Marvel tends to be spot-on with casting choices for its superheroes and superheroines.
Robert Downey Jr. perfectly encapsulates everything about the character of Tony Stark and Iron Man. Hugh Jackman is gruff and blunt and does not age, just like Wolverine. Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Stephen Strange proves to be another terrific casting choice.
“Doctor Strange” opens with Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) and his zealots entering a library to kill the librarian and steal some pages out of a magical book.
The audience is then introduced to Doctor Stephen Strange, one of the best surgeons in New York and possibly the world.
Everyone knows of his skills as a brilliant surgeon, and he makes sure to remind everyone. Strange is a quick-witted, arrogant narcissist obsessed with being the best at what he does. However, his world turns upside down after a horrific car crash that ruins his hands.
This leads Strange on a journey to seek out and attempt every possible cure to heal his hands. He views his hands as his livelihood, and if he cannot use them, then he is at a loss for what to do.
Strange’s obsession with finding some kind of healing process pushes away Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams), a fellow surgeon and the only person close to him.
After exhausting all his resources, Strange learns of a place called Kamar-Taj from a former patient, Jonathan Pangborn (Benjamin Bratt), who was previously a paraplegic but somehow regained the ability to walk again.
Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) finds Strange wandering the streets in Kathmandu and leads him to Kamar-Taj. Mordo, a student of the Ancient One, acts as a friend and brotherly figure to Strange as he comes to grips with the outpour of new information expanding his perspective.
Tilda Swinton plays the Ancient One, the teacher/mentor at Kamar-Taj. She sees immense potential in Strange, but she does not want another student to stray from the path of Mystic Arts. Strange does not believe in other dimensions or magic, but the Ancient One poses the question to him, “You think you know how the world works. You think this material universe is all there is. What if I told you the reality you know is one of many?”
Kaecilius was a former Master of Mystic Arts who left Kamar-Taj feeling disenchanted with the Ancient One’s teachings. He intends to help release Dormamu and the dark dimension upon the world. Kaecilius’ reasons for turning evil are not explained very much, but he seems quite angry.
Wong (Benedict Wong), another Master of the Mystic Arts, gives advice to Strange while also answering some of Strange’s many questions.
Wong explains to Strange the role they play when he says, “Heroes like the Avengers protect the world from physical dangers. We safeguard it against more mystical threats.”
Audiences see Strange’s transformation from someone stuck in his ways to someone who finally opens his eyes as he learns and practices the Mystic Arts in order to stop the world from being enveloped by darkness.
Mordo’s journey throughout the film proves interesting because he never questions anything until Strange begins to question things.
The manner in which “Doctor Strange” is shot shows off stunning visuals and impressive grandiosity. Many scenes are reminiscent of “Inception” (2010), but intensified by a thousand percent.
Buildings fall and flip upside down while characters are fighting and chasing each other. Seeing characters run across the sides of buildings with ease is a parkour runner’s dream.
Another visual aspect of the film was a kaleidoscope effect. The film practically throws audiences into a giant kaleidoscope for certain sequences, where the screen becomes an overload of vibrant colors and numerous shapes, giving off psychedelic vibes.
The fight choreography is ultra-stylized with close-combat encounters, but with magical weapons and spells. Swinton’s capabilities definitely highlighted each scene in which she had a fight sequence.
At the core of “Doctor Strange” is still a formulaic origin story introducing a new character into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film helps bridge together the connections the Marvel Universe has cleverly put together while also giving audiences another dimension or two to think about.
Marvel continues to impress with every film they release year after year. “Doctor Strange” felt quite experimental because of everything being thrown at the audience such as time, space, colors and magic.
The film proves to be entertaining, but it can be very weird- yes, even strange.
Fans can stay after the credits for two of the post-credits scenes Marvel is known to include.
“Doctor Strange” is rated PG-13 for sci-fi violence and action throughout and an intense crash sequence.