Sunday, March 5, 2017

Doctor Strange: more than just another superhero movie

Doctor Strange is the newest film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Dr. Stephan Strange (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) is a neurosurgeon in a New York hospital. A neurosurgeon who is so arrogant and cocky that he dances while performing surgery. One night, while driving on a winding road, he is in a terrible accident. He receives extensive injuries, especially to his precious hands. His hands now shake uncontrollably and he tries everything medically possible. However, he’s not progressing as fast as he wants. So he seeks out Kamar-Taj, an organization which helped heal a paralyzed man to walk again. There he learns to how to use his mind to heal his boy from the Ancient One (played by Tilda Swinton). Along with Master Baron Mordo (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor), Doctor Strange is pulled in to a mystic war against Kaecilius (played by Mads Mikkelsen). Kaecilius wants to bring darkest to the earth through summoning Dormammu, a being from the Dark Dimension.

Along with a great story and awesome visional effects, the reason I love Doctor Strange is Benedict Cumberbatch as the title character. He is so good at playing highly intelligent and extremely arrogant characters. Anyone who has seen him as Sherlock Holmes knows what I’m talking about. I also like that Cumberbatch brings a vulnerability to the character not just when he is grasping at straws and Kamar-Taj is his last hope but also when he is the last defense against Kaecilius and Dormannu, he lacks confidence. It isn’t until the Ancient One, essentially, gives him the confidence to figure out a plan to rid the world of Dormammu. Cumberbatch also resembles the comic Doctor Strange so much it seems he was born to play this role. The comic Doctor Strange, designed by Steve Ditko and Stan Lee, was modeled after famous horror actor, Vincent Price.

Some of my favorite lines in the film is spoken by the Ancient One. She and Baron Mordo are discussing Strange and Mordo mentioned that she helped him defeat his demons. To which she replies, “We never lose our demons, we only learn to live above them.” I love this quote. Anyone who knows addiction or mental disorders or a host of other demons, knows that they don’t really disappear from our lives. People learns to make them insignificant and live in ways to keep them from returning. Sometimes they never take power again in our lives and sometimes they do because they are never fully defeated. In another scene, she is trying to get through to Strange, who isn’t progressing, again, like he wants. She says “Arrogance and fear are keeping you from learning the simplest and most significant lesson of all.” When Strange asks “which is?” she replies, “It’s not about you.” How many people in the world today have a hard time learning this lesson? How many people still focus on themselves instead of the world around them? One last line that I love is when Strange comments that magic doesn’t make sense, the Ancient One replies, “Not everything does. Not everything has to.” I love this line because we live in a world where people want an explanation. They want a reason. They want to know why. Sometimes there isn’t an explanation. There isn’t a reason. The answer to why is something beyond our comprehension and understanding. We may never know why something happens, maybe we will know after death when we see things beyond our earthly perspective.

As I always to do with my movie reviews, I will discuss a few of the criticisms about the movie. First, many critics made comments that Doctor Strange was a reboot of Iron Man (2008) where the hero discovers a greater calling which changes his life. HELLO?!?!? Anyone familiar with the Hero’s journey knows this is true in all hero stories with few variations. Second, many critics compared the visual effects to a bad acid trip. Considering I’ve never been on acid, let alone a bad acid trip, I feel this comment is so clique is not even funny. Sometimes I feel when the critic really can’t find anything wrong with the movie but feel they must find something, they resort to the visual effects as a bad acid trip. Lastly, many critics, especially comic book fans, were upset that the movie story doesn’t copy the comic book origin story. I answer this with none of the MCU movies copy the comic books exactly that’s why it’s called the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This is their version of the stories based on the comic books with a few variations. It is from my understanding of the Doctor Strange story, that the movie does follow his origin story pretty close. The variation is the Ancient One is played by a woman and who is supposedly Celtic instead of a man and Tibetan.

Overall, I loved this movie. I loved Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange. I loved Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One. I love the strong lessons about life and our place in this word. They are there, you just need to pay attention. I look forward to seeing Doctor Strange in the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok (November 3, 2017), Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and other possible Doctor Strange sequels which have yet to be announced. If you have been a fan of the MCU so far, you’ll enjoy Doctor Strange