Film Reviews

DOCTOR STRANGE

By • Nov 3rd, 2016 •

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Doctor Strange rules the Marvel Universe. A fully realized character with dimensions. Bravo to the thousands who created the astonishing visuals.

More intelligent than any other superhero currently in the milieu, DOCTOR STRANGE is a complete misnomer to the other characters in either the DC or Marvel stable. DOCTOR STRANGE is awash with popular mystical teachings and the newest theories in parallel universes and multiverses.

In this context, I highly recommend Max Tegmark’s Our Mathematical Universe, My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality.

For the unfamiliar with this Marvel superhero, here is the requisite origin story of Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch).

If you were dazzled by the buildings falling into themselves in INCEPTION, the special effects team has taken that digital device and multiplied it by a thousand.

It is brilliant and dazzling. And the team also out-did the iconic “To Jupiter” from 2001. These two visual pieces are now at the apex of the technology and alone are worth seeing DOCTOR STRANGE.

Then there is Cumberbatch, who reigns now as the Marvel hero that leaves the others as dainty costumers.

Cumberbatch is in great company with Tilda Swinton and Mads Mikkelsen. I see everything Swinton and Mikkelsen are in and hunt Netflix for their films not shown at my local theaters. Why Hannibal was dropped by NBC is still a mystery. Was it too damn erotic? Why wasn’t it picked up by Starz?  Nevertheless, the last episode was phenomenal.

Doctor Strange is your typical, self-anointed God-like neurosurgeon. He’s also well-paid and lives the life of an aristocrat. He flaunts his extensive knowledge of popular music while performing dangerous brain surgery. Doctor Strange does not have time to review the file or even look at the scans before plunging right in.

Driving too fast in his Lamborghini and speeding around curves he loses his extraordinary concentration and dives off a cliff. After waking up after surgery, he finds that a colleague he has recently embarrassed in the operating room by re-doing his operation, has “fixed” his shattered hands. He will never perform surgery again.

Doctor Strange bitches he should have performed the surgery himself. And, there must be a method to fix his hands. So after spending all his money and selling off his collection of expensive watches, including a Vacheron Constatin Tour de I’lle and his exquisite penthouse apartment, he does what everyone does when medical science falls, he sought out faith healers and yogis. He gets a tip that there is a healer who restored a man (Benjamin Bratt) from complete paralysis. He goes to Nepal and is approached by Mordor (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who takes him to see The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton).

The Ancient One knows all about Doctor Strange and after he rebuffs her New Age speech about charkas and healing oneself by using one’s mind, she zips him into the multiverse. He doesn’t float into Frank Poole or checks in to see how Dave Bowman’s health is. He goes way beyond Jupiter into the Multiverse.

When The Ancient One brings him back, he says hell yes, I’ll take the Red Pill.

While the sin that corrupted God’s favorite angel was pride (and it happens to be the signifier for Dr. Strange), one of The Ancient One’s most accomplished student, Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) has left the fold and embraced the Dark Side. There is a spell in a book belonging to The Ancient One that no one is allowed to read. The Ancient One has lived for centuries and Kaecilius and his crew want immortality. It’s only fair, right?

Doctor Strange, no doubt a connoisseur of elegant finery, looks great in the costume of reality-shifting students. And when Dr. Strange arrives at his full potential, he’s wearing a levitating red cape and a glowing green medallion.

“People like us who believe in physics know that the distinction between the past, the present and the future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.” Albert Einstein

In the world of Doctor Strange, time, which measures the past, the present and the future is malleable. And this is what places DOCTOR STRANGE, a comic book creation, alongside INCEPTION and THE MATRIX for visual invocation.

There are two “Easter eggs.” And they are worth staying for. Especially, in this case, you see the vast number of skillful people who made the movie possible.

Directed by Scott Derrickson and written by Jon Spaihts, Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill, the mastery of DOCTOR STRANGE belongs to cinematographer Ben Davis and the enormous contributors that made up the Visual Effects team.

I have spent too much time trying to dope out the screenwriters for DOCTOR STRANGE. After Spaihts’ name appears first on imdb.com, Google searches has Cargill as the main writer and spokesperson, I decided to include the often unreliable Wikipedia post on the subject: “Derrickson and Marvel had originally discussed him writing the film alongside his SINISTER co-writer C. Robert Cargill, with Derrickson also directing, but Marvel felt that they would not be able to reach their intended release date of July 2016 if Derrickson filled both roles. When Derrickson was chosen as director, Marvel passed on Cargill as an individual writer, with Jon Spaihts hired to rewrite the script instead.”

Regardless of screenwriting credit, the writers have given Cumberbatch a fully realized character with flaws, a brief girlfriend and a wry sense of humor. He approaches the role of Doctor Strange as if he was a Shakespearean character.

His semi-girlfriend (they had sex but not a relationship), Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams), is either a surgeon (Marvel Cinematic Universe Wiki) or a surgical assistant (Cinema Blend). Regardless, McAdams’ Christine Palmer is a harried employee in the thankless girlfriend role in unbecoming “scrubs” and running around confused. Unless the carrot stick of her character emerging as the Night Nurse was dangled in front of her, McAdams was wasted here

Member of Las Vegas Film Critics Society: www.lvfcs.org/.

Victoria Alexander lives in Las Vegas, Nevada and answers every email at victoria.alexander.lv@gmail.com.

 

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