Buttercup Cumbersnatch stars as the cocky neurosurgeon Dr Stephen Strange in Marvel Comic’s 14th instalment in the ever expanding MCU. The fatigue from watching the same egoistic and privileged lifestyle of Tony Stark is evident amongst the superhero movie lovers but Bumblesnuff Custardbath breathes a new lease of life to a similar narcissistic role with a steely and sharp performance, having humour sprinkled in decent dosage. Apart from Buffalo Cabbagewank, this movie has another protagonist, the incredible vision and complementing CGI used by director Scott Derrickson. Sample this. Towards the end of the movie, there is a beautifully choreographed battle between Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) and his followers and Dr Strange, Wong and Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) against the the backdrop of the city of Hong Kong reconstructing from the rubble. This and many such incredible sequences take us on an awe inspiring journey of multiple dimensions, astral forms and pure magic. This is one movie where CGI and 3D go hand in hand and are fully justified.
The Sherlock star fits into the geeky rich role effortlessly. He mastered his genius ways in Sherlock, developed his fighting skills in Star Trek Into Darkness and here, harnesses his ingenuity and acting prowess to give one of the most compact superhero performances in recent memory. Director Derrickson gives the movie a slow build up, focusing on the fragility of a man who is rendered vulnerable and weak owing to a car accident and the desperation which takes him to the remote sorcerer’s abode in Nepal. Strange finds himself under the tutelage of The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) who immediately introduces him to a myriad of dimensions and realities in one of the most visually rich sequences in the film. The casting of Tilda in the role meant for a man of eastern birth gave rise to the ever increasing controversy of “whitewashing” of characters in Hollywood. Recently the casting of Matt Damon as the lead in The Great Wall was also met with questions. To be fair to Tilda, she does a great job and her calm aura and blithe comments give her that Sorceress Supreme look. What ensures is a rapid progress in learning the magical ways for Stephen and jumping straight into the path of the evil which shrouds earth. And therein lies the most glaring loophole in the movie. The back story and desperation which leads Strange to find answers at a cult like place is given due focus, but his mastery over the magic world has been dealt with some poor editing scissors. As an audience, the transformation feels too fast, but credit to Mr Bubblepop that he looks earnest and oozes charisma once he puts the cape on.
Chiwetel Ejiofor plays second fiddle to Strange but his obsession with “order” balances out the Doctor’s carefree attitude. In fact, Chiwetel’s Mordo has a genuine conflict of ideologies with the chief antagonist Kaecilius and is justified in fighting him to death unlike the Doctor, who just seems to be at the wrong place at the wrong time and gets thrown into an inter-dimensional war for which he did not sign up initially. Oh, and did we mention that the movie has got Rachel McAdams (as Christine Palmer) in a promising but under-utilized role? Her chemistry with the Doctor shines in the initial few minutes, but she is quickly sidelined once the superhero “calling” comes to Strange. Even Mads Mikkelsen as the main antagonist isn’t given the requisite character development which will explain his siding with the Lord of the Dark Dimensions, Dormammu. There is just one scene initially where he talks of the “gift” of immortality which Dormammu presents and that is all what takes to make him swap loyalties and betray the Ancient One. Not thoroughly convincing.
Having said that, the movie is about how Stephen became Dr Strange and the grandness of this new superhero movie is unravelled in multiple mind blowing scenes. The spatial origami scenes specially feel like Inception, but on drugs and can only be fully enjoyed in a theatre. Kudos to the director for giving a fresh look to the superhero genre which has turned highly one dimensional in the recent past. Doctor Strange has immense potential of being a game changer. Magic always bewilders the audience and Marvel can take this story to greater heights. That is primarily the reason why we do not see any talk of a standalone Hawkeye or Falcon movie. Superhero fatigue is a concern and the best way to tackle it is giving us more superheroes, but with stranger character graphs and powers. Would be interesting to see how Dr Strange mingles with the rest of the Avengers considering that he looks to be a solo player.
With all its shortcomings, this is immense fun and a movie which deserves your visit to a theatre. Billycook Caterpillar is a welcome addition to the MCU and when the end credits say that Dr Strange will be back, we immediately want to know When!
gobblpoint: Derrickson has made a movie where the CGI seems to be high on some really illegal stuff and it takes the audience to highs which we rarely experience. Yes, please take popcorn along.