“Doctor Strange” bewitches audiences

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Taken from the 1960’s comics, Marvel Studios’ “Doctor Strange,” directed by Scott Derrickson, couples mind-bending visuals with a compelling plot to create an absolutely spectacular film. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), alongside a host of strong characters, serve to bring the film to life.

When affluent neurosurgeon Stephen Strange loses control of his hands in a horrific accident, the success he’d built up over his lifetime evaporates in front of his eyes. Failed by conventional medicine, he spends his last dollars on a trip to Kathmandu in a last ditch attempt to piece together both his hands, and his old life. There, he encounters a world larger and more daunting than he could ever have imagined. Surrounded by new rules, new stakes and new problems, Strange must come to terms with his new place in the universe, all the while trying to save a world he only just came to know.

As the film’s protagonist, Benedict Cumberbatch does a fantastic job conveying Strange’s character. He develops Strange’s personality masterfully. At first Strange is an arrogant skeptic unwilling to accept what he thinks impossible; he then slowly learns his place in the world, and the duties and responsibilities he bears. The rest of the cast, as well, do a solid job depicting their roles. Every character is multi-faceted. The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) is an aged but empathetic sage. Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) is a cruel but genuinely deluded villain.

But for all their depth, little reason is given for their personalities. Aside from Strange, most of the cast is lacking in back story. At a glance, they seem a bit fractured; they change their minds every couple minutes, and they reveal new sides of their personalities with every interaction.

However, Marvel Studios spared no expense on the film’s effects; they are fantastic. Between mesmerizing dips into other worlds and reality-bending fights, the movie is like an MC Escher piece. It’s stunning. The effects don’t detract from the film in the slightest. Every fight scene makes full use of the warped environment by flipping gravity, conjuring platforms and playing with the world like clay. The effects really convey the magical aspect of the film, empowering the characters, letting them stretch and twist the world around them.

However, the film does fall a bit short in the story-telling department. While the movie is a solid chain of exciting events, there’s never a break or a rest. New events and developments come one after another; there’s never time to process or relax.

More irritatingly, in many of the most memorable moments, the film decides to throw in a quick gag, killing the mood. The movie tries too hard to be cheeky; there are few genuinely imposing moments that aren’t followed immediately by comedic relief. For a plot which operates on the scale of multiverses, with characters casually warping reality, the humor comes across as forced.

Despite the sometimes annoying comedy, the plot is riveting. The characters are thoroughly developed, their interactions are entertaining and human, and the story doesn’t go too overboard with the “saving the world” trope.

“Doctor Strange” is a must-see film; it’s effects, characters, and acting are phenomenal. 

4/5