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Doctor Strange (2016)

A brilliant neurosurgeon–Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch)–is at the top of his field. He has a perfect record of saving those he operates on, and the life he leads is nothing short of spectacular, but he has one glaring flaw that everyone around him sees, he’s a pompous, arrogant asshole. His hubris has him searching for the next thing that will put his name in the spotlight, and, as a result, he finds himself in a precarious situation, no longer able to perform his job, and his life is turned upside down. When he realizes that standard science will not be able to make him better he turns to an unsuspecting individual known only as The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) to change his fate and get his life back on track. As Strange journeys through the mystical arts, Doctor Strange is born and the newest Avenger finds his way in the world.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), Inception, and The Craft collide in this strange, pun intended, film that clashes with what viewers have come to love about Marvel’s uber successful film franchise. Viewers find themselves thrown into a film that incorporates some of what they’ve come to love from Kevin Feige and the MCU and Christopher Nolan’s Inception, as well as the odd cult classic The Craft, in a way that shouldn’t make sense, but does. Director Scott Derrickson is tasked with developing one of the most twisted films the world has seen to date. Nothing is as it seems, the world is often thrown upside down, and the story, in simplest terms, makes no sense. This mindf**k of a superhero film, from beginning to end, is immensely entertaining, but superiorly confusing, making for a mess of a journey that entertains in ways that viewers could have never expected.

The MCU progressively made their films bigger and better than before, finding new ways to intrigue viewers, but Doctor Strange is something entirely different. The MCU dials things back with the installment, Doctor Strange, as it involves fewer characters, less intriguing names, and a story that, on the surface, pales in comparison to the others told over the course of the past eight years. Viewers, at this point, expected the films in the MCU to be extravagant, but there is something about this film that allows the MCU to temporarily plateau, but in a way that is impeccably entertaining.

Doctor Strange is odd in so many ways, but what resonates with viewers more than anything is the immensely strong acting and the message that Derrickson, and writers Jon Spaihts and C. Robert Cargill, is able to convey. First off, the titular Doctor Strange, played by the incredibly talented Cumberbatch, is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the talented cast. Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor (Mordo), Rachel McAdams (Dr. Christine Palmer), and everyone in between portray their characters with great aplomb and never relent as their characters fill the screen again and again, inviting viewers into this twisted story and refusing to let them go. While everyone deserves praise, the unsung hero of the twisted Doctor Strange is Benedict Wong’s Wong. He’s comical, emotional, and incredibly relatable. As he listens to Beyoncé viewers come to understand that he is what allows Doctor Strange to be so successful. His inclusion in the film, thanks to now world-renowned Sarah Finn, is one of the best decisions made when considering casting, even when the world knows how beautifully literally everyone fits into their roles.

The message, that of perseverance, is stronger, and more powerful than the MCU has conveyed to its viewers in the past. This message, along with the exquisite acting, brings Doctor Strange to life better than most had expected. Cumberbatch promises something spectacular for the future of the MCU and fans of the franchise are given additional hope for what is to come. While Doctor Strange is certainly not the best film by any means, the narcissistic, pompous Strange provides a presence that the world had been missing. There hadn’t been anything this twisted in the MCU, and Doctor Strange finds its niche, bringing to life a brilliant story and a character that will entice viewers for years.

Directed by Scott Derrickson.

Written by Jon Spaihts, Scott Derrickson, C. Robert Cargill, Stan Lee, & Steve Ditko.

Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Mads Mikkelson, Tilda Swinton, Michael Stuhlbarg, Benjamin Bratt, Scott Adkins, etc.




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