The Marvel Cinematic Universe expands with a dazzling, kaleidoscopic prelude set in a Nepalese monastery, where villainous Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelson) teleports into a guarded library, rips a page from an ancient tome and departs through a weird portal leading into downtown London. Meanwhile, celebrated Manhattan neurosurgeon, Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), proves he’s as narcissistic as he is gifted, his unbridled arrogance causing a horrific automobile accident that leaves his trembling hands unable to use a scalpel. Read on…
Desperate to regain his self-esteem, Dr. Strange turns to the mystic arts, seeking a spiritual miracle by making a pilgrimage to a place called Kamar-Taj in the mountains of Kathmandu, presided over by the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), a bald, ageless, certainly androgynous Celtic woman.
“You wonder what I see in your future?” she asks. “Possibility.”
Sure enough, aided by her assistants Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Wong (Benedict Wong), sardonic Strange turns out to be a quick learner, discovering how to connect with his astral body in preparation to battle evil Kaecilius and his elusive god Dormammu, who dwells in the Dark Dimension.
Created by Stan Lee and Dali-esque artist Steve Ditko, Dr. Strange first appeared in 1963 as part of the Human Torch series in “Strange Tales” Comics.
Perceptively scripted with sly quips by director Scott Derrickson (“Sinister,” “The Exorcism of Emily Rose”) and several co-writers, Strange’s origin story is a hallucinogenic trip, the fantasy/action amplified by a psychedelic CGI time-loop and spatial displacement in parallel universes.
Unfortunately, Dr. Strange’s exasperated love interest, fellow surgeon Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams), has little to do but dart around, trying to be helpful, while humor unexpectedly emanates from the mischievous Cloak of Levitation.
As with all Marvel movies, stick around for the enticing ‘after-credits’ scene.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Dr. Strange” is a spectacularly surreal 8, an awesome introduction to a fascinating Marvel character appearing as the ‘Sorcerer Supreme’ in the upcoming “Thor Ragnarok” (2017) and “The Avengers Infinity War” (2018).