Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is one of the most talented, and arrogant, neurosurgeons around. He prides himself on not only his abilities, but also his bleeding edge techniques. When an accident robs him of his most valuable assets, his hands, he stops at nothing to restore his control of them. When Western medicine falls short, he journeys to Kathmandu, seeking alternative treatments.
Dr. Strange finds himself studying under the tutelage of a woman known only as The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton). She tells Dr. Strange that by expanding his mind, he can cause his body to find new ways to heal itself. The Ancient One and Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), her right hand man, guide Dr. Strange in their mystic ways. He learns quickly, moving through their lessons at an amazing speed.
Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), a former student under The Ancient One, has chosen a path of his own. Rebelling against The Ancient One and her group of wizards, Kaecilius has grand plans. Stealing a spell from a book in the library, he intends to take Earth to the Dark Dimension, where time does not exist, granting him eternal life.
Dr. Strange, still learning to master his new-found abilities, must work with The Ancient One, Mordo, and the other wizards to stop Kaecilius and his rogues before it is too late.
Marvel, still working to build their ever-expanding roster of superheroes enlists another of the lesser known member of the Avengers. By including Doctor Strange, they also bring an entirely new superpower into the fold, magic.
Aside from introducing the concept of mysticism, Doctor Strange also brings with it a completely different tone and feel than we have come to expect from Marvel films. While Benedict Cumberbatch lends his Cumberbatchian charm and wit, it feels darker than anything else they have given us. It almost doesn’t seem like it will fit in with the rest of the films when they all join forces.
Alongside Cumberbatch are some pretty formidable talents. Tilda Swinton, complete with shaved head, does rather well as The Ancient One. Not only is she wise and powerful, being responsible for keeping Earth safe means she can kick some ass. Chiwetel Ejiofor holds his own in the superhero world. Although, a shift in his character near the end feels a bit sloppy and underdeveloped. Mads Mikkelsen gives just the right amount of creepiness to his villain.
Visually speaking, Doctor Strange is an absolute masterpiece. It is unlike just about everything you have seen before. I would say almost 75% of the credits are devoted to digital artists and special effects. This is no surprise, given the amount of work that went into making this film work as well as it does. It will be surprising if the team is not nominated for any awards. (Although, I don’t think there is a stage large enough to hold the entire crew.) That said, you really need to see the film in 3D to fully appreciate just how amazing this film looks.
Doctor Strange doesn’t get near the top of the list of my favorite Marvel heroes or movies. It’s not quite what I expected and seems a bit disjointed from the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it is a good enough film. The trippy, mind-blowing visuals make it worth seeing. Fans of the comic book character will most likely love the film. For the rest of us, it just serves to tide us over until Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 hits next year.
Make sure you stick around through the credits for both of the end credit scenes.