Friday, February 24, 2017

Movie with Abe: Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange
Directed by Scott Derrickson
Released November 4, 2016

Superhero films are all the rage right now, with Marvel and DC racing to release more movies each year and both airing a handful of regular TV series across multiple networks. In addition to the umpteenth incarnations of Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, and the X-Men to hit the big screen, this newfound enthusiasm has allowed for the spotlighting of lesser-known comic book characters in their own showcases. “Deadpool” was the more talked-about Marvel movie of the year, but it turns out that “Doctor Strange” makes quite an impression too.

Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is an impossibly arrogant neurosurgeon in New York City. After his reckless driving habits send his car diving off a cliff, he is dismayed to learn that he can no longer use his hands. Desperate for a way to undo the damage, Strange is inspired by the story of a paraplegic who was able to walk again and travels to Kathmandu for answers. When he meets Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), Strange learns to see the world in a whole new way filled with astral planes and other dimensions, and through his training is warned of the corruptive powers that have made Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) obsessed with eternal life.

There’s always a degree of humor to be found in comic book movies, especially with the likes of Tony Stark and Deadpool anchoring them. Strange is no different, dryly cracking jokes for the entirety of the film with few people laughing in return. His name also provides entertainment, as he responds to being called “mister” with “doctor” and then, upon adding “strange,” receives the reply, “Who am I to judge?” That fun spirit actually works well with this film’s more mystical and magic-based plot, presented in dizzying fashion as Strange is exposed to a truly wild and unfathomable world.

Cumberbatch’s profile has been rising in recent years, and after an Oscar nomination for “The Imitation Game,” it’s fun to see him anchoring this kind of movie and putting his talents to a different but equally worthwhile use. Ejiofor, Swinton, and Rachel McAdams, as a fellow doctor, provide good support for this film’s front-and-center action. An Oscar nomination for Best Visual Effects was well-earned since this film uses its backdrops and the way that people normally perceive things around them to eye-popping effect. This Marvel movie may be more fantasy than science fiction, but it’s still a hit.


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