Doctor Strange (2016)

Posted in Reviews by - November 07, 2016
Doctor Strange (2016)

Mind-bending, universe-hopping, time-traveling sorcery from Marvel, charting the origin story of wise-ass neurosurgeon Doctor Stephen Strange. He’s a mix of Doctor Who and Sherlock Holmes, conveniently played by go-to geek icon Benedict Cumberbatch who adds stage-like gravitas to an otherwise very silly movie – aided in no small part by equally laudable supporting thespians like Chiwetel Ejiofor and Tilda Swinton. Strange learns a valuable lesson in humility when his sports car crashes and his bones are destroyed. With all of western science exhausted, he journeys to Kathmandu in search of the healing mind powers of The Ancient One (Swinton) and her cult of faithful, enlightened warrior monks who spend their days learning to fight, opening portals in space and time and protecting the planet from the dangers found in alternate realities. Former disciple Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) has gone rogue with his clan of speechless ‘zealots’ and opened a window into the Dark Dimension – just go with it – giving Doctor Strange the chance to train and prove to the world he can help others and not just himself. The zealots are made up of prime UK fighting talent – the likes of Katrina Durden, Zara Phythian and Scott Adkins, who enjoys a nice extended duel with Doctor Strange. The temple and training scenes share a fascination with eastern mysticism very much in keeping with the era of the comic book, which was first released in the early 60s; the time of Fu Manchu and the west’s first tentative steps in understanding the east. Despite his sense of superiority, Strange is not superhuman – his debilitating physical form is testament to his vulnerability. It is his expansive understanding of the transcendental which affords him his powers. His accompanying gimmicks – the kung fu wizardry, glowing amulets and metaphysical cloak – should see him fit quite neatly into the wider Marvel universe. This is also one of the best Marvel films so far in terms of visual effects, with incredible city-scapes folding over like the dream sequences from Inception or an Escher drawing, and a clever climactic fight scene in which combatants duel around the destruction of Hong Kong played in reverse. And then there is Strange’s first vivid taste of the infinite multiverse, which is a mad sequence of spiraling psychedelia like something out of a Lewis Carroll book. It’s a real trip.

This post was written by
Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a laptop in London, UK.

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