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szdaily -> Movies
Doctor Strange
    2016-November-4  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

    THERE’S still some magic left in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), but as “Doctor Strange” demonstrates, familiarity can diminish the company’s onscreen magic.

    The film boasts a slightly darker and more mystical air than its peers, accentuated by some of the most arresting set pieces in the MCU productions.

    But much like Benedict Cumberbatch’s dutiful performance as the unlikely titular hero, “Doctor Strange” is a just-good-enough proposition, successfully extending a commercial brand rather than promising that even-greater creative peaks are on the horizon.

    Cumberbatch plays Stephen Strange, a brilliant, arrogant New York surgeon involved in a serious car accident that severely damages his all-important hands. Desperate for a remedy so that he can regain his livelihood, Strange travels to Nepal, where he comes in contact with The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), an ageless entity who offers to revive his hands while simultaneously awakening his consciousness to the unseen powers of the multiverse.

    Directed by Scott Derrickson (“Sinister,” “The Exorcism of Emily Rose”), “Doctor Strange” boasts a loopier tone than the typical MCU film — it’s less jokey than “Ant-Man,” but trippier and more grownup than “Thor.” In part, that’s because the film deals not only with mind-bending concepts such as parallel dimensions, time travel and mysticism, but also lightly philosophical questions about people’s purpose on Earth and how best to serve humanity.

    Still, “Doctor Strange” struggles to bring new wrinkles to what is, ultimately, yet another origin story about a flawed, exceptional man who gains powers while becoming a better person.

    The Ancient One, aided by her lieutenant Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), trains a sceptical Strange. The Doctor Strange character may have first appeared in comic books in 1963, but the movie feels derivative, even in its handling of Strange’s narrative arc as he belatedly realizes that his girlfriend, fellow doctor Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams), deserves a more loving, present man than he’s been.

    With his haughty air and crisp diction, Cumberbatch has often played intelligent, condescending men, and in “Doctor Strange” he undercuts that persona with a dry sense of humor at his character’s jarring transition from the conventional world to this fantastical realm of sorcerers and ferocious bad guys, particularly The Ancient One’s former pupil, Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen).

    But with that said, “Doctor Strange” is enlivened by inspired set pieces that capture the movie’s mystical milieu more potently than the characters do. Because the film operates in parallel dimensions, Strange faces off with villains in major world cities — except that, because the laws of physics don’t quite apply, he’ll run up and across buildings, traditional “up” and “down” twisted into a bizarre real-world M.C. Escher drawing. And when he begins to harness his magical powers, Strange can manipulate time, leading to a clever finale in which the action rewinds and restarts, lending a dreamlike tone to the proceedings.

    The movie is now being screened in Shenzhen.

    (SD-Agencies)

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