Shane J. Alliew
The one vital question you may ask yourself at the end of 115 minutes of Scott Derrickson’s Doctor Strange is whether one likes Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange or would you rather like him more as Sherlock (BBC Series). The verdict is split; my favourite being the dreamy and opium-addicted detective of Baker Street.
But Dr. Strange is in a different league, not because of the story it presents but because of the hugely attractive special effects (VFX) and CGI. I think that is the only high point about it all.
Dr. Stephen Strange (Cumberbatch) is a world class, arrogant (sometimes SOB) of a Neuro-surgeon and mind you one that can dislodge a bullet from the skull of a patient with bare hands. Wow! This is all good till he meets with a dreadful accident and is almost changed into a vegetable with no use of his hands. The man cannot play God any longer and it kind of makes him fly the handle even further.
Is it the disgust that he is no longer the A-class surgeon or is it that he is no longer in the limelight that he so long hogged to its full capacity? Well, I think its both. Nonetheless, he tries every medical book under the sun and just can’t be that ‘specialist’ he once was.
This till one former patient, whose treatment incidentally he had rejected years ago, catches his attention. The man had been paralysed waist down, a complete vegetable and Dr. Strange cannot believe what he see- the man is now dribbling a basket ball, scoring a net with the ease and flexibility of a teenager!
What cured him? What healed him? Well, it’s the power of a spiritual ‘cult’ in Kathmandu, Nepal and the chap send Strange off to a mystic place headed by a mystic guru called The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), bald, crafty and yet fiercely loyal, or is she?
With strong support from Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Wong (Benedict Wong), she teaches him to harness his spiritualist powers/zen and create doorways to places and time zones, apart from keeping a strong control on his pompousness and arrogance.
In the meanwhile there are greater things to deal with, like Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), a fallen angel, one of the clan, now fallen from grace, as he seeks to awaken the dark forces from beyond, who has always had the taste to envelope planet Earth as his favourite green pea!
But what secrets does The Ancient One hide in her tunic? Is she actually what we see her as, or is she something more than what meets the eye? Strange is caught up not only in this dilemma but also in the fact that he has to take some tough decisions.
Through this fiasco of travelling back and forth and fighting the band of followers of Kaecilius, Strange does discover that the laws of metaphysics and spirituality and zen are rather different from the laws of neurology that he had studied.
The Ancient One is sacrificed and amidst the distrust, questionable loyalties and newly found foes and friends alike, Strange has to make choices; very much like the ones we make in our daily lives; some good/ correct and some bad/ incorrect. At the end one must live with those choices, which for Strange also includes making pacts and negotiations with the dark forces.
What will Strange choose and to whose benefit would it be? I think you already know the answer to that for Marvel Comics would not give us a hero, dry and flat; there would be no fun in that, would there?
Fact, fiction, fantasy, drama, visual effects, et all, Doctor Strange is no stranger to these and is an exciting watch; that’s about it all. Don’t look for a story or a plot; watch it to merely enjoy the Imax experience!