By Christian DiMartino
Gather up your friends and your doobies: there’s a new doctor in town.
That’s Doctor Strange, the hero of Marvel’s newest outing, Doctor Strange, and man, what a glorious entry. We’ve seen so many of these superhero origin stories that a new idea would seem hard to come by. And in some cases, Doctor Strange can feel as such. But to hell with it. Doctor Strange is so glorious in terms of its vision that whatever faults are present are easy to ignore.
The film is directed by Scott Derrickson, whose horror films (Sinister, The Exorcism of Emily Rose) were actually fairly solid. But yet he wouldn’t seem an ideal choice to make this film, and this feels like a film that’s bigger than him. Derrickson is more than up to the challenge though. The visual effects and cinematography are so awe-inspiring that it can feel like more than your traditional Marvel outing.
Benedict Cumberbatch owns the role of Dr. Stephen Strange, an egomaniac. Seriously. His track record is so impressive that he won’t even take on a patient that he knows he can’t help. Also, his idea of a date is apparently taking a girl to his place so then she (she, in particular, being a fellow doctor played by Rachel McAdams, who needs more screentime because she’s Rachel McAdams) can listen to him talk. But hey, I do that too.
Strange’s comes to a crashing halt though. Literally. He is in a car accident, which pretty much destroy the use of his hands. They’re not gone, they just don’t work. Thinking that all hope is lost, he soon discovers that there’s another form of healing, but it’s not what you think. He travels to Kathmandu, where he meets the Ancient One, played by Tilda Swinton. She, along with Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) show him this “healing,” which basically consists of time bending and manipulation, along with teleportation and all kinds of crazy s**t.
But of course there are evil forces among them. Those evil forces being Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) and his goons, who like most evil forces, want to destroy the world. As a character, he can seem a little generic. But Mikkelsen, best known to me as the eye-bleeding Le Chiffre from Casino Royale, is a chilling presence.
Doctor Strange is strange, yes. But it’s good fun. Good, good fun. I regret not seeing this film in IMAX 3-D, which normally I’d assume is a waste. But seeing this film would probably prove otherwise. I mean, just look at it. Visually, this is one of the year’s best films, and hell, it might be one of the year’s best films in general.
It’s a film that, while watching it, oozes with ideas. It oozes with ambition and big dreams. You can sense inspiration in every one of its visual effects, and thankfully, this happens to be an extravaganza. This is how visual effects should be. I’ve seen mediocre visual effects this year, amazingly enough. But honestly, if this movie doesn’t receive the Academy Award nomination for visual effects, there should be a riot in the streets. The only thing that could make them better is a joint.
The actors are solid too. Cumberbatch is some kind of perfect in this role. I admit that I have never seen Sherlock, but seeing him in this film, I felt as if I had. I look forward to seeing what he has to offer next. He is also quite funny, and at times, so is Doctor Strange. This isn’t a film that tries to take itself too seriously, and hell, more power to it.
I usually like these films, but last year, it just kind of felt like I was getting tired of them. That’s the beauty of Marvel though: they have plenty of tricks up their sleeves. Just when you think they’re done, they come back with something fresh. Deadpool, Captain America: Civil War, and now this film, have shown me that there’s still plenty of life left. If only DC could get their s**t together.