Shades Of Words

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Marvel Studio’s Dr. Strange

If you are expecting an objective review then I recommend walking away as I am fan of Benedict Cumberbatch and am often more forgiving of his creative endeavors than others. Let me begin with acknowledging the obvious – Cumberbatch yet again embodies a hyper-intelligent, narcissistic, apathetic character. He is predictably brilliant in the movie and displays a surprising sense of comic timing. I don’t doubt his talent but I will really like to see him do something else.
Dr. Strange is an odd movie to review, immensely enjoyable but definitely distinctive from its other Marvel counterpart. The arrogant, flamboyant, neurosurgeon Dr. Stephen Strange lives the life of millionaires and have-it-alls callously stepping over the lives, dreams and hopes of others. An automobile accident leaves him severely damaged and for once in his life he finds he doesn’t pull the strings. In a desperate attempt to regain the strength of his hands, he follows the tales of mystic healing to the base of the Himalayas to Kamar-Taj in Nepal. After the usual dramedy of he-is-stupid-but-still-the-chosen-one, Strange is taken under the tutelage of the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton, who makes this silly character look effortlessly real), and very quickly learns to bend the universe to his will. In fact it appears he had probably studied longer to be a neurosurgeon than to be an astral plane traveler. Strange graduates just in time to fight the evil sorcerer Kaecillius (Mads Mikkelsen, whose considerable talents seem wasted here), who is trying to absorb the planet into the Dark Dimension where Dormammu rules. The planet is the price he is willing to pay for a life of eternity.
In realms of fantasy, Dr. Strange pushes boundaries like no other Marvel before. Imagine Inception on steroids. Strange’s first out of body experience is exactly that for the audience too. Psychedelic montages take us through freakishly bizarre journey through the universe. The time-reversal sequences alone are worth the price of the ticket.
The weak thread of the movie is story. Super hero movies need to latch on to strong moral themes to create empathy for cartoonish, ridiculously clad characters. Dr. Strange is more about one man’s personal journey. The good versus evil storyline is not clearly defined, nor the universe of the mystical magical world. The CGI effects often carry the movie away from the core story. Even the ever brooding Chiwetel Ejiofor cannot provide any gravitas to the flailing storyline.
And the movie makers get it. While immensely entertaining, this movie doesn’t imbibe the sincerity that makes superheroes films somber. It’s almost if everyone realizes how foolish this is and decides to simply have fun with it. For instance, the Cloak of Levitation while obviously a very powerful weapon for Strange to command is used for comical effects. Or the grand climax where the super-villain is defeated by getting stuck in a timeless loop. By the time, Dr. Strange stands up to Dormammu the 5th time, I was rolling in my seat. Movie climaxes are supposed to be awe-inspiring, not nerdy and silly.
It’s sad that the most interested I was in the movie was when the credits finished rolling and Chris Hemsworth’s Thor appears requesting Dr. Strange’s assistance to look for Loki. Now I want to see that movie!
At the end of it this is what I took away from the movie – Use bluetooth while driving.