“Doctor Strange” Review: The Mystical Avenger

AUSTIN VAN PAY | ENTERTAINMENT COLUMNIST

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When you think about or name off the most iconic superheroes of our time, the name Doctor Strange isn’t one that typically comes up at all. After seeing this cinematic adaption, I think this might just change.

Director Scott Derrickson provides this cinematic adaptation of “Doctor Strange” that’s its own superhero tale while also imprinting itself as a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Marvel spirit is alive and well in this story, but it also does a great job of sticking to its more serious  comic book material. “Doctor Strange” comes into the light during a time where we have powerhouse heroes like Captain America and Iron Man in the spotlight, but this films provides a welcome and much more fantasy-like escape for comic book and superherofans alike.

The film’s premise involves arrogant and successful neurosurgeon Dr. Stephen Strange’s life-changing car accident that completely robs him of his most important tool, his hands. Strange almost gives up on fixing his hands after spending almost all of his wealth on multiple surgeries and therapy. When all of these traditional methods fail him, Strange turns to Eastern medicine in a place where no one would think to go, a mysterious enclave known as Kamar-Taj. After Strange makes his way to this place, he meets a woman known as The Ancient One and quickly discovers that this place may not be just a center for healing the body but also the soul. Soon after, Strange becomes engrossed in the world of mysticism, magic and dark forces bent on destroying our very reality itself.

“Doctor Strange” really comes alive thanks to the excellent work by Benedict Cumberbatch. He does a fantastic job of being arrogant, witty, confused and hilarious all at the same time. His character is reminiscent of Tony Stark (Iron Man), but what separates Strange is that he has a deeper interest in the bettering of himself. He still has an arrogant mentality, but throughout the film you really see his investment in developing himself further and attaining all of the knowledge to be successful with these new-found mystic powers. Cumberbatch had great interactions with everyone in the film, and he was a fantastic casting choice. I am looking forward to seeing him interact with the other great characters in the Marvel lineup in future films.

It’s important not to forget the other great performances in the film. Tilda Swinton is great as The Ancient One who acts as a mentor for Doctor Strange and also further develops this mystical new reality that no one could have ever imagined existed. Chiwetel Ejiofor as Baron Mordo also shines, and he acts a sort of modest opposite to the arrogant Doctor Strange. Rachel McAdams as Strange’s love interest does well enough here, but she really isn’t given all that much. The main villain Kaecilius played by Mads Mikkelsen is an interesting and menacing enough character who also happens to lend to the comedy at times, but ultimately he isn’t the end-all-be-all villain that Marvel fans have been craving.

What truly sets this film apart from anything in the Marvel cinematic universe thus far are the fantastic fantasy-like sequences and breathtaking special effects. The magic and mysticism effects are done so well, and the topsy-turvy, reality bending elements make this one of the most unique films I have seen in a while. I love how the mind-bending and reality-bending sequences were perfectly choreographed into the action and gave a unique visual feast for the eyes. I was able to see this film in 3-D; I highly recommend you see it on the largest screen possible and in 3-D  format to truly get the full effect and spectacle.

“Doctor Strange” is such a unique and reality-bending twist to the superhero genre that I loved every single minute of it. Strange’s story fits perfectly into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and I think he will be a great addition to the already amazing lineup of characters in the universe.

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