: the arrogance and the assumption he is right and sees things differently to everyone else. But it’s a role I think he delivers well and he made me feel for Strange: he shows his arrogance and vulnerabilities, sometimes simultaneously.

I thought the rest of the cast also gave decent performances, even if they were being tranquil and calm for the majority of the film. They balanced Strange’s character, resulting in enjoyable interactions and humorous dialogue. Rachel McAdams made me laugh with her portrayal of the overwhelmed Christine Palmer.

You can’t review a Marvel film and not talk about the effects. As usual, the magic was incredibly well done. I did find, however, that the changing landscape was quite unnerving and seeing it on a big screen might have made me feel slightly sick.

After the first twenty minutes or so, I thoroughly enjoyed this film. There was the correct balance between humour and tension and the magic was granted wonder without being confusing. I do wonder, with all these Marvel films, if they are going to run out of actors though…

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