By Audrey Kim, Staff Reporter
“Doctor Strange” follows Marvel character Steven Strange (played by Benedict Cumberbatch), a brilliant but arrogant neurosurgeon that gets involved in a car accident that cuts off the nerves in his hands. Distraught, Strange attempts surgery after surgery to repair his hands until finally giving up. He eventually arrives at a temple in Kathmandu, Nepal, to learn spiritual techniques from the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton.) Reality and illusion are fragmented in these studies, and Strange eventually learns to let go of his previous arrogance and pride as he trains under the Ancient One. However, with the arrival of Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), one of the Ancient One’s previous disciples, and his plans to summon the powerful Dormammu of the Dark Dimension, Strange must save the world with the help his fellow disciples Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Wong (Benedict Wong.)
At first glimpse, “Dr. Strange” is eerily similar to “Iron Man.” Both Dr. Strange and Tony Stark are wealthy and famous in their fields, but arrogant and cruel to those around them. Only until a tragic event occurs do they rally into an honorable public figure and learn the meaning of sacrifice. However, “Doctor Strange,” sets itself apart from “Iron Man” with fascinating visuals and complex characters.
“Doctor Strange” doesn’t fail to disappoint as it reintroduces a stunning mix of CGI and imagination, much like films such as “The Matrix” or “Inception” did when they were released. The running battle across a fragmented London was, quite frankly, awe-inspiring. The general seriousness and absurdity of the plot line balances itself with buds of humor throughout the film, much like how “Civil War” saved itself from the typical Russo-like depression with the easy-going, comic-relief character of Spiderman.
Complex side characters also go against Marvel’s propensity with characters that are firmly in the “evil” or “good” region. The Ancient One is revealed to be committing the one thing she forbid her students from doing, and two of her closest disciples eventually turns on Strange. Easter egg hint: one of them becomes his enemy in the post-credits scene.
“Doctor Strange” is definitely not without its pitfalls. The original Tibetan character of the Ancient One turned a golden opportunity for minority Asian casting into one of a Celtic (and therefore white) one. Tilda Swinton’s casting as the Ancient One provoked accusations of white-washing, propelling Director Scott Derrickson to increase Wong’s role in the film. “Dr. Strange” also dramatically failed the Bechdel Test. With the only female characters being the Ancient One and Strange’s former girlfriend Christine Palmer, they are both directly associated with Strange and therefore fail the test.
Overall, “Doctor Strange” is a film worth seeing. A transfixing fantasy movie like this only comes once in a while, and the viewers’ imagination goes haywire in the fantastic journey to keep up with its stunning visual effects and wonderful acting.
Audrey Kim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.