"This window needs to be cleaned ... But I ain't gonna be the one to do it!" Benedict Cumberbatch stars as the titular character in a scene from director Steve Derrickson's take on Marvel's "sorcerer supreme," DOCTOR STRANGE. Credit: Jay Maidment © 2016 Marvel Studios. All rights reserved. 


KEY CAST MEMBERS: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chitewel Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton, Mads Mikkelsen, Benedict Wong, Rachel MacAdams and Benjamin Bratt

WRITER(S): Jon Spaith, C. Robert Carghill and Steve Derrickson (screenplay); Stan Lee and Steve Ditko (Comic book characters on which the film is based)

DIRECTOR(S): Steve Derrickson 


HERE'S THE STORY: The first "new" character (not new if you are a fan of the comic book) in Marvel Studios Phase Three plan, Doctor Strange stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Steven Strange, a renowned neurosurgeon. Working alongside his on-again, off-again girlfriend Christine (Rachel McAdams), Strange is as skilled as he is full of himself – which is to say very. 

Then, he crashes his expensive sports car in an accident that shreds his divine tools (his hands) to pieces, leaving both his career and his life in shambles.

Desperate to save his life's work, Strange seeks out treatment from just about everyone he can think to no avail, each attempt leaving him more bitter and broken. It's only then that he happens to hear about and then seek out Johnathan Pangborn (Benjamin Bratt), a once paralyzed man who miraculously is not only no longer paralyzed, but back to playing pick-up basketball at a local park. Pangborn tells him about a mysterious place in Nepal that may be able to help him, leaving Strange to spend his last dime to travel there in search or refuge. But once he's there, Strange discovers just how strange the place he has come is compared to anything he has ever encountered before.

Meeting up with a bald woman known simply as "The Ancient One" (Tilda Swinton) and her main assistants Wong (Benedict Wong) and Mordo (Chitewel Ejiofor), Strange undergoes a major transformation that, while it does not affect his hands in the way he foresees, affects his understaning of the world and his place in it forever.

And that's a good thing, especially since Kaecillius (Mads Mikkelsen) – a.k.a. The Ancient One's former apprentice – has taken his knowledge of her teachings and plans to apply them for a very nefarious purpose ...  

WHO WILL LIKE THIS FILM THE MOST? Benedict Cumberbatch fans; people who will enjoy the Inception-like scene shape shifting; those who generally enjoy Marvel films

WHO WON'T (OR SHOULDN'T) LIKE THIS MOVIE? Those who feel the film is a bit "whitewashed" or, ironically, too ethnically diversified given the actors playing certain roles in the film that were not those ethnicities in the comic; religious people who feel the film dives too much into things like the black arts, etc.

SO, IS IT GOOD, BAD OR ABSOLUTELY AWFUL? A Marvel origin story film that actually focuses on developing its lead character well to the point you almost crave some more information about the secondary characters, Doctor Strange is another win for the premier comic book movie studio.

Cumberbatch fully throws himself into the character of Steven Strange, giving him a complete evolution, if you will, as man who goes from arrogant, self-serving should-be hero to humbled, thrust into action actual hero. While that story in and of itself is nothing new, Cumberbatch delivers a needed mix of ego, humor and disbelief along his journey, which makes his character's eventual 360 transformation believable, honest and most importantly given his character's nature, smart. His responses to his situation are completely normal, a factor which is important in making the character believable and both heroic as he does progress. While Swinton and Ejiofor deliver solid performances in their supporting roles as the guides of Strange's journey – Wong, however, is hilarious in his role – it is Cumberbatch who succeeds in channeling the story through him in a fashion that thoroughly works. This is a movie about a man's journey on the road to becoming a hero, not a good guy vs. bad guy movie and the film plays out that way. While one could argue all superhero origin stories are that way, Doctor Strange digs deep into its protagonist's life with the action sequences only existing when feeling necessary and not because he quote-unquote "kicks ass." 

While the beginning of the film may have a bit of a slower pace atypical of most Marvel films, Director Scott Derrickson deserves a good amount of credit for making the mystical world of Doctor Strange accessible for the non-comic book viewer, breaking down the things that need to be for the casual observer while leaving enough insider nods for the die hard fan. While the talk of magic, mystic arts and the like might be a bit much at first, the strength of the tale told under Derrickson's director will start to hook you before eventually delivering a satisfying cinematic experience. 

Then again, Marvel's been making movie magic with that formula now for years, so why would they stop doing it now?



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