“Doctor Strange” introduced into the Marvel universe

Doctor Strange, a 2016 American superhero film featuring a Marvel Comics character of the same name. The highly anticipated film is produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. It is film number 14 in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), and is directed by Scott Derrickson (Sinister and Sinister 2).

The film stars Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock Holmes; The Hobbit trilogy), Chiwetel Ejiofor (The Martian; 12 Years a Slave), Rachel McAdams (The Notebook; Spotlight) and Oscar winning actress Tilda Swinton (The Chronicles of Narnia; The Grand Budapest Hotel).

In the film Stephen Strange (Cumberbatch) is a well renowned neurosurgeon who loses the use of his hands due to severe nerve damage from a horrific car accident.  His fellow surgeon and former lover Christine Palmer (McAdams) tries to help him move on in life without neurosurgery, but Strange, still believing he can regain use of his hands, uses all of his resources and fortune pursuing experimental surgeries and treatments – all in vain.

He travels to Kamar-Taj in search of the Ancient One (Swinton), a sorcerer who has lived for an unknown amount of time with an infinite amount of power. He meets a master of the mystic arts named Mordo (Ejiofor) who is the Ancient One’s assistant and Wong, the guardian of the ancient books in the library.

Strange’s power grow and the three men pursue Kaecilius, one of the Ancient One’s former pupils, who has stolen pages from an ancient book of spells in order to raise a dark power named Dormammu bent on world domination. The plot thickens from there.

One of the things that we can count on Marvel to deliver is a story that is interesting and cinematically beautiful. In terms of narrative structure and theme, fans of the MCU will note a similarity to the flagship film Iron Man (2008), with the title character’s lavish lifestyle and lack of humility that leads to a tragic downfall, with the after effects instilling a sense of purpose beyond his own worldview. He then slowly comes to realize the consequences of his attitude, leading to his rise as a more heroic figure by the end.

The mystical, spiritual, aesthetically monk-esque aspects of the film (emphasizing strength of spirit and synchronization of the body and mind) are reminiscent of another renown comic book film, Batman Begins (2005), which in turn was stated to have itself been based on the actual comic this film was based upon, with the derivation having come full circle.

The movie had a constant underlying humor to it, with several one liners and some comic undertones present in even more serious moments, but it did not push the viewers to laugh out loud or make it obvious that those moments were to elicit humor.

The visual effects were mesmerizing, imaginative and extremely interesting to look at, while the exotic and remarkably structured locations range from Nepal to Hong Kong to New York, with each feeling just a relevant and captivating as the last. Being such a visually complex film, the 3D animation was beautiful to see and worth the extra charge to see it with glasses.

Overall the movie was, as a whole, well put together. It could be tad bit slow at times, with scenes dragging on a bit, seeming to fill time for the sake of doing filling time before it moved onto the next plot development. The action and comedy bits infused throughout the film made its 1 hour and 55 minutes more than tolerable.

There are plenty of easter eggs in this film as well as the anticipated cameo from the beloved Stan Lee. The movie has a semi-solid plotline and the acting is above average, but as with all Marvel Comic movies, I feel the tie in with all the other Marvel films was long and excessively drawn out, as though the film did not consider itself a film in it’s own right, but rather, another chapter in the overall collaborative universe.

Although it could have been shorter or more condensed and gotten to the points faster, I myself will eagerly wait for the next installment to tie Dr. Strange into the Marvel Universe forever.