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By Miguel Iñigo L. Fermin, 13
PAREF Southridge Private School for Boys

After the box office hit Captain America: Civil War, I was eager to see whether Doctor Strange would be just as successful. It is arguably Marvel’s biggest gamble yet because the movie is an origin film featuring an under the radar superhero. Until now, of course.

I thought, if they were able to succeed with Norse gods (Thor), a talking tree (Guardians of the Galaxy) and a thief who converses with crawlers (Ant Man), then the outfit could very well weave wonders with this character as well. I was right.

Doctor Strange 1

The basic plot of the film revolves around Dr. Stephen Vincent Strange (played spectacularly by Benedict Cumberbatch) a topnotch, cocky, self-absorbed neurosurgeon who has his pick of difficult cases. While driving to a speaking engagement, he gets into a car accident that resulted in a massive hand injury. He is devastated.

Once the most sought-after doctor, he has become useless. Finding no cure in his own country, he travels to Nepal. He meets the Ancient One(Tilda Swinton)who teaches him about the astral plane, the multiverse, and how everything “is not about you.” There he learns about magic, while former allies of The Ancient One who have gone rogue are seduced by a dark evil power.

Along the way, he gains mastery of the arts and the power to defeat the enemy, while, at the same time, he has a transformation of character with the support and guidance of his love interest and colleagues. It’s a plot that’s almost the same as Iron Man, Thor, and Ant Man. It’s good that it follows the same proven formula as those origin movies. Why change a tried and tested blueprint, right?

Doctor Strange is most similar to Tony Stark, as he’s rich, highly intelligent, flawed, but he eventually finds redemption, while always having a loyal girl by his side.

The casting is perfect. Just as Robert Downey Jr. embodies Iron Man, Benedict Cumberbatch embodies Doctor Strange. For anyone who has seen the cartoon version or read the stories of the superhero magician, Cumberbatch looks like him, talks, and acts like him both in his hotshot surgeon life and his transformation of character into a sorcerer. Tilda Swinton is a great choice for the Ancient One. Although some question why the character is played by a white actress and not a Tibetan, Marvel has since defended its decision by saying that there is no racial issue involved. Rachel McAdams, as love interest, Benedict Wong, as the stiff librarian, and Chiwetel Ejio as fellow sorcerer, play their roles effectively.

The visuals and special effects are mindblowing! It’s the reason this movie stands out from other Marvel films and other films with sorcery. It’s as if they took the magic from Harry Potter, the reality altering shots from Inception, and the insanity from 2001: A Space Odyssey, and then they incorporated those things to Steve Ditko’s art (illustrator of Doctor Strange comics).

Doctor Strange 2

To heighten the viewer impact, Marvel mashed them all together with amazing stunt choreographyand brilliant camerawork and direction to make the craziest sequences. There has been nothing like it ever before from any movie. I look forward to seeing those visuals again in future Marvel installments. In addition, the dialogue is engaging and witty. It’s serious in some parts and hilarious in others, which leave moviegoers thinking and mulling.

The part I did not like so much was the bad guy. The villain Kaecilius, who is played by Mads Mikkelsen, is forgettable. Mads is an amazing actor especially when it comes to playing antagonists, but his character in the film is just plain boring. Providing strong evildoers has been a recurring problem for some Marvel films. At the same time, it’s understandable since he doesn’t play an iconic Doctor Strange foe, and in the movie, he’s essentially just a henchman.

Scott Derrickson has done a magnificent job as a director making a movie that both fits in as part of the Marvel Comic Universe (MCU) and stands out with its unique and out-of this-world visuals. Many years from now, this movie will be remembered as the masterpiece that brought the magic into MCU, opening up new possibilities for its direction now that the realm of fantasy exists in the same universe as the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy.

Go out and watch it, and if you can, do so in IMAX 3D or plain 3D to maximize the experience.

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