If you’re a fan of Christopher Nolan’s Inception, superheroes, acid flashbacks, or all three then go see Dr. Strange. This is not your average Marvel origin story. Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Sinister) takes us on a psychedelic trip into the kaleidoscopic abstraction of the multi-verse.
While we still have the arrogant, egotistical protagonist suddenly and not-so-unexpectedly thrust into circumstances of extreme loss forced to seek help in questionable places, Derrickson makes us care with his graphic depictions of Strange’s injuries and subsequent corrective surgeries. Furthermore, the doctor’s descent to desperation is emphasized by his brutal alienation of his love interest, Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams). His cruel dismissal of her unconditional support truly show a man hopelessly consumed by loss and frustration. All that to say, Dr. Stephen Strange is not your average superhero. Benedict Cumberbatch masterfully portrays a complex, dynamic protagonist, ascending to his highest points and spiraling to his lowest, giving the audience an appreciation for Dr. Strange as a fallible human and as a hero figure.
The plot of the film is equally dynamic. It’s not the most unique, nor the most inventive arch to ever have graced the big screen, but it is intelligent and it is interesting. The antagonist is unique in that the source of Strange’s power is linked to the darkness he must battle. The primary conflict does seem a bit Avengers-esque (interdimensional beings coming to destroy/take over planet Earth) but the plot is resolved almost humorously through a loophole in the antagonist’s logic. Personally, I don’t think the resolution matches the tone of the rest of the film but I ultimately appreciate it because, for once, a superhero takes the smartest course of action instead of defeating the enemy through a well-placed nuke, a narrow escape, or an ultra-stylized fight sequence.
Overall, Dr. Strange is cool as shit. Scott Derrickson combines insane visuals, well-developed characters, and a compelling plot to bring us a truly unique hero story. I have a feeling that Dr. Stephen Strange stands to become a seriously pivotal character within the Marvel Universe as the search for the Infinity Stones reaches critical mass.
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