Doctor Strange (2016)

“Forget everything you think you know.”

This advice to Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is just the advisory notice that potential audience members need before viewing the latest offering from Marvel Studios.  Enter with an open mind, and exit with a new perspective on the superhero film.

The plot:  Marvel polishes its winning formula once again under Scott Derrickson’s direction.  Strange is an arrogant, condescending neurosurgeon who mixes Tony Stark’s ego with Peter Quill’s wisecracks and Loki’s insults.  He regularly dismisses colleagues and quickly becomes insulted if someone questions his genius.  Basically, he’s the American version of Sherlock.  This similarity is made all the more striking by yet another phenomenal performance from Cumberbatch.

So naturally, the narcissistic Strange is due for a reality check.  After a car accident renders his hands useless, the doctor heads to Nepal for healing, and winds up learning how to manipulate the mystical realms from The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton, A Bigger Splash).  On his path to becoming the Sorcerer Supreme, he bonds with the librarian Wong (Benedict Wong) and fellow magician Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor, Z for Zachariah).  Together, they must defeat Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), a rogue sorcerer with a plan to destroy the world.  But first, Strange has to accept his new reality.

In typical Marvel fashion, everything is executed brilliantly.  The actors all deliver quality performances, including Rachel McAdams (Midnight in Paris) as Strange’s fed-up love interest.  The script, as one expects, is full of serious science-y stuff, but it also manages to lighten the mood with plenty of humorous quips.  And the visuals are truly out of this world.  They blend the psychedelic feel of the 1970s comics with the mind-bending worlds of Inception, with stunning magical effects thrown in for good measure.

The pacing is set beautifully to a riveting score by Michael Giacchino (Star Trek Beyond).  It has strings and piano in the time-bending, trippy sequences and during particularly heroic moments, notes from the Avengers theme creep in.

Doctor Strange is a thrilling ride with action, humor, and heart that appeal to a wide audience.

3 Green

Doctor Strange is in theaters now.

Author Bio:  Claire Ebbitt is an admirer of Harry Potter, British actors, 10 Things I Hate About You, and Shakespeare.

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