Doctor Strange has a generally decent quality – as expected from Marvel movies. I enjoyed the experience mostly for its comparison of certain themes; time, human nature, the question of evil against good, and the public good versus the private sphere.
Synopsis: Cumberbatch is a doctor – DOCTOR Strange (he refuses to be called anything else – ‘Not Mister, DOCTOR Strange’). He loses the use of his hands in a car accident and any attempt to heal them is futile. Strange travels to the east in search of treatment and ends up in a monastery. He initially gets thrown out by the Ancient One because of his rigid scientific views and disrespect for the Mystical Arts. Later, she brings him back and he becomes not just a bright student, but ends up discovering more than he should – for a novice to the arts as he is. Eventually, Strange helps in the battle to protect the three Sanctums which shield the world against other forces and clashes with Kaecilius, one of the Ancient One’s former students.
Time is relative: The movie puts time as something controllable by terrestrial and extra-terrestrial beings, introducing ideas of time reversal, distinct hierarchical dimensions of time with links to space, reflection and the past. The idea of time is manipulated so much in the movie that chances are you will be hard pressed to find time to understand what is being thrown at you.
The past certainly comes back to haunt the present as characters deal with issues of their past. This compels them to seek a higher power which elevates them into a different dimension, allowing them to control who they are. A reflective goodbye speech by the Ancient One succinctly captures a human nature that lives life each day at a mad pace, without thinking to pause and consider its beauty.
The line between good and evil is blurred.
Everyone has a story: Doctor Strange differs from your ‘Avengers’ movie because the characters are not merely one dimensional – even for minor characters. They may claim to seek the good of the world, to protect the sanctums, but they all seek immortality above all else. The line between good and evil is blurred. It allows the viewers to relate with the struggles characters face in attempting to decide how to use their powers.
How far would you go to fulfill your greatest wishes?
Strange’s despair brought by his handicap raises the question then of how far would one go to fulfill his/her greatest wishes. This is especially captured in his treatment of his work as his life. Most people visit the Ancient One for healing and some become detractors like Kaecilius. Like Strange, he looks for the Ancient One in hope that he would reunite with the wife and the child he lost. He grows disillusioned with the Ancient One’s secrecy, and breaks away to find a path to transcend all the dimensions and gain even more power.
Then there’s Mordo, who is set up as the villain. He upholds the Laws of Nature and acts according to how he thinks the cosmos is supposed to run. He frowns on Strange’s time bending acts, even if it is clearly for the greater good. It’s also surprising that he shows depth and empathy both in educating Strange in the laws of magic as well as caring for civilians. Not much about Mordo is mentioned in this film in my opinion, but I await with bated breath for the development of this character in the next movie!
All in all, Doctor Strange is a classic Marvel blend of comedy and action. Not only did Strange’s commentary and Christine’s confusion crack me up, the intense battles and well-computerised graphics did well to keep me entertained. The detail accorded to characterisation was a plus – the fact that Strange could only open portals when he was relaxed and humble was symbolic in emphasising the character’s journey of personal growth.
Also, you’ll want to stay for the after-credit scenes. After all, it’s what Marvel does best.
Photo Credits: (in order of images)
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