By: John ‘Doc’ Strange
To a child of the 50’s who learned about comic books at the side of his brother and cousin, Doctor Strange is a film I have waited a lifetime to see. As a young man, a boy really, I followed them to stores to learn more about books that had grabbed my attention so early (perhaps 5 years old). More importantly, I attended comic conventions with them. This set me firmly on the road to my love of the art form.
Today that love has spread to include science fiction in its many formats, Comics (or “graphic novels”), books, television shows, and what we are here today to talk about, movies. Over the decades I have seen hundreds of great science fiction stories and even more that weren’t worth the time I spent watching them. One of the best of them, brand new on my list is Doctor Strange.
The story of Dr. Stephen Strange, a brilliant but egotistical neurosurgeon, was originally created by the great Steve Ditko for Marvel Comics. His first appearance, art by Steve Ditko, story written by Stan Lee, was in July, 1963 (cover date) in Strange Tales #110. Following a horrific car accident destroys his hands robbing him of the ability to perform surgery; Dr. Strange must find a new purpose for his life. Instead, he spends every penny he has searching for a cure for his hands.
This search leads him eventually to Katmandu where his life is changed in way we in the ordinary world can’t even imagine. He finds the Ancient One (played by Tilda Swinton) who leads him into the world of the mystical. She explains to Stephen that where the Avengers protect the world from physical threats, they protect it from mystical ones.
The casting of the Ancient One was a bit odd to me prior to watching the film. In the comics this character was male. However, having accepted Joel Grey as Chiun, the Master of Sinanju, in Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, this change to the story is quite acceptable. Especially as Tilda does a great job in the role.
The rest of the casting is excellent. Benedict Cumberbatch gives us a spot-on performance as the Doctor. As Stephen’s love interest, Dr. Christine Palmer, we have the always amazing Rachel McAdams. As the protectors of two of the three Sanctums designed to protect the world, we have Wong (Benedict Wong) and Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor). But the best piece of casting to me was Mads Mikkelsen as Kaecillus, a Master who aligns himself with Master of the Dark, Dormammu, to get eternal life.
The film does a good job staying close to the line that Steve and Stan drew in the storytelling sand all of those years ago. The places where they strayed were mostly small and the average watcher will not notice them. What they will notice are the mind-boggling cgi effects during the battle sequences. The action is fast paced and well choreographed. The interactions between good and evil as well and those between Doctor Strange and the Masters are extremely well scripted.
The bottom line is an amazing film worth the time and money you pay to see it. Doctor Strange is going to be a strong member of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. His chemistry with the other members is something I look forward to experiencing!
Please be aware that there are not one but TWO scenes to sit still for at the end of the film. I think one will delight you and the other will give you the desire to see the sequel when it is made.
Directed by: Scott Derrickson
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Michael Stuhlbarg, Benjamin Bratt, Scott Adkins, with Mads Mikkelsen and Tilda Swinton
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for sci-fi violence and action throughout, and an intense crash sequence)
Selig Rating: 5 Stars
Runtime: 115 Min.
Movie Site: https://www.facebook.com/DoctorStrangeOfficial/