Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange ★★★½

Stephen Strange, a renowned but arrogant neurosurgeon, suffers a freak car accident which leaves him unable to operate. Looking desperately for a cure, any cure, he arrives at Nepal where he meets the Ancient One, a religious leader who claims that she can give him back his abilities and show him a new world.

"Doctor Strange" holds few surprises for anybody who has watched an MCU origin film. The story beats are familiar, the villains rather underwhelming, and the tone lighthearted. Yet, in this installment the ingredients are mixed in such an effective way that it becomes a significantly above average entry in the franchise. The arresting visuals are an important factor. But thankfully they never overtake the characters, especially that of Stephen Strange. He is a deeply flawed individual who has to go through many trials and tribulations to win our sympathies and become a bona fide (super)hero.
The ending of the film is also rather original since it involves the protagonist using some trickery to "defeat" the big baddie, instead of having another population center demolished.

One of MCU's biggest strengths has always been the felicitous casting choices, and this feature is no exception. Benedict Cumberbatch is perfect as the eponymous sorcerer. He has a charismatic presence that helps us identify with a hero that in many instances acts like a major jerk. Tilda Swinton and her otherworldly presence is a great match for the role of the Ancient One. Unfortunately, Ejiofor and (especially) Mikkelsen are wasted in cliched, underwritten parts.

"Doctor Strange" proves that even well-worn tropes can give us a good movie, if they are used in the right way. As far as origin stories go (or any chapter of the MCU for that matter) this is one of the best.

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