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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Dr. Strange (3D) | Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Chiwitel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelson, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong | Review

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Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for
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Dr. Strange (3D) | Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Chiwitel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelson, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong | Review

There’s a new doc on the Marvel block and his name is Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch).   The arrogant neurosurgeon is pure precision in the operating room, a slick know-it-all who delights in one-upmanship while avoiding affairs of the heart, as one-time love and fellow doctor Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams) has discovered.

When Strange’s hands are pulverized in an auto accident, effectively ending his brilliant career, the desperately depressed doctor hears of Jonathon Pangborn (Benjamin Bratt) whose treatment allowed him to walk again after becoming a paraplegic.  Pangborn directs him to Kamar-Taj in Nepal where he meets the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) and trains with sorcerer Mordo (Chiwitel Ejiofor) in different dimensions, gaining the shoulder-hugging Cloak of Levitation in the process.

The ultimate enemy is a huge planet-sized face named Dormammu (of the Dark Dimension) a no-good-nik who never plays nicely with others.  Of course the Earth is threatened.  But first, Strange must fight ruthless rogue sorcerer Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelson) now one of Dormammu’s disciples with an expendable group of followers of his own.   That way, there are lots of terminations before the final showdown, saving our hero and villains for the ultimate confrontation.

My flippant tone here only hints at the snarky entertainment you’ll find in the 115 minute running time.  Benedict Cumberbatch rocks a somewhat nasal American accent in portraying the good doctor who, like Cumberbatch, discovers new dimensions in which to stretch his capabilities.

I am only conveying a skeletal plot; the flesh covering it is full of details that include an ancient library, sanctums, immortality, time loops, and majestic visuals that extend a strident middle finger to gravity.  Skyscrapers roll, boulevards fold, kaleidoscopic edifices become giant gears, ready to devour combatants within their sudden, mad configurations.  3D enhances the effect, but the film can still be enjoyed without its use.

Director Scott Derrickson (Sinister, Deliver Us From Evil) bestows a dashing new cinematic hero upon the Marvel Comic Universe adapted from source material (artist/character concept, Steve Ditko; writer, Stan Lee) with a screen play by Derrickson, C. Robert Cargill (Sinister) Thomas Dean Donnelly (Sahara)Joshua Oppenheimer (The Look of Killing) and Jon Spaihts (Prometheus).

One or all of them is responsible for dialogue like this:
(Kaecilius comes face-to-face with Strange for the first time, addressing him as Mister)
Strange:  Doctor.
Kaecilius:  Dr. Mister?
Strange:  Strange.
Kaecilius: (thinking it over) Maybe.

Dr. Strange is full of that type of straight-faced humor, blending easily into the sorcery, mayhem, and time/space manipulation.  Prepare to see the newly minted superhero use annoyance as a powerful weapon.  Prepare to see Benedict Cumberbatch in a new light (as well as the motion capture model for Dormammu).

Most of all, or should I say, best of all, prepare for a franchise.

Note:  One Stan Lee sighting; two mid/post credit scenes.  With Benedict Wong, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Scott Adkins.

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