“I’m Strange,” says the doctor introducing himself.
That you are, comes the reply. The pun on the surname ‘Strange’ is just one of
the many ways director Scott Derrickson and his writers have fun with the
The humour is what elevates a routine sci-fi drama
with a fat budget for special effects.
Pages illustrating a magic ritual for eternity have
been stolen from an ancient book by evil Kaecilius. The Ancient One who’s
protecting it, uses all her astral powers to stop him and that’s visual treat
number one. Huge buildings turn into menacing stepping blocks as she chases him
through hoops of fire conjured by her hands. But Kaecilius has learnt well from
her and he escapes…with the pages.
In the benign setting of a hospital, Dr Stephen
Strange is a genius with his hands and knows it too. But a car accident renders
those very hands useless, devastating the snarky doctor. Hearing about the
miraculous recovery of a patient he had once turned away as impossible to set
right, Dr Strange’s quest for a cure leads him to Nepal.
And into a world of reprogrammed nerve cells for
self-healing, astral planes and mirror dimensions. But at every turn, the one
trait that’s reinforced is, surrender your ego. He goes from Dr to Mister to
just Stephen. And zips from New York to London to Hong Kong and even to the
space where the dark forces reside.
But The Ancient One sees in him the determination
required to counter Kaecilius’ evil zealots. The quick and meditatively-focused
learner in Dr Strange masters the mystical world but, says he, he’s a doctor
who saves lives, not a warrior who takes them. The choice is made for him as
Kaecilius strikes and Stephen with the cloak that levitates steps in the place
of The Ancient One as protector against negative forces.
Getting the better of a destructive evil power and
saving the world is barely an original thought, and a pretty slim one at that.
But Derrickson’s crisp storytelling with his sense of humour never deserting
him ensures that the plethora of special effects and mumbo-jumbo mesh into an
entertaining whole. Scenes like Stephen’s astral body hovering over his
physical body during surgery creeping out girlfriend Christine in the bargain, never
fail to amuse.
With Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr Strange and Mads
Mikkelsen as Kaecilius, Dr Strange is another entertainer from the Marvel
stable. As always, do wait for the two unexpected scenes that come at the end
credits of a Marvel movie.
For a film loaded with special effects and arrogance-bashing
fun, Dr Strange gets a 3* rating.
Bharathi S Pradhan
Senior Journalist & Author