Doctor Strange (PG)
Runnng time: 1hr 55min
Director: Scott Derrickson
Writers: Jon Spaihts, Scott Derrickson
Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams
The marvel cinematic universe has branched out into the Doctor Strange comics with a movie that I’d imagine more than a handful of viewers will deem unknown territory. Along with Guardians of the Galaxy I think it’s safe to say that Strange is one of the lesser known super heroes in the Marvel world currently on screen and, if this movie is anything to go, by a delightfully welcome one.
The story of is primarily about an egotistical – and genius – brain surgeon Dr Stephen Strange who, due to a bit of texting while driving, gets his hands smooshed. It’s not unusual for people who are driving recklessly in movies to get spun off the road like one of those spinny hour glass looking things circus school students use and this is no different.
The key plot point here is that Strange has, up until now, had incredibly deft dexterity, making him the most legendary brain surgeon in the world. Since his entire identity revolves around him being better than everyone else at brain surgerising he becomes quite the mopey-martin and pursues a rumour that brings him to Asia as rumour has it some interesting looking buddhisty kind of characters have the ability to heal all kinds of issues using the spiritual realm.
This part of the movie is actually quite a well written drama about a man struggling to deal with an identity crisis after a horrible accident and would almost be worth watching on its own if not for the misalignment he would suffer amongst the rest of the Avengers. The trip to Asia that leads to him studying kung fu and various magical arts is reminiscent of every martial arts movie with a white lead character there has ever been. Due to Strange’s scepticism (and Cumberbatch’s performance) it’s even interesting up to the point where something actually happens, unlike every other origin story ever.
Saying that, I do think the film suffers a little from Origin-story-itis, in an unusual way.
Traditionally the problems with origin stories are that two thirds of the film is seemingly wasted getting to the point where a traditionally unimportant man (or woman), in the eyes of the audience, develops the abilities that make him/her interesting. Though this happens in the film, Strange’s life story is so compelling that it is never a bore, and that seemingly inimitable sense of humour makes the journey completely fascinating.
The issue, I think, comes when the ‘comic book’ story line occurs, and when the ‘final battle’ has to happen it seems a little forced and has a shift in tone, though I think it is handled as well as it could have been which brings me to the most important point.
This film NEEDS to be seen in 3D, preferably in IMAX, I have never (as far as I’m aware) said this before, neither about James Cameron’s Avatar nor Christopher Nolan’s Inception. The visual element in Doctor Strange is a delight by itself and forgoing the trip to the cinema for this is something that may be regrettable in the future.
Some times the visuals are necessary plot points and sometimes it’s just fancy showing off, though unfortunately it covers up for some slightly more vapid story telling in the third act. I know some of you aren’t able to see 3D, so I hope you don’t interpret this as a hate crime, for everyone else though if you feel like you are going to care about this character in the future, go see it as soon as you can in the biggest screen in the best 3D.
This is the best origin story film Marvel have done, I am very excited to see Stephen Strange in the Avengers and the other movies he ends up in and even if you know nothing about him, as I did not, I urge you to see this (in 3D – did I mention that already?) if you are a fan of comic book movies.
4 out of 5 Nerds