Directed By: Scott Derrickson
Produced By: Kevin Feige
Screenplay By: Scott Derrickson & C. Robert Cargill
Premiered On: November 4, 2016
Distribution By: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
To be fair to those whom are, I have not, nor will I ever likely be, a fan of Doctor Strange. That’s not to say that I know nothing of his character just that those few comics I’ve read that had him in a prominent role it was, at best, a supporting one. I went into this film with only a cursory knowledge of Doctor Stephen Strange and was prepared to exit the theater either wowed or disappointed. I walked out thinking to myself first and foremost that while this was no tale of swords and sorcery, there was indeed magic to be seen and awed by.
It has been said primarily in the Thor films that what men call magic, other beings would call science when in truth they are one in the same. Can’t remember who said it precisely but there is also a rather popular theory that magic, as we know it in fiction, is simply a hereto undiscovered/inapplicable scientific method.
This film takes that route and yet, to my immense relief, does not dwell on it. In point of fact, it was surprisingly fast in delivering Strange from his disbelief into acceptance. Not too fast mind you but it was done in such a fashion that even the most diehard of skeptics would find no ground for their argument to stand on. Literally in some cases.
I cannot describe just how inspiring it was to see a film that featured magic wherein the individual who formerly did not know of, or believe in, the existence of magic readily accepts it at a speed that is believable and sensible. Most films the magic is accepted too easily and is severely limited in how it’s demonstrated.
“You’re a wizard,” might work for some people but not everyone.
Effects wise this film takes the entire bakery of cakes. The direct application of magic, such as the conjuring of “simplistic” shields and weapons, such as a war fan or a… hrm, I don’t actually know the proper name for this, a type of whip that’s incredibly short by comparison to others like that belonging to a Doctor Jones… Anyway, the more direct methods utilized appear little more than fancy, if not archaic, energy manipulations but then the rug is pulled veritably out from under your feet when we are introduced to the Mirror Dimension.
I… I cannot even begin to describe just how utterly amazing the scenes that involved this reflective world are. The sheer amount of work that was involved and the incredible amount of detail applied… It was amazing, simply amazing, but if a comparison needs to be made… The dream sequence scenes involved in the film Inception have nothing on those in Doctor Strange.
Plotwise, I shan’t spoil it beyond Strange’s origins, which is basic knowledge to even the tentative comic book nerd. Basically, Strange was a neurosurgeon of great skill and even greater renown until a dreadful accident leaves his hands damaged beyond the most basic of use and sometimes not even then.
Benedict Cumberbatch acts every bit the recovering victim and there is no detail that is missed in showing how badly damaged Strange’s hands are. Tiny tremors whenever he’s trying for specific motions, the sheer agony on his face when he attempts to punch a robber trying to steal his watch, and the near impossibility to write his own name… Double those props to the make-up department too for making some of the best scars I’ve ever seen on anyone, and that includes the likes of Deadpool.
Anyway, Strange ends up searching for the guidance, and tutelage of the Ancient One, a sorcerer who has lived for countless centuries and has served as Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme against any and all paranormal and mystical threats, including the likes of the dread entity Dormammu.
Strange’s development into attaining sorcery is not an easy journey and some of the lessons he is taught are akin to those in such tales like The Sorcerer’s Apprentice insomuch that he is… not quite forbidden to do certain things but being told that he is incapable of doing them, or should be, only drives him to prove his worth if only to himself. How he attains the Eye of Agamotto, and what he does with it, is ensnared with far too many spoilers to mention but I will say this of the Cloak of Levitation.
It’s Carpet. From Aladdin. Not in the full sentience to actually communicate on its own but it comes undeniably close. There are two moments that really sold the Cloak for me, the first being when it comes to Strange’s aid by attacking one of the big bad’s minions and does so in the most ridiculously over-the-top way that I was torn between laughing myself sick and actually being sick that the Cloak could be so violent in protecting its master.
Of course, that feeling went out the window when, following a rather heartfelt reunion between Strange and his former lover, the Cloak attempts to wipe away at his tears only to be chastised back into place by Strange.
… I never thought I’d ever actually say “Awww…” in reference to a cape before…
Lastly, yes, there are mid and post credit scenes and while I will not spoil them, I will say that they are plot relevant both to Doctor Strange himself and to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole, with a cameo that I had not actually expected to see.
Overall… I give Doctor Strange four out of five stars. It’s a great movie but it does take its time to really get to the magic but when it does, oh boy, do not blink and do not stop straining your ears because if you do you’ll either miss out on a hilarious bit of humor or a very plot relevant revelation.
Including one that leads another trail to a War that will stretch all the way to Infinity…