Marvel’s latest production Dr. Strange, starring the enigmatic Benedict Cumberbatch as the titular character has all the key clichés of any other Marvel product but it is unique in the sense that it presents the movie goers with spectacularly stunning visuals. By visuals I don’t intend to mean amazing frames but mostly visual effects created by CGI during the latter half of the film.
Being an ardent admirer of Marvel’s films for their consistent lack of creativity, I found myself nearer the wrong end after the two hours at the theatre. The story has all the clichés and glitches that are frequent to all the other Marvel films; an egoistic but talented individual, an accident, transformation to a savior, villains with cloudy motives, overuse of attempted comic dialogue exchanges etc. etc. The initial build-up to the rise of our new hero is same on the bones as of Iron Man or Spiderman but the flesh it is made to wear is different. A highly gifted neurosurgeon, Dr. Stephen Strange, gets his hands permanently damaged after a car accident making his trembling hands unfit for his profession. Unable to gulp this fact, he cuts off all his ties to go to Kamar-Taj in Kathmandu for spiritual healing. On joining the “cult”, he grasps the magical powers quickly to rise up the ladder and shine brightly. When a former rogue member threatens all life forms of the earth and kills the master, The Ancient One, Strange destroys him by his wits, courage and determination with a little help from magic and fellow comrades.
By now everyone should have the clear idea of what the new story of Dr. Strange is- old wine in an old bottle with a new label. (For Marvel Fans:The story is the wine, Marvel the bottle and Dr. Strange is the label.)But everything is not rusty about this film; a fascinating part of this production is its mind bending visual effects. The scenes of transforming and bending cities and buildings was previously used in Christopher Nolan’s Inception, but these scenes take that some notches higher by blending the magic ,science-fiction and superhero in a convincing manner to keep one in his/her seat till the end. Another thing that struck my mind is the “Dark World” that is created and shown in the film. Though cinematographer, Ben Davis, has mentioned Disney’s 1940 animated feature, Fantasia as a major inspiration, my fickle mind wandered to the thoughts of Gaspar Noé’s “psychedelic melodrama” Enter The Void, for the similarities in use of bright (probably) neon lights in both of these. Though the effects may be a little inspired nevertheless it is worth the praise.
Coming to the acting, Cumberbatch essays the role of Sherlock with a sense of humour of Tony Stark. However, he convincingly does his job and is able to bring out the charisma of the character. Oscar winner, Tilda Swinton shines as the calm yet agile, peaceful yet extreme Ancient One. Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen, Chiwetel Ejiofor also commands a good screen presence. The director, Scott Derrickson, of the horror genre, is good in presenting the magical experience with small twists and turns and elements of sudden surprise.
Overall this may be a Marvel product but is enjoyable to some extent, irrespective of whether one is a comic fan or not, because of its brilliance in visual effects, which I am sure will be nominated to the Academy Awards in the Visual Effects category and has a positive chance of laying hands on the coveted golden statuette.
Film Score: 62
Director: Scott Derrickson Screenplay: Scott Derrickson, John Spaihts, C. Robert Cargill Cinematography: Ben Davis Editing: Sabrina Plisco, Wyatt Smith Music: Michael Giacchino Production Design: Charles Wood Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch Mads Mikkelsen, Tilda Swinton, Rachel McAdams