Cast: Tilda Swinton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen
Director: Scott Derrickson
Benedict or Doctor Strange cannot get any better in his medical career, he is already at the pinnacle as one of the best neurosurgeons and yet in a fateful turn of events he is rendered helpless. He needs to find a cure, healing of his ruptured fingers, so he can hold the scalpel again, and perform another surgery, but fate had other plans. Scott Derrickson’s work is fascinating and bewildering. His treatment of the story and understanding of the space-time continuum is beyond what I have experienced, and it makes me shiver at the possibilities of what could be done with this understanding. Doctor Strange also has a lot of detail in its storytelling and iconography. We have seen representations of ancient relics and icons in many films, but this one seems to stand out, but you would have to blame him if your head starts to spin because of the strong vertigo-inducing scenes, yes they are crazy.
The quest to be healed leads Doctor Strange to Nepal, and you see about a minute of establishing scenes from the land, but beyond that it all seems to be transported back in the studios. The casting does not help much in that; it does not allow much diversity. While Chiwetel Ejiofor is a brilliant actor, this placement puts him quite out of place in the grander scheme of things. Similarly, Tilda Swinton, who is extremely gracious for the character, seems to have a very quick demise. Perhaps this is all a quick and grand scheme to set things up for a new series of films by Marvel.
Mads Mikkelsen presents us with a strange villain, one who is trying to put things in place, get the systems in order, he is actually a good guy, only that he takes his job way too seriously. It is interesting to see something contrary to the popular understanding of how villains are constructed in such stories. The difficult thing for me to swallow is, in our attempt to solve one problem we end up creating more problems, and even someone with such precision, like Doctor Strange, cannot avoid that.
A moment is a very small measure of time, but thanks to relativity, it can seem like forever and while it does not seem like a big deal, a single moment, which goes missing from time, can create massive repercussions. That is about all of the jargon I can give at this point, and the only advice I can give is to quickly refresh your reading of Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. It is not to say that the story of the film is scientifically accurate, but that a fantastical story like this would not stand a chance if it were to be constructed devoid of logic.
For instance, worm holes and time warps are pretty neatly described in the book, but you can see a visual representation of the same thing in films like these. To me it is interesting that cinema is able to communicate such wonderful ideas. If it weren’t for the Georges Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon, perhaps we would have never landed on the Moon. Who knows what will happen in the next five decades. Perhaps we would transcend the boundaries of the physical world, perhaps we would all have devices that would help us steal a moment, a slice of time and hold it close, live in it forever.
The writer is founder, Lightcube Film Society...