Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange ★★★★

Right after the supernatural horror tinged opening, we are immediately thrust into the world of Dr. Stephen Strange. An arrogant genius in the medical field who is so obsessed with his own abilities that anything that isn't a challenge will be casually dismissed as below him. This eventually comes back to him when through one split second of human error by not watching the road causes him to crash his car and do serious physical damage to his body, especially his hands. That whole incident seems appropriate for a narcissist who fails to truly see the world around him. His eyes have not yet been opened. This whole section and the scenes with him looking for a cure for his hands through different mental and physical practices gives echoes of Cronenberg. That doesn't last for long though since the film has to give way to beyond the corporeal world and into the spiritual realm. The film then brings out the big guns for a psychedelic, visually rich plunge into the beyond. The effects here are mind-blowing in conception and execution. Director Scott Derrickson and his team handle this stuff with a level of showmanship that transcends every Marvel effort to date. Even if the origin story beats along in predictable fashion, it almost always leads to something I could have never imagined possible. The superior cast roster only helps elevate the stale parts with top level acting. Benedict Cumberbatch and Tilda Swinton are the highlights with their rapport being both hilarious and emotionally tragic. If I have any issues with the film, it is that some of the hand to hand combat is a bit choppy and too close up. A bit of wider framing could have gone a long way. The heady exposition can also be suffocating at times, but it also could be intellectually stimulating at others. And again, the typical Marvel beats are ever present. Still, this one gave me hope that Marvel is beginning to take their gloves off and deliver something new that we haven't seen yet from comic book movies. That in of itself allows me to call DOCTOR STRANGE a rousing success and one of the best Marvel outings to date. Groovy!

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