tek's rating:

Doctor Strange (PG-13)
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Caution: spoilers.

This is the second movie in Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It came out in 2016, but I didn't see it until 2018... on the opening weekend of the seventh movie in Phase Three, "Avengers: Infinity War." (So yeah, as usual, I'm well behind.) Anyway... I'm not greatly familiar with the title character. I don't think I've read of him in any comics, though I have seen an animated movie, Doctor Strange: The Sorcerer Supreme. Which I don't remember at all, really, and wasn't terribly impressed by. But this version, on the other hand, I found pretty cool. There are a lot of really funny bits, and amazing special effects of various sorts (some of them wildly Escher-esque). And the story's pretty decent.

It begins with a group of sorcerers led by Kaecilius breaking into a secret Nepalese compound called Kamar-Taj and stealing pages from a spellbook, after killing the librarian who protected it. They are pursued by the Sorcerer Supreme, aka the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), but the bad guys get away. (It must be noted that there was some controversy over Swinton, a white woman, portraying a character who in the comics was an Asian man. And I totally agree that that's problematic. On the other hand, the character is a sorcerer who uses energy from other dimensions to perform magical feats that are otherworldly. And many cultures around the world, historically, have magic. And I've always felt that Swinton herself is not quite of this world. So... I let it slide. [Which, of course, is a symptom of my white privilege, for which I sincerely apologize.] And... there are other justifications you could read on Wikipedia, or elsewhere, including the fact that the Ancient One was just the most recent in a long line of Sorcerers Supreme, and surely there were Asian ones in the past.)

We then meet a brilliant (and arrogant) neurosurgeon named Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), and another doctor named Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams), a friend and former lover of Strange's. Together, they save the life of a patient who had already been erroneously pronounced dead. Later, Strange is driving toward a speaking engagement, when he has a car accident that leaves his hands severely injured. Because of that, he can no longer perform surgery. Western medical operations fail to help him, but he learns from his physical therapist about a man named Jonathan Pangborn, who had been cured of an incurable injury to his legs. Strange tracks down Pangborn, and from him he learns about a place called Kamar-Taj, where he'd regained the use of his legs. So Strange goes to Kathmandu, and eventually meets a man named Mordo, who takes him to Kamar-Taj, and introduces him to the Ancient One. When she explains a bit about her mystical methods, he disbelieves her. So... she proves it. And then, when he believes, she denies his request to teach him. But after a little while, she relents.

Strange is slow in his studies at first, but eventually begins learning quite rapidly. And he gets caught up in the battle against Kaecilius and his followers, who are trying to deliver the Earth to an extradimensional being called Dormammu... though they believe they're the good guys, and the Ancient One is in the wrong. Anyway... Strange eventually acquires a relic called the Cloak of Levitation (which seems to have a mind of its own; it reminded me of Carpet from Aladdin). And... Strange has to work with the Ancient One, and Mordo, and the new librarian, Wong, to protect three sanctums that protect the Earth from Dormammu. One is in Hong Kong, one in New York City, and one in London. In the end, Strange has to face Dormammu himself. And of course he's not powerful enough to defeat Dormammu, but he does come up with a clever way of creating a stalemate that forces Dormammu to accept a bargain.

Well, I've left out a lot of details. But it's a fun movie. And it includes an Infinity Stone (within a magical relic called the Eye of Agamotto). And there's a fun mid-credits scene with Strange and Thor, and a post-credits scene with Mordo and Pangborn.


comic book movies

Marvel Cinematic Universe
Phase One: Iron Man * The Incredible Hulk * Iron Man 2 * Thor * Captain America * The Avengers
Phase Two: Iron Man 3 * Thor: The Dark World * Captain America: The Winter Soldier * Guardians of the Galaxy * Avengers: Age of Ultron * Ant-Man
Phase Three: Captain America: Civil War * Doctor Strange * Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 * Spider-Man: Homecoming * Thor: Ragnarok *
Black Panther * Avengers: Infinity War * Ant-Man and the Wasp * Captain Marvel * Avengers: Endgame * Spider-Man: Far from Home
short films: Marvel One-Shots
TV: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. * Agent Carter * Inhumans * Cloak & Dagger
streaming: Daredevil * Jessica Jones * Luke Cage * Iron Fist * The Defenders * The Punisher * Runaways