‘Doctor Strange’ review: superhero dynamic changes but falls flat

Marvel’s “Doctor Strange”  tells the tale of Dr. Stephen Strange, a neurosurgeon and one of the world’s best.  The film was released Nov. 4, and brought a new dimension to superhero flicks with magic, lore and the failures and successes of humanity.  (Marvel Comics/Wikipedia Creative Commons)

“Doctor Strange,” released Nov. 4, brought a new dimension to superhero flicks with magic, lore and the failures and successes of humanity.

Marvel’s “Doctor Strange” tells the tale of Dr. Stephen Strange, a neurosurgeon and one of the world’s best. After a terrible car accident, Strange loses almost all neurological control of his hands. Faced with the possibility of never performing surgery again, and stubbornly unwilling to try any other careers or hobbies, he sets off to find a spiritual healer in Nepal to fix his hands.

In Nepal, he finds “The Ancient One,” a master sorceress who agrees to teach him the magic he needs to heal his hands. He soon finds that the group of sorcerers are training to fight the dark arts, led by Kaecilius, a sorcerer-gone-bad.

The film boasts a talented cast. Benedict Cumberbatch plays Strange, Rachel McAdams as Christine Palmer (Strange’s past lover and friend), Chiwetel Ejiofor as Karl Mordo (Strange’s mentor), Mads Mikkelsen as Kaecilius and Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One.

Casting was very successful. Mikkelsen, who played Dr. Hannibal Lecter in the hit series “Hannibal,” continues to play a terrifying antagonist. McAdams, my favorite actress, plays an emotional but submissive surgeon and foil to Strange.

Part “Harry Potter,” part “Inception” and part “Star Wars,” “Doctor Strange” adds a new kind of mysticism and science fiction to superhero films.

As of Nov. 6, “Doctor Strange” scored $325.4 million in its opening weekend according to Box Office Mojo. The movie made serious money in IMAX theatres, as the trippy, psychedelic visuals could be enjoyed more in that setting. I paid for standard viewing and I regret it.

In an article titled “‘Doctor Strange’ is Marvel’s Latest Overblown Comic-Book Car Crash,” Rex Reed of the New York Observer called the film "an awkwardly cliché-riddled mix of hamstrung imagination and bizarro reality." He went on to write: "None of it makes any sense... For characterization, dialogue, narrative arc, acceptable acting and coherence, go elsewhere."

The film was a welcome relief to usual superhero films that rely on single faceted men and women that unite for the common good. Strange has to leave his ego behind and focus on something other than himself. He, and a few other characters, learn how to be better people.

Bottom line: As a superhero movie, it was not the worst I have seen. I would have preferred watching a drama about a handicapped man who overcomes his ego and learns to appreciate his family, but that’s just me.

Rating: C+


Claire Galvin is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at claire.galvin@uconn.edu.