DR. STRANGE — Review by Susan Granger

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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).

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.