by Alan Yudman
We can get a bit numb to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Stan Lee’s company is everywhere. Films, TV Show, Netflix series. These movies based on comics or graphic novels are everywhere and there seems to be no end. Every 6 months or so we are introduced to a new character or story involving familiar ones. There are crossovers and nods and easter eggs. It is getting a little mind numbing. The fall season debut this year is DOCTOR STRANGE. So it was with some sort of cautious optimism I went to see the newest character in the MCU.
I really had nothing to worry about. As I have said before, the problem of introducing a known character to millions who have no clue who he is while not boring the core fans can be a daunting one. Some movies dive too deep into the origin story and lose the action or the character being who he really is. Scott Derrickson did a fine job of giving us the back story without wallowing in it too much.
Benedict Cumberbatch is Dr. Stephen Strange, a brilliant and egomaniacal neurosurgeon whose hands are irreparably damaged in a car accident. He goes to Nepal to find a miracle cure and instead he finds a secret society that uses magic to ward of those who would take over earth from other realms (see Thor for what that is about). He also finds he has to learn to think of others and the greater world around him for the first time. Instead of doing things for his own personal glory, he has to consider actions effect on others.
The story is compelling and well told. The acting elevates this pretty wrote material to another level. Cumberbatch, Chewitel Ejiorfor, Tilda Swinton, Benedict Wong, Mads Mikkelson and Rachel McAdams are each wonderful in their own way. Michael Giacchino’s score fits the wizard/sorcerer theme perfectly.
But the real star here is the visuals. Because these people are magicians they are able to bend reality and the physical world to their own ends. The most striking example is the way Mikkelson and Swinton are able to fold reality and move buildings around with the wave of the hand. The effects are absolutely wonderful. We have seen plenty of these movies where cities are destroyed, blown apart and rendered disaster areas. Instead these heroes and villains work in a different dimension and defy laws of the physical world we know. That allows the effects department to do just about anything and it’s ok. When they return to our reality, nothing has changed or moved. All is normal. I loved it and the vision to not just blow shit apart.
It wouldn’t be a Marvel movie without a mid-credits and/or post credits scene. So stick around to the very end for a couple of treats.
If you are exhausted from all the Marvel and DC movies, check out DOCTOR STRANGE. It will renew your enthusiasm for the genre.