HOLLYWOOD—Rarely, and I mean rarely would I use the word ‘masterpiece’ to describe a movie, but man was I blown away at the multiplex this weekend. I love a good comic book adaptation, but for the most part they are popcorn fun. Not many flicks from that genre make you think or wonder. When I think of genre bending only one flick comes to mind, “The Dark Knight,” but I am ready to add another to the list: “Doctor Strange.”
Yes, I am someone who has indulged in movies coming from the comic book to the big screen. However, Doctor Strange is not a character that I recall in any fashion. That might be one of the reasons this movie works so well in my opinion: not many people are aware who the superhero Doctor Strange is and where he came from. The movie opens by setting the stage for an epic battle between good and evil, as Kaecilus (Mads Mikkelsen) steals a ritual from a highly guarded text.
It’s an epic tease in my opinion, but at the same time it leads to the introduction of our protagonist Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), a neurosurgeon who is the best in the business. Stephen isn’t the nice guy; he is a bit pompous and arrogant and not the most likable character in the beginning. However, that all changes when a car accident leaves his body beat up, especially his hands which are vital to perform as a surgeon. Frustrated that his career as he knows it is over, Stephen goes on a spiritual journey to locate the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton).
I have been an avid fan of this woman and actress for years. She always and I mean always immerses herself into whatever role she tackles. I mean shaving one’s head to portray a mythical character whose backstory is shrouded in secrecy is no easy feat, but Swinton masters it. Stephen does not fully believe what he witnesses with energy realms and the ability to transport from one world to the other to be real, but in due time he begins to accept that all is not as it appears. I like to liken “Doctor Strange” to a modern day version of “The Matrix,” but with a narrative that is enthralling and with characters that are bit more developed and unique in my opinion.
The film dabbles slightly with Stephen’s relationship to his colleague Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams) whom he shared a brief relationship with. He is smitten by her to some degree, but it’s not until she is no longer in his life he realizes how important she is. There are also strong supporting roles by actors Chiwetel Ejiofor and Benedict Wong as allies who help Stephen push through to acknowledge his capabilities and the fact that the world is in extreme danger if Kaecilus manages to destroy the three sanctums and unleash Dormammu to unleash havoc on the planet.
“Doctor Strange” works for a number of reasons, notably the performance by Benedict Cumberbatch. His portrayal of this flawed hero is mesmerizing and brings the spectator into the movie that much more. The narrative requires a suspension of reality that is difficult to consider at first, but once you allow yourself to be taken on that journey it is a load of fun.
The script is smart, witty and full of one-liners, that just produces the perfect tidbits of comedy to alleviate the serious tone of the flick at times. Director Scott Derrickson does a phenomenal job behind the camera crafting what I would call a visual masterpiece. I mean I saw this movie in 2D, but I am eager to watch this movie in 3D to witness all the three-dimensional fun that the movie presents that are visually eye-popping on the big screen, I mean it is phenomenal to watch everything unfold from beginning to end.
I was so stunned by how entertained I was by watching “Doctor Strange” that I plan to see this movie a second time before the week ends. Trust me; I rarely see a movie twice, especially in the multiplex, so that is a very telling sign America.