FLASH!: ‘Marvel’ous Doctor Strange

In a place called Kamar-Taj in Kathmandu, Nepal, the villainous Kaecilius and his henchpeople steal a ritual from a book belonging to The Ancient One and disappear after murdering the librarian. The event shakes up the mystic arts cult.

In faraway New York, highly acclaimed (and exceedingly arrogant) neurosurgeon Doctor (not Mister, mind you!) Stephen Strange meets with a horrific accident. He spends his wealth in numerous experimental procedures, none of which are successful. He loses the support of his former lover Christine Palmer when he refuses to move on and mocks her. He is directed to Kamar-Taj by a paraplegic who claims to have been treated there. Though rejected at first because of his arrogance, the Ancient One ultimately relents and takes him under her wing.

Let me be frank here: I’m not a Marvel fan (DC for life!). It’s just that the films aren’t as cool as the DC ones are (save MoS and BvS). And Captain America is irritating. Like really. And Tony has also started to get on my nerves. This film however, steps away from the madness and hamminess of the Avengers.

Director Scott Derrickson does a good job. Unlike many other superhero movie directors, he doesn’t get carried away. He shows great restrain (especially in the Strange-Palmer scenes), while still allowing the characters to flourish. The screenplay, written by Derrickson, Jon Spaihts, and Robert Cargill, also deserves a lot of credit. Written in a somewhat Inception-like fashion, it also has a lot of Coenesque wit and humour which, unlike other Marvel films, doesn’t go overboard. It also has a fresh superhero story to tell, unlike so many other films of the genre. Ben Davis’ cinematography is truly delightful, making the film what it is: enchanting. Luma Pictures and Industrial Light & Magic pull off a challenging series of visual effects (aided by Charles Wood’s marvellous production design), visually enhancing the film. Michael Giacchino’s beautiful music adds a mysterious element to the film.

Tilda Swinton portrays the Ancient One with boldness and conviction, surpassing her White Witch act from Narnia. Rachel McAdams brings normalcy and a bit of softness to the film with her performance of Christine Palmer. Benedict Wong pulls off Wong without allowing any Western stereotypes about Asians to interfere with his performance. Thankfully, the director didn’t seem to want such stereotypes. Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Mordo is an interesting performance, especially towards the end of the film. Ejiofor plays the character in his usual understated manner, making an impact all the same. Mads Mikkelsen, that master of villainy, is powerful as Kaecilius, and has some of the best lines in the film. If there were an Oscar for Best Villain, this film would’ve given Mikkelsen his second of those. Benedict Cumberbatch brings in a lot of his Sherlock-ish characteristics, while still letting the character seem original. He is in top form throughout the film, transforming into Strange and making you believe that he is the character. Cumberbatch is a genius of an actor.

All in all, a film I thoroughly enjoyed. Watch it for everything it has to offer and you will not be disappointed one bit.

Doctor Strange: 4/5

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Image: Internet Movie Database (IMDb)

Varun Bhakay’s Writer’s Block (2016)

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