I’ll be very honest with you. I was getting tired of all the superhero/ comic books heroes movies coming out. I didn’t watch the latest Captain America and I didn’t enjoy the latest X-Men, not to mention the disappointment that was Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad. But when Doctor Strange was released yesterday and got rave reviews (it currently holds a 91% approval ratings on Rotten Tomatoes) combined with the brilliant and talented actor Benedict Cumberbatch, I was more intrigued to watch the movie.
Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) plays an egotistical neurosurgeon. A car crash renders his hands useless, thus taking away his ability to carry out delicate and precision oriented surgeries. His predicament and helplessness take him to Kathmandu, Nepal where he enlists the help of the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton). Here, Doctor Strange learns to let go of what he has learned in the world and undergoes a paradigm shift as he takes on the idea of healing through belief.
In the process, Doctor Strange gets a grasp of the power he possesses and encounters the evil ones in an alternate universe (the incredible mirror dimension!). He develops a sense of responsibility and with the help of the cloak, he sets out to defeat the evil ones. Through a series of battle fights, some soul searching and forming a camaraderie with fellow friends, Doctor Strange finally sets out to complete his mission.
Coming from Marvel Studio (they’ve changed the logo) Doctor Strange does follow a very formulaic line of path: working in a normal day job, have an accident, discover their powers, defeat the enemies and ultimately learn a lesson for themselves.
However, what sets this movie apart from the others are two things: Firstly, Benedict Cumberbatch and secondly, the special effects.
Benedict Cumberbatch effortlessly switches from a self-centered and arrogant surgeon to a humble and grounded man who has learned to put others before him. He brings a lot of charm to the character and it’s hard not to feel for him, or be a part of his journey. It’s his vulnerability that makes him relatable. He also brings in a unique aspect to the superhero typecast and is a rather refreshing change from the standard heroes- Iron Man, Thor, Hulk and so on. It’s a treat to watch him perform so wonderfully. His comic timing is incredibly funny (the Adele joke!)
The special effects were indeed a huge visual treat. In fact, they were so insanely wicked, I wanted to re-watch some of the scenes—especially the buildings folding and swerving and being split in two. Having watched it in Imax in 3D, I cannot stress how much fun it was. Right in the opening scene, when we see the first glimpse of what can happen to buildings in the alternate dimensions, I knew I would be sucked into the world of some amazing special effects. The standout scenes are the fight scene in New York and the very reversed time in Hong Kong. To say the least, I felt like I was having my mind messed up—something akin to taking drugs and getting high. Some of the moments really take you down a bizarre and weird places but it all works with its kaleidoscopic architectural moments. To say more would completely ruin the surprise element.
In many ways, Doctor Strange is a like a breath of fresh air in the world of comic book movies. There were also two important moments in the movie that stayed in my mind and thought were rather deep and meaningful for a super hero movie.
One, there is an oft-repeated theme of arrogance and ego coming in the way of achieving ones’ dreams or goal. The Ancient One refuses to teach anything to Doctor Strange because he is arrogant. It is only with time does he realise that he needs to get rid of his ego in order to get to his goal. I thought this was such a powerful moment and something many could relate to.
Secondly, in a profound moment, one of the character says the “meaning of life is death.” They go on to explain that when you know death is upon your head, you realise the value of life, thus you make it more meaningful. If you knew time was short, how would you live your life? This was such a great poignant moment in the movie that drove home a very valid point.
Doctor Strange is weird, quirky and bizarre but ultimately a very satisfying movie that breaks away from the standard Marvel series. Be prepared to have your mind numbed from all the insane, trippy moments. Do stay for the mid-credits and post credit scenes.
4.5 out 5
Genre: Superhero action
Director: Scott Derickson
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Tilda Swinton, Mad Mikkelsen, Benjamin Bratt
Synopsis: A surgeon discovers his powers after an accident, leading him to defeat the evil enemies
Running time: 115 mins
Seen at: Cinestar IMAX, Lahore
Approval Ratings: 91% Rotten Tomatoes