English (U/A) ***Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen
Director: Scott Derrickson
The first impression that one would have of Doctor Strange is that it does not live up to the hype that the movie generated. This was a much awaited release for many reasons, one of which was that it is a Marvel movie, but without any of the usual characters one would expect
in a Marvel flick. Also, Benedict Cumberbatch as a superhero was such an exotic notion that one could not help but be curious about it. In those aspects, the movie does get it right.
Doctor Strange tells the story of Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), a brilliant neurosurgeon, who meets with an accident which causes irreparable damage (only as far as “western medicine” is concerned) to his nerves; a condition only he himself could have treated. The arrogance of the Strange that we meet at the beginning is such Hollywood material that his imminent fall and eventual resurrection is the stuff that cliches are made of.
The plot thickens as we see Strange break down in front of the question: how can he return to normal? Marvel finds the answer in something that has fascinated the West right from the middle ages: the exotic east, or what is better known as the Orient. Marvel finds in the Orient exactly what Europe has always found: magic and other mumbo-jumbo.
There is plenty of ‘mystical healing’; spirits, souls and “astral bodies” (which themselves get into fights and bang into vending machines); “multiverses”; “ancient ones”; the great books of knowledge of Vedic Sanskrit, written in this tale set in South Asia: things that are assumed to be stereotypically eastern. Another annoying bit is that despite much of the movie being set in Nepal and apparently drawing on traditions that have their origins there, the actors who play most characters are from Europe and America. Despite the exoticisation of all things dead and dusty, the movie moves pretty fast and Cumberbatch carries off his first superhero role with appreciable finesse. The graphics and humour are quite well done. Both the characters of Cumberbatch and Benedict Wong have a sense of humour, and their scenes together are some of the most enjoyable in the movie.