You know what can be a pain in the ass, when two major companies decide to have a pissing contest. See, like many other people, when I see a movie I really enjoy in theaters, I tend to go on Amazon and pre-order it for when it comes out on Blu-Ray/DVD. So after I saw today’s movie in theaters, I went to go pre-order it but for some reason, it was not available for pre-order. After another movie I wanted to pre-order was not available, I learned that Disney (who owns the MCU movies) and Amazon were having an issue regarding their pre-order pricing so they were not available to pre-order. Well all that does is annoy customers like me but I got over it and went out to an actual store and bought today’s movie, Doctor Strange (2016).
The plot: In a temple in Kathmandu, Nepal, Master Kaecilius and his followers break into the library, kill the guard, and steal some pages from an ancient spell book. When the Ancient One shows up, Kaecilius summons a portal and he and his men escape to London but the Ancient One follows them and traps them in a mirror dimension. Kaecilius calls the Ancient One a hypocrite as his men begin fighting her but the Ancient One uses her magic to defend herself and kill the men attacking her. While she is distracted, Kaecilius uses his magic to summon another portal and he escapes with his remaining followers. In New York City, Dr. Stephen Strange, a brilliant but arrogant neurosurgeon, is finishing up a surgery when he notices Christine Palmer, a fellow doctor and his ex-girlfriend, standing outside the doors. When he goes to talk to her, she shows him the file for a gunshot victim and that the attending surgeon had declared the patient brain dead. Strange rushes to the ER and stops them from harvesting the victim’s organs, then performs surgery to remove the bullet from the man’s head, saving his life. That night, Strange is driving to a speaking engagement and talking to his friend/agent Billy about new cases to help increase his fame when he gets into a car crash and his hands are crushed in the accident. When Strange regains consciousness in the hospital, Christine tries to explain to Strange what happened but he is more focused on what happened to his hands. Strange signs up for every experimental treatment he can think of but none of them are able to heal his hands. When his physical therapists tells him of a paralyzed man named Pangborn that was able to walk again, and sends Strange the files to back up his claim. Strange goes to see Pangborn, who takes pity on Strange and sends him to Kamar-Taj. Making his way to Nepal, Strange tries to locate Kamar-Taj and after being attacked by muggers, he is rescued by Mordo, who takes him to Kamar-Taj. Inside an unassuming building, Strange meets the Ancient One, who attempts to tell strange that he will be able to heal his body by healing his spirit. Strange thinks she is a fraud but when the Ancient One forces his astral form out of his body, then sends Strange on a whirlwind tour of some other dimensions, he begs her to teach him. The Ancient One refuses and kicks Strange out of the building but he refuses to leave. Inside, Mordo questions the Ancient One’s reasons and she admits that Strange reminds her of Kaecilius but relents and allows Strange to be trained. Strange struggles with the basic spells, blaming the damage to his hands as the reason but the Ancient One shows him a sorcerer that is missing a hand who can perform the spells, then transports Strange to Mt. Everest in an attempt to force Strange to move past his hands. Strange manages to teleport back to Kamar-Taj and, with a renewed focus, begins constantly studying spells. As he checks books out of the Library, he befriends Wong, the new librarian, who warns him against trying to use some spells, particularly those from the Ancient One’s personal collection. After more training, including some combat training from Mordo, Strange heads into the library one night and grabs the book that Kaecilius stole the pages from. Reading about how to manipulate time with the Eye of Agamotto, Strange grabs the relic and uses it to show the missing pages from the book, reading about a being named Dormammu. Wong and Mordo stop him, saying he could have caused serious damage to the time and space. When Strange wants to know what is going on, Wong and Mordo take him to a chamber and explain that the Earth is protected from mystic threats by three Sanctums; one in Hong Kong, one in London, and one in New York. The Sanctums form a shield around the Earth and the sorcerers protect the Sanctums from enemies like Dromammu, an all-powerful conqueror from the Dark Dimension. Strange says he doesn’t want that responsibility, only wanting to heal his hands but before they can say anything else, an alarm is heard. Wong says the London Sanctum is under attack and the open the doorway just as the guardian is killed and Kaecilius destroys the Sanctum. The force of the blast knocks Strange into the New York Sanctum and Strange begins looking around. Suddenly, Kaecilius and two of his followers break into the Sanctum and kill it’s defender, Daniel Drumm. When Strange tells them to stop, they attack him and he manages to fend them off, sending Kaecilius’ followers to different locations in the world. Kaecilius continues to attack him and almost kills him but Strange is saved by the Cloak of Levitation, who leads Strange to a restraining device that he is able to throw onto Kaecilius. With Caecilius restrained, Strange talks to him and Kaecilius says that the Ancient One lied to him before he suddenly starts laughing, just as one of his followers stabs Strange. Strange crawls away and as the Cloak of Levitation distracts his attacker, he manages to summon a portal to his old hospital. Calling for Christine, Strange has her take him to an unused surgery room and has her work on treating his wound. When he passes out, he has his astral form appear to help Christine, which shocks her. Meanwhile, the follower sends his own astral form after Strange and the two begin fighting. When Strange flatlines, Christine uses a crash cart to revive him and Strange tells her to up the voltage and hit him again. Christine does so and Strange grabs the followers astral form and electrocutes him. After Christine stitches his wound, Strange heads back to the Sanctum, where he meets up with Mordo and the Ancient One. Strange argues with the Ancient One and accuses her of stealing power from the Dark Dimension in order to have eternal life. The Ancient One leaves and Mordo and Strange begin arguing but when Kaecilius attacks the Sanctum again, Strange and Mordo fight to defend it. Strange places them in the Mirror Dimension so that Kaecilius’ spell won’t destroy the Sanctum but Mordo warns that they will actually be stronger there. As Mordo and Strange try to escape, Kaecilius and his followers chase after them and eventually catch up to them. Strange and Mordo are saved by the Ancient One, and Mordo realizes Strange was right about her. Kaecilius manages to stab the Ancient One and Strange takes her to Christine’s hospital to try and save her. When he senses her astral form leaving her body, Strange follows after her and the two talk for a while before she dies, with the Ancient One telling him sometimes you have to break the rules for the greater good, though Mordo will not see it that way. Saying goodbye to Christine, Strange heads back to Karma-Taj and finds Mordo questioning everything that he was taught. Strange convinces him to help protect the Hong Kong Sanctum but when they get there, they find the Sanctum destroyed, the city damaged, and the Dark Dimension opening up in the sky above them. Strange uses the Eye to rewind time, saving the people, including Wong, and restoring the Sanctum. Kaecilius and his followers attempt to stop Strange and end up causing time to stop. As Mordo and Wong tell Strange to get up, and he does, then flies straight into the Dark Dimension. Summoning a ring of time energy around his wrist, Strange locates and confronts Dormammu, saying he wants to bargain with him. Dormammu quickly kills Strange but seems shocked when Strange appears again and asks to bargain. Dormammu kills Strange again but Strange reappears, saying that they are stuck in an infinite time loop and the only way they will be free is if Dromammu agrees to leave the Earth and take Kaecilius and his followers with him. After killing Strange over and over without a different result, Dormammu agrees and Strange returns to Earth. When Strange appears behind Kaecilius, everyone seems surprised but Kaecilius and his followers begins to disintegrate as they are carried off to the Dark Dimension. Strange finishes restoring the Hong Kong Sanctum and he and Wong are happy that things worked out but Mordo admonishes them for breaking the natural order of things and says he can no longer follow that path. Strange takes up the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme and places the Eye back in Kamar-Taj. Wong tells him it is a wise choice, as he shouldn’t be wearing an Infinity Stone around the streets. When Strange looks confused, Wong says he may have a gift for the mystic arts but he still has a lot to learn. In a post credit scene, Strange is seen talking to Thor, who had brought Loki with him to Earth in order to find Odin and Strange agrees to help him so that Loki will be taken back to Asgard. Meanwhile, Mordo goes to see Pangborn and attacks him, taking his magic ability away and leaving him paralyzed again, and Mordo tells him there are too many sorcerers on Earth.
Doctor Strange (2016) met with high praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 90% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that “Doctor Strange artfully balances its outer source material against the blockbuster constraints of the MCU, delivering a thoroughly entertaining superhero origin story in the bargain.” Once again, a Marvel movie had some controversy regarding a casting choice, as many people were confused or upset over Tilda Swinton being cast as the Ancient One, and while the director Scott Derrickson had his reasons for wanting to cast Swinton, he admits that it was still an act of whitewashing. The movie was a box office success, $677.6 million off of a $165 million budget.
I was very nervous about how this movie would turn out but I am glad to say that it was so much better than I could have hoped for. The acting was great, with Benedict Cumberbatch doing a fantastic job in playing Stephen Strange. Chiwetel Ejiofor (Mordo), Rachel McAdams (Christine), Benedict Wong (Wong) (on a side note, how funny is it that the actor playing Wong has the last name of Wong), and Mads Mikkelsen (Kaecilius) also did great jobs in their roles. While it was a little weird, I did think Tilda Swinton did a good job as the Ancient One. The story was pretty good, doing a good job of introducing the character and not bogging it down in too much backstory, which tends to happen in some movies *cough Spider-Man cough*. The special effects were fantastic and definitely helped this movie, giving more of a sense of magic to the MCU. A great addition to the MCU and a fun movie to watch on it’s own.
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5