As the election results have shown us, life can be stranger than fiction.
This is my review of Doctor Strange!
Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a successful but arrogant surgeon whose career ends after a terrible car accident practically destroys his hands. After speaking with a formerly-paralyzed man who has since been completely healed, Doctor Strange journeys to Kathmandu, Nepal, where he meets the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) and finds himself getting swooped in to a mystical battle with dark forces led by the sinister Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen).
Holy cow, the visuals are INCREDIBLE! The battle sequences are truly a sight to behold. I love the idea that these mystic warriors actually bend time and physical space in order to do battle. The reality-bending is just so COOL! I like how it’s not all shaky-cam and impossible to see what’s going on. The spells cast are bright and colorful, the fight choreography is smooth and well-paced, and the battles themselves are brimming with imagination. This is one of the rare films where the 3D enhances the experience and isn’t just a nauseating gimmick. You’ll still enjoy it in 2D, but if you are thinking of seeing it in 3D, then DO IT! Of course, if you are concerned about cyber sickness, then here’s my review of The Walk, where I offer tips and tricks on how to prevent cyber sickness: https://catholicgirlbloggin.net/2015/10/11/cgb-review-of-the-walk-2015/
Benedict Cumberbatch has yet to disappoint me. I think it’s been established that you could cast this guy as a lampshade and he would still give a great performance. While the role of Stephen Strange himself is not entirely compelling, Cumberbatch has the time of his life with this character. He makes Stephen Strange arrogant but likable; his sense of self-importance doesn’t harm anyone, it only makes it satisfying when the movie allows him to get his humbling comeuppance. The movie has an awesome moral about humbling yourself for something greater, which is Christianity in a nutshell.
Tilda Swinton is another actor who can do no wrong (in movies, I mean). She brings a complexity to her character The Ancient One. Yeah, she’s basically a tall, female Yoda, but Swinton gives a grounded performance that enables her to make the role her own.
I’m sorry, I just can’t get over how much I LOVE the mythology of this world! There’s a line where one character says (I’m going to paraphrase here), “The Avengers protect the physical world, while we fight off more mystical dangers.” It made me think of the battles that take place in the spiritual realm where angels and saints fight for us against sinister forces. In our secular world, it’s refreshing to see any big budget film embrace the idea that there is an invisible reality within our physical world where two opposing forces do battle for our souls. Also I appreciate how Kaecilius is basically a discount Lucifer (a powerful being who becomes drunk with pride, wants more power and causes division in his wake); yeah, the similarities are there.
I don’t want to go into spoilers, but I’ll just say that how Doctor Strange defeats the main antagonist is quite clever and fun to watch.
The relationship between Doctor Strange and his (ex-girlfriend-ish?) Christine Palmer is underdeveloped. I’m glad that it’s a mostly platonic relationship, but they don’t have enough scenes together where we get to care for them as a couple.
Okay, so the Ancient One runs this whole mystic, inter-dimensional operation with Mordo, Wong and…a handful of other people? Yeah, even though we do see other sorcerers training, when the actual fighting starts, we only see Ancient One, Mordo and maybe two other unnamed characters doing battle. I kind of wish both the Ancient One’s group and Kaecilius’ gang had more members.
Overall, I really love Doctor Strange! Benedict Cumberbatch alone makes it a must-see, but the creative and energetic battle sequences and the clever use of 3D makes even more worthwhile. Like Kubo and the Two Strings, the story and the visuals enable Doctor Strange to stand tall and proud in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Saint Timothy, pray for us.