'Doctor Strange' Is A Marvelous Journey Into The Otherworldly
By Devvon Eubanks
Enlightenment. The final level of human consciousness and the peak of human reasoning and thinking. Some cultures and religions focus on this concept as the main goal of human life. Because of the difficulty of achieving such a level in the melding of mind, body, and spirit, a person can spend their entire lifetime in study or pursuit of it. However, once achieved, it is possible that the limits of the human mind can no longer hold a person back; therefore, the individual has access to more abilities, such as levitation and possibly even telepathy. Now, these are just conceptual ideas, but what if there is more to us than meets the eye? What if we as humans have yet to discover the potential of our own powers and abilities? One Marvel Comics superhero film challenges these ideas and shows what makes humans undeniably peculiar and just absolutely…strange.
Directed by Scott Derrickson, “Doctor Strange” is the 14th film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and is based on the comic of the same name created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. The MCU's latest offering follows acclaimed neurosurgeon Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), who is an exceptionally gifted man, able to save patients from the gravest of injuries and situations with a steady eye and amazing dexterity. One night while driving to an event, Strange gets into a horrible car accident and is rushed to a hospital and operated on. While he does survive the ordeal, Strange loses the ability to fully control his hands, and is no longer able to perform his craft. Spiraling into a depression and desperate to get his hands restored, Strange soon learns of a place called “Kamar-Taj” in Kathmandu that might be able to help him. However, upon arriving there Strange gets more than he bargained for, meeting a powerful sorceress known as the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) and getting a harsh lesson about the nature of the mystic arts and alternate dimensions. Overwhelmed and in utter disbelief by what he experiences, Strange begs the Ancient One to teach him so he can understand more about himself and the world around him.
Upon first glance, one of the key strengths of the film is the outstanding special effects and computer graphics. The action is electrifying, vibrant, and stunning due to the use of light, sparks, sigils, ground quakes, reality distortion, and many more onscreen effects. The special effects crew alone should be commended for their work, as everything they have done helps enhance the character of Doctor Strange and shape the movie's environment. Secondly, the plot is quite good, especially when it shows how Stephen grew to become the legendary sorcerer of Marvel Comics. The story portrays a man who is an egotistical, arrogant know-it-all until he encounters extreme loss to become something greater, complete with a newfound purpose and faith. Finally, the overall presentation of the film is in line with other Marvel brands. There is a ton of high-quality action surrounding an interesting hero who discovers his own abilities while facing an evil force. Its narrative moves seamlessly with few slow periods, some amusing instances of humor, and little details for the ever-watchful Marvel fan.
The character development is pretty good, too, but it leaves a bit to be desired. Since the movie is called “Doctor Strange,” Benedict Cumberbatch is naturally the central figure, and he does an outstanding job. Some critics were skeptical of the young actor playing a seasoned Marvel hero and being able to pull off his persona, but all fears can be allayed as Cumberbatch gives an entertaining take on Strange’s personality and mannerisms. The cast is also rounded out with Swinton as the Ancient One, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Strange’s partner, Baron Mordo, and Mads Mikkelsen of “Casino Royale” as the main villain, Kaecilius. Now, while Swinton and Mikkelsen fulfill a lot in their roles as characters who give Cumberbatch the most development, Ejiofor is extremely underutilized and one-dimensional as Baron Mordo. He doesn’t get a lot of care, and he just seems to be there just for Cumberbatch to have an onscreen partner. Even his fighting scenes are pretty basic and dull compared to the rest of the cast. However, even with this issue the film is an overall success for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
With outstanding special effects, a faithful representation of Stephen Strange by Benedict Cumberbatch, and excellent messages of overcoming obstacles and accessing our individual untapped potential, Marvel’s “Doctor Strange” is an awesome addition to the lineup of countless superhero films that have been released this year. While some characters could have used more development and some fight scenes get a bit stale near the end, not much prevents it from becoming anything less than extraordinary. Marvel fans will certainly be pleased and it will keep new viewers and seasoned moviegoers engaged and satisfied.