REVIEW: Marvel’s creativity continues through newest superhero ‘Doctor Strange’

Dustin Gebel

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“Doctor Strange” follows the origin story of brilliant but arrogant neurosurgeon Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch). After his hands are permanently damaged by a car accident, Strange begins his quest to find a cure for the damage.

This journey leads him to the mystical Kamar-Taj, a place of magic and mysticism. Strange is guided by The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), the current Sorcerer Supreme which is a title granted to the highest master of magic on Earth.

Strange is also taught by Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), another pupil of the Ancient One known to comic fans as the villainous Baron Mordo. Rounding out the instructors and peers of Strange is Wong, (Benedict Wong) a master of the mystic arts and guardian of Kamar-Taj’s library.

The film is unlike anything else in Marvel’s established shared universe. From extremely disorienting special effects, a memorable musical score and the introduction to the magical world, “Doctor Strange” succeeds in deviating from the marvel formula.

From the film’s opening, there is a clear shift in tone from previous Marvel movies. It almost seems as though director Scott Derrickson gives a visual thesis, promising that the actions and spells are going to be something the audience has never seen before.

The magic used by the Ancient One and Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), the film’s villain, spills out from the Kamar-Taj into the modern world which reveals just how the director plans to use special effects to create a whole other world.

The visuals don’t stop only with the sorcerer’s use of magic. Derrickson uses large innovations in computer graphics to create alternate dimensions, demonic entities and astral forms of characters. From spirits fighting one another to the dreaded being Dormammu of the Dark Dimension, Derrickson is able to create mind boggling images and situations that feel as though they were ripped straight out of a ’60s Steve Ditko comic.

There is a psychedelic trip early on in the film that serves as a pleasant way exposition. Rather than just telling Strange of magic, the Ancient One decides to show him the vastness of the multiverse and the impossible. The Ancient One not only tells Strange but the entire audience to “forget everything you think you know.” It is a fair point that throws out all of the visual conventions of the established Marvel films.

The only place that the ball drops in the film is the boring romantic subplot of Strange’s relationship with former colleague Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams). The romance feels shoehorned into the movie and suffers due to a lack of development. One reason for this is the lack of focus on McAdams’ character.

Even though “Doctor Strange” is the fourteenth film in the Marvel canon, it is still able to provide surprise and wonder to an audience, despite the romantic subplot and barebone narrative feel a little repetitive.

“Doctor Strange” is an entertaining two hours that demands to be seen in IMAX, waiting to captivate the audiences with psychedelic visual effects and a developed cast of characters.