‘Doctor Strange’ stuns with magic, visual effects

In a world where every month seems to bring a new superhero movie, “Doctor Strange” magically rises above the usual origin story to provide amazing visuals, a quick pace and an overarching plot that will affect the entire Marvel universe.

“Doctor Strange” tells the story of Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), a renowned, successful neurosurgeon. Given accolades and awards for his successful surgical endeavors, Dr. Strange eventually loses everything when he gets into a car accident. As a result, he loses function of his hands and can no longer work as a surgeon. Millions of dollars and seven surgeries later, Dr. Strange travels to Nepal in the hopes of being healed and continuing his work as a world-renowned surgeon. Instead, he learns the mysteries of the universe and gets caught up in a magical battle for the fate of the world.

Longtime Marvel movie fans have sat through their fair share of origin stories, but “Doctor Strange” might be the best one since “Guardians of the Galaxy.” At times, it can be predictable with some clunky dialogue, but its all-star cast makes every side-comment and pun a joy to watch. Not to mention that this origin actually advances the plot of the aggregate Marvel universe.

Cumberbatch dons an American accent for this movie. His real skill as an actor shines in his facial reactions to the events around him. In a world where dimensions can be shattered and reshaped, he never loses this look of shock and eagerness to learn how these things can be done. Rachel McAdams plays Christine Palmer, Dr. Strange’s former flame and current trusted partner in the emergency room. Tilda Swinton plays the Ancient One, guiding Dr. Strange in his journey to discover more about the magical world around him. He’s also helped by Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor). Together, they try to stop Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) from summoning Dormammu, a being in the Dark Dimension who can stop time and even death itself.

The all-star cast makes the script flow, but the stunning visuals elevate “Doctor Strange” to more than the run-of-the-mill origin story. It’s definitely worth the extra $5 to watch in IMAX 3D. Even in 2D, the magic nearly pops out of the screen. Imagine “Inception” with superheroes and even more mind-bending special effects. At points, the audience let out audible gasps of awe.

Between the fast-paced script, amazing visual displays and talented cast, this origin story deviates from the usual myriad of movies. Sometimes, because superhero movies are so commonplace, they lose that sense of urgency and relatability with these all-powerful characters. “Doctor Strange” brings the audience in better than any superhero movie in the past year, humanizing Dr. Strange and even the Ancient One. While Thor may be imbued with amazing powers and Ant-Man lucked out with his super suit, Dr. Strange struggles and trains and studies to be able to fight against his enemies.

Overall, not everything in “Doctor Strange” makes sense, but as the movie itself says, “not everything has to.” Don’t miss the latest installment in Marvel’s ever-growing universe and enjoy the magical ride.

Rating: 4/5 stars


Featured image courtesy Sly Fox