Review: ‘Doctor Strange’

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Julia Zaksek , Jr. managing editor

When Marvel first announced they were adding Doctor Strange to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I have to admit I was worried. Doctor Strange has always been one of Marvel’s strangest (I’m sorry) characters. Don’t get me wrong, Marvel has a knack for making quirky stories and characters work on the big screen; one of the main characters in “Guardians of the  Galaxy” was a talking racoon after all.

But Doctor Strange is different. He’s not Marvel’s typical brawny protagonist with an axe to grind (and an often literal one as well). He’s a reluctant hero and a selfish one at that. And while Marvel movies have embraced the idea of aliens and alternate universes in the past, there has never been a movie that dared to make them the focus.

However, that’s what makes “Doctor Strange” a surprisingly pleasing addition to the Marvel Universe.

“Doctor Strange” follows the fall from grace of once acclaimed neurosurgeon Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), a young billionaire with a perfect surgery success rate.  He reminds me of a younger and less bitter Dr. House–he refuses patients he deems “boring,” ridicules and embarasses colleagues and has a complicated and heavily sarcastic relationship with Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams), a female doctor on staff.

That all changes when a horrendous car accident leaves him with permanent nerve damage and tremors in his hands. Desperate to continue his work, he eventually travels to Nepal in search of a supposed miracle worker. However, upon his arrival, Strange learns that the reality he longs to return to is one of many. After choosing to remain in Nepal and study the mystic arts under  the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), Strange is swept into a complex and fragmented universe to defeat a dark force as ancient as the earth itself (and he still has yet to heal his hands).

While the plot was occasionally hard to follow, the psychedelic and mesmerizing special effects and Cumberbatch’s portrayal of the legendary and arrogant doctor make it a solid and enjoyable movie. It’s not Marvel greatest film. It doesn’t pack the same punch as “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” or the same laughs as “Guardians of the Galaxy,” but it is one of its most thought-provoking, and that’s a sometimes rare feat for action films. I give “Doctor Strange” an A, and I’m excited to watch his role develop in the Marvel Universe.