By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., Chicago Crusader
Disney and Marvel Studios came together to work some magic over a weekend in Chicago that was just as magical due to the unseasonably warm temperatures. “Doctor Strange” was poised to rake in more than $85 million on its first weekend of domestic release, and the film is worth every penny that moviegoers may have paid to sit in a theater and be mesmerized for about two hours.
The film covers much ground, as it is set in New York; we then travel to London and Hong Kong, not to mention Nepal where the famed neurosurgeon Dr. Stephen Strange must first travel in the hopes of restoring life back into his magical hands after he is seriously hurt in a tragic auto accident filled with as many special effects as are seen in the rest of the movie.
In Nepal, he meets The Ancient One, a character played by a clean head shaven Tilda Swinton. In this realm, Dr. Strange, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, is forced to “check his ego at the door” and submit to the fact that his spirit will actually will his fingers back to a productive state—allowing him to maybe not perform earth-shattering surgeries again, but to at least heal himself and his mind, so that he feels worthy again. He quickly learns that the Ancient One and her enclave, which includes Chiwetel Ejiofor as Mordo, is at the front lines of a battle against unseen dark forces—led by a character named Kaecilius played by Mads Mikkelsen—bent on destroying reality. Before long, Dr. Strange is forced to choose between his life of fortune and status or leave it all behind to defend the world as the most powerful sorcerer in existence.
But his new status as a defender of the world doesn’t come easy. He is taken through one magical sequence after another of him learning to use his mind to create the scenarios in which he needs to find himself. For example, the Ancient One “whisks” him off to the edge of a cliff up in the mountains and leaves him to his own devices to make it back to Nepal, before he freezes to death. He proves that he has been a good student when he finally is able to practice sorcery to get back to Nepal for further instruction. Let me explain here that sorcery is a form of magic that uses rituals, symbols, physical gestures, etc., to elicit supernatural forces, with many cultures believing that it has spiritual, religious and medicinal importance.
Two local residents saw “Doctor Strange” over the weekend and gave it rave reviews. “I normally don’t go to the movies any more because I wind up going to sleep on them,” said Peter Gomillion. “But Doctor Strange held my attention throughout with healthy doses of action, character development and witty dialogue. I also liked the diversity in the cast across ethnicities and genders.”
Venus Brady goes to see Marvel movies regularly to see the action, but “Doctor Strange” was different for her. “Normally I go to see Marvel movies just for the fights and mayhem, so I was impressed to see that “Doctor Strange” was more than that,” Brady said. “I actually got to thinking about spirituality while enjoying the fights and mayhem.” She talked about other aspects of the film. “It is a well-written, perfectly timed original story that sets us up for plenty of Doctor Strange to come.”
Included in the action to which Brady refers are more than just sword fights. Large buildings bend and twist in the background; characters seem to walk up the exteriors of buildings and, of course, jump across buildings into the abyss and survive. “Doctor Strange” is visually stunning and the action holds your interest—even if it is all just magic.
“Doctor Strange” is based on the comic book by Stan Lee; a storyline with which I am not much familiar. However, the movie is fantastic, with supporting cast members that include Rachel McAdams as Dr. Christine Palmer, Benedict Wong as Wong, and a brief appearance by Benjamin Bratt. “Doctor Strange” is in movie theaters everywhere.