That was the single word I was able to utter after leaving last night’s press screening of Marvel’s latest offering, Doctor Strange.
One word that perfectly encapsulates the experience that is Doctor Strange. Seriously, Marvel has topped itself once again and put together a film that is rich in everything from philosophy to VFX.
The story Dr. Stephen Strange, a brilliant neurosurgeon, who destroys his hands after wrecking his car while attempting to work and drive at high speeds in his fancy car. He wakes in the hospital to find his life irreparably changed: A man who could pluck a bullet from a man’s head with ease one day, now finds himself unable to hold a pen. A man who everyone revered for his talent and skill, but hated for his arrogance and aloofness, now finds himself only receiving pity as they look upon his broken shell. What is a man like this to do? Stripped of everything he once knew, he chases every cure he can but finds nothing. Finally Strange heads East and finds not only a way back to what he once knew but the key to power unimaginable and worlds far stranger and more beautiful than anything he had known before.
This is as much as I feel like giving away, plot wise. So here is the rundown of what you can expect while watching this film:
-The acting is top notch and tremendous. Mad Mikkelson absolutely chews up the screen as the villain. Tilda Swinton is perfect as The Ancient, an ancient androgynous magician who has spent lifetimes saving the world from terrible futures. Cumberbatch is Dr. Strange. That’s all you need to know about him. Like RDJ and Iron Man or Hemsworth and Thor, Cumberbatch IS Dr. Strange. The casting was perfect. Rounding off the cast, Chitwetel Ejlofor, Rachel McAdams and Benedict Wong are also great.
-The philosophy at the heart of the film is deep and interesting. How does one live in the shadow of death? That is the question that this film tries to answer. I think it did an excellent job, but your mileage may vary. There is, I think, a discussion that should, and could, take place about the philosophical underpinnings of the MCU and the film that really cracks this open is Strange. That is an article for a different time, or feel free to sound off on Facebook or the comments section below.
-The VFX in this film, and the ideas that they represent will blow you away. Seriously, you have never seen concepts like time and space manipulated like this. Films like The Matrix, Avatar, and Inception paved the way for this but director Scott Derrickson has managed to create a vision unlike anything I have seen before with this film.
-The movie plays like a horror movie. Yet another reason to go and see it. There is horror here, both visceral and cosmic. This is the film where the MCU introduces their multiverse, and magic, and we find out that there are things lurking outside of time and space that make Thanos look insignificant by comparison. It also brings a tremendous amount of humor to the proceedings. I read that Dan Harmon was brought in to tweak and add some material to the film, his darker brand of humor is on display here. The balance between adventure and action, horror and wonder, bleakness and humor is perfect.
So should you go and see this film? Yes. It is the best Marvel property to come to us since Guardians of the Galaxy. Like that film, it is wholly unique and original and absolutely necessary viewing. Oh, and make sure you see it in the biggest format that you can. IMAX 3D if possible.