Mind-blowing special effects. Not only are they fantastic, they aren’t just for battle scenes. Mainly they are there to convey to the audience what an out of the body experience would be like or an alternate universe or a closed time loop. In other words, this movie tries to do the impossible and succeeds fairly well.
The out-of-body experience happens when Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) sneers at the whole idea. One really shouldn’t do that to The Ancient One and she shows him and the audience that there’s more to reality than he could imagine. He’s willing to learn after that because he’s desperate. He had been a top surgeon but an accident damaged the nerves in his hands. He’s willing to try anything for a cure and so he ends up in Tibet, talking to The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton.) She reluctantly takes him on as a student.
Now the plot gets underway. There’s a supersorcerer villain, Kaecitus(Mads Mikkelson), who has stolen some magic secrets and is out to conquer the universe. The Ancient One is struggling to stop him. She’s aided by the Librarian Wong (Benedict Wong) and Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofer). Both are powerful wizards and after a few months, so is Strange.
This kind of movie demands suspension of disbelief and mine snapped. I can accept out of body experiences, other dimensions, multiple universes, stopping time and all the rest in the movie, but not that Strange could become an adept in a few months. I do realize that is a necessity for the plot.
The plot gets very complicated with a magic levitation cape, portals and time loops. The special effects continue to be mind blowing. The struggle against Kaecitus gets really complicated when we learn that he is working for the supervillain of the universe, Dormannu of the Dark Dimension.
Dr. Strange is the fourteenth movie in the Marvel Universe. It was first started to be developed in 1980 but that didn’t work out. Finally, in 2014, Derrickson became director, Jon Spaihts totally rewrote the script and Benedict Cumberbatch was chosen to play Strange. Tilda Swinton became The Ancient One because the director felt the original character was a racist stereotype. The same was true of the character of Wong who in the comics was just a servant but now is a major sorcerer. The most complex person is Mordo. Chiwetel Ejiofer is a great actor and he conveys the changes Mordo is undergoing. He begins as a faithful follower but becomes increasingly disillusioned so by the end, you’re not sure what role he’ll play in the sequel. Will he be a good guy or a bad guy?
At the end of the movie, it’s important to sit through the entire credits for there are two additional brief scenes. The first comes early in the credits and brings in Thor so we know the sequel will involve him. Then, at the very end, there’s a scene involving Mordo that is suggestive of the direction the sequel will go.
I should add that the acting is superb by all.
Reviewed by: Marian Powell