Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Rachel McAdams,
Chiwetel Eijofor, Mads Mikkelsen, Benedict Wong.
Direction: Scott Derrickson
Production: Marvel Studios
Visually distinctive and classily cast, this latest
cinematic foray from the Marvel Studios, is a comic-book movie that fully justifies
its reliance on CGI effects. The superior hero-origin story somehow nods to the
spatial origami of Christopher Nolan’s ‘Inception’. But crucially, Doctor Strange, has an
exclusive entity of its own: a handsome, endlessly fascinating conundrum of
complexity. It crackles with energy, moving from one plot point to the next,
not wasting any moment. There’s a sharp wit to the screenplay, which credits
the audience to catch the punchline to a joke that was set up an hour prior.
But Derrickson’s biggest achievement is incorporating so
much cosmic guff into the story – astral planes, third eyes and mandalas abound
– without ever seeming inapt or doltish.
In the first seven minutes of the movie, the buildings gnarl
and twist like segments of a Rubik’s Cube. Gravity flips and shifts with each
camera angle, smashing down various characters like a maniacal rolling pin. The
basic physics concept we’re used to no longer seem to work. It’s like watching
reality tear apart.
The incredible casting is responsible for much of the
success of this sci-fi movie.
As Dr. Stephen Strange, the genius neurosurgeon whose career
is wrecked by a devastating car accident, Benedict Cumberbatch is as steely and
sharp as the surgical implements at his operation theatre. In his first
appearance, we are reminded of the privileged swagger of Tony Stark (Iron Man),
but none of his warmth. Cumberbatch makes the least immediately likable of the
Marvel heroes into the most unpredictable and intriguing. Strange’s despair
over his ruined hands takes him to Nepal and to the secretive enclave,
‘Kamar-Taj’ headed by a guru known only as the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton).
On the contrary, Rachel McAdams plays Christine Palmer, the
doctor’s love interest. She has a warm, flirtatious aura. But she isn’t a
person so much as a convenient prop forgotten about for long stretches until
Strange needs her.
One of odd aspects of Doctor Strange is how quickly Strange
masters magic. While he struggles briefly at first to keep up with other
students, he’s soon stealing sacred books out from under Wong (Benedict Wong)
the sharp-eyed librarian who protects the texts at The Ancient One’s behest.
As per the villain, Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) is a former
pupil of The Ancient One. Strange’s battle with him ultimately comes down to
being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The juxtaposition between them is
rather ill-thought and haphazard. Even with these considerable faults Doctor
Strange can also be charming. It’s a spry film brimming with great details,
striking imagery and twists.
It pushes the audience into a fascinating world full of
magic and villains that exists beyond our understanding of time and reality. We
are left trapped into the infinite loop of time!
Camellia Paul, ex-Gokhale Memorial Girls’ School