Doctor Strange, with Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelson, Tilda Swinton. Directed by Scott Derrickson.
MARVEL continues its superb streak of comic book adaptations with Doctor Strange, the latest movie to tie into the rest of the Marvel universe featuring Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and the Avengers.
Pleasing fans, it remains loyal to the comic books, while also providing enough backstory to introduce newcomers to the character, known as Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme in the Marvel universe.
Dr Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a highly skilled neurosurgeon, but filled with hubris which alienates him from his peers. After a nasty road accident shatters his hands, his ability to perform surgical miracles is gone. He spends his fortune seeking a cure for his trembling hands, to no avail.
Angry and depressed, he even shuts out his sole friend, fellow doctor Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams). But has a glimmer of hope when he hears of a paraplegic, Jonathon Pangborn (Benjamin Bratt) who mysteriously was able to walk again in spite of surgeons declaring it impossible.
Strange approaches Pangborn, who tells him of Kamar-Taj in Nepal, the place where he found healing.
In the meantime, however, a battle is raging on the mystical plane as the sorcerer Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelson) and his followers enter the secret compound of Kamar-Taj and murder the librarian to steal pages from one of the forbidden books.
Strange reaches Kamar-Taj and meets the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), but is initially turned away because of his arrogance and scepticism. When he eventually is allowed to join the ranks of mystic disciples, he seems doomed to fail.
But the Ancient One sees something in Strange that she hopes will emerge in the battle to come. Strange learns of a malevolent being of immense power called Dormammu, who dwells in another dimension. It is this being that Kaecilius wishes to unleash on our universe.
Just as Strange is slowly acquiring mystical skills, Kaecilius moves further toward his goal by attacking and destroying the sanctums that are run by the Ancient One’s followers in defence of the Earth.
Considering this movie is less than two hours long, it is quite remarkable that the writer and director have been able to fill it with enough background and characterisation to give it substance while still delivering an action-packed blockbuster.
The CGI special effects are amazing, Cumberbatch is perfectly cast as the surgeon turned sorcerer, and there is a clever dose of humour amid the action that has become the trademark of Marvel movies.