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Doctor Strange (2016)

Josh Reviews Doctor Strange

In Doctor Strange, Benedict Cumberbatch plays the incredibly skilled, and incredibly arrogant, neurosurgeon Dr. Stephen Strange.  Strange is at the top of his field and he knows it.  But his privileged life falls apart after a terrible car accident leaves him unable to use his hands.  As the months go by and attempt after attempt to repair his hands using a variety of increasingly experimental medical procedures all fail, one after another, Strange grows ever-more desperate.  He eventually heads to Kathmandu, chasing a rumor of a man whose crippled legs were healed.  What he finds is a mysterious woman known as The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) who opens Strange’s eyes to an entirely different way of looking at the world.  She also draws Strange into the widening conflict between the followers of her order, who consider themselves the protectors of the world from all manner of mystical threats, and an outcast named Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelson) whose evil plans might have world-shattering repercussions.

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With Doctor Strange (as with last year’s Ant Man), Marvel has backed off of the increasing escalation of their super-hero films (best exemplified by the enormous superhero-battling-superhero epic Captain America: Civil War, a film I really loved) and gone back to what they did so well back in the early days of “Phase One” of their super-hero cinematic universe.  That is, tell a solid origin story of a new character.  Watching Doctor Strange reminded me very much of watching that first Captain America or Thor movie.  I wouldn’t hold up either of those films as the very best of what the Marvel cinematic universe has to offer.  But they are solidly entertaining films, perfectly cast, that take on the seemingly impossible task of bringing an outlandish comic-book character and world to life while making it all look incredibly easy.  Doctor Strange does all of those things.

Let’s start with the perfect casting, because once again Marvel has absolutely nailed, and I mean nailed, the casting of another of their classic heroes.  Benedict Cumberbatch was born to play Dr. Strange, and when he is finally decked out in full Dr. Strange attire at the end of the film (including that classic cape and even the Eye of Agamotto), he looks absolutely perfect.  (I cannot wait to see Cumberbatch’s Strange meet his “facial-hair brother”, Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark.)  Mr. Cumberbatch is able to nail Strange’s fierce intelligence and his hauteur, but also allow us to see his nobility and his strength.  In the comics, Dr. Strange is one of the moral pillars of the Marvel Universe, and Mr. Cumberbach takes us there by the end of the film.  (After all the hubub over how the … [continued]