• Doctor Strange (2016)

What happens when you put together a mercenary character, a tough master, time manipulation, a lot of sorcery and mystic secrets of the worlds that exist somewhere further than human conscience? All these things are tightly packed into two hours of Doctor Strange – a new black horse from the Marvel stable, this new flick delights you with much more than you would expect from your usual superhero. If we can talk about usual superheroes, that is.

Doctor Strange Review - Benedict Cumberbatch

Doctor Stephen Strange is one of the best in his league. However, the neurosurgeon with spotless records of saved lives has to take a career break when his most valuable asset is destroyed – his hands get injured in a car accident. Unable to agree with the life that seems to be his new reality, he looks for a treatment that would bring him back into the life he thrived in. As traditional medicine is unable to help, he reluctantly but desperately takes a trip to Nepal and asks for help in Kamar-Taj. There, he meets The Ancient One – a guru for many of those who believed in the power of their minds. Sceptical at the beginning, he uses the traits that have made him an excellent doctor – determination and photographic memory – to pursue the study of the powers that allegedly lie within his own conscience. Soon enough, the talented student is faced with a task that terrifies him from the very beginning.

A cinematic trip with or without your (Diet) Coke

First and foremost, if you’re looking to have a trip on popcorn and (Diet) Coke, make sure you pack your 3D glasses and watch the film on the biggest screen possible. The abundance of wonderful special effects can be appreciated fully if you decide to watch it in its full glory – and this film, with its trippy intricacies and kaleidoscopic twists and turns, is one of these that are definitely worth watching in 3D. Buildings folding like card houses, fire and lighting combined with martial arts, or out-of-body experiences are just a tiny piece of the CGI-led appeal of the movie. The sequences filled with mind-blowing elements growing out of the screen look like they were specifically designed for that particular projection type, and 3D is not just an add-on in the times where every other film is often pointlessly made into a three-dimensional display. You won’t ever look at London the same way again after you watch this film – will it fold like pieces of paper when you cross the road, or will it not?

About an arrogant character gone heroic and one kick-ass woman

Cinematography set aside, the audience is also given some outstanding performances. Benedict Cumberbatch nails the character transformation; he is convincing as a blunt, overconfident surgeon and the guy who realises that his need to save lives can be channelled onto something different than medicine. Unlikable and arrogant at the beginning, Strange cruelly refuses to be helped by his co-worker and love interest Christine and learns a lesson in humility when he tries to forget everything that he has ever known and trust in magical powers – and Cumberbatch’s acting skills are something to marvel at throughout. Another great performance is Tilda Swinton’s: The Ancient One is that kick-ass woman whose presence is needed in every film. She speaks in wise quotes and fights like a boss, excelling in both more emotional scenes and in action-packed moments. Her impeccable status as a master of the witchcraft that justifies her coldness and distance from those who aren’t enlightened enough just yet transforms into a set of human challenges of a leader whose headship mandate has been questioned. It’s just a pity that Rachel McAdams has been given a role of a little powerless and bland character – and even if she does her best to make the character distinguishable, it is still a love interest part, and just that; it’s hard to say if there was a space for anyone to make it more alluring.

Mister Doctor, ain’t it Strange

The entire team has also nailed the little comedy bits. In the rest of Marvel films, humour provides the balance between pathos that could have been brought into the picture when we’re dealing with the stories of those who seem to be more than an average Joe and normal, totally human, personalities. Here, it also serves as a water cooler between the almighty power sequences and philosophy-filled contemplations. Thanks to a few chuckles woven into the film, we don’t feel overwhelmed with the morals and spiritual quotes that fly in and out the dialogue almost all the time. Remember the Wi-Fi password scene from the trailer? There is a bunch of quick comebacks and witty conversations like these throughout the film. And maybe this is also why the philosophical frame that was built as a foundation to the magical world that protects the humanity from non-physical dangers also feels easier to digest, and accessible for many more people. Although not everything is explained, it doesn’t need to be – the viewers are taken on board straight away, and we know just enough to understand the film and cling onto the atmosphere of the mystic mysteries that are bigger than us.

Doctor Strange is one of the films that open your imagination and let you travel through the unbelievable landscapes, one of these movies that make you feel that anything is possible. With its transcendental vibe, mind-blowing special effects and a right dose of humour, Dr. Stephen Strange walks into the Marvel Cinematic Universe in style – and it’s a real, human character that we are introduced to that is so engaging.  It’s like any mythology that describes a pantheon of gods – don’t we like them more if they’re more like us?

Kasia Kwasniewska

Editor in Chief

Loves reading, watching films, eyeing (and producing) good design, listening to music and stuffing her face with chocolate whenever the opportunity arises. Cooks from time to time, and drinks far too much coffee to be a normal human being. Liked my work? Buy me a coffee!

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