“I’m Strange,” says the doctor introducing himself. That you are, comes the reply. The pun on the surname ‘Strange’ is just one of the many ways director Scott Derrickson and his writers have fun with the dialogues.
The humour is what elevates a routine sci-fi drama with a fat budget for special effects.
Pages illustrating a magic ritual for eternity have been stolen from an ancient book by evil Kaecilius. The Ancient One who’s protecting it, uses all her astral powers to stop him and that’s visual treat number one. Huge buildings turn into menacing stepping blocks as she chases him through hoops of fire conjured by her hands. But Kaecilius has learnt well from her and he escapes…with the pages.
In the benign setting of a hospital, Dr Stephen Strange is a genius with his hands and knows it too. But a car accident renders those very hands useless, devastating the snarky doctor. Hearing about the miraculous recovery of a patient he had once turned away as impossible to set right, Dr Strange’s quest for a cure leads him to Nepal.
And into a world of reprogrammed nerve cells for self-healing, astral planes and mirror dimensions. But at every turn, the one trait that’s reinforced is, surrender your ego. He goes from Dr to Mister to just Stephen. And zips from New York to London to Hong Kong and even to the space where the dark forces reside.
But The Ancient One sees in him the determination required to counter Kaecilius’ evil zealots. The quick and meditatively-focused learner in Dr Strange masters the mystical world but, says he, he’s a doctor who saves lives, not a warrior who takes them. The choice is made for him as Kaecilius strikes and Stephen with the cloak that levitates steps in the place of The Ancient One as protector against negative forces.
Getting the better of a destructive evil power and saving the world is barely an original thought, and a pretty slim one at that. But Derrickson’s crisp storytelling with his sense of humour never deserting him ensures that the plethora of special effects and mumbo-jumbo mesh into an entertaining whole. Scenes like Stephen’s astral body hovering over his physical body during surgery creeping out girlfriend Christine in the bargain, never fail to amuse.
With Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr Strange and Mads Mikkelsen as Kaecilius, Dr Strange is another entertainer from the Marvel stable. As always, do wait for the two unexpected scenes that come at the end credits of a Marvel movie.
For a film loaded with special effects and arrogance-bashing fun, Dr Strange gets a 3 star rating.