Doctor Strange: Mister Doctor American-Accented Sherlock Appears

Like the other reviews/thoughts I’ve written down about movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a good friend has challenged me to watch all of them — all 19 of them, 10 years of movies in the MCU — before watching Avengers: Infinity War in the theaters. This time, I have a deadline — Thursday, June 28, 17. I know it’ll still be in, at least, one theater around here and, after Thursday, I won’t have the time to do this, even if Infinity War is playing after that. So, deadline: Thursday.

Kaecilius: How long have you been at Kamar-Taj, Mister…

Dr. Stephen Strange: Doctor!

Kaecilius: Mr. Doctor?

Dr. Stephen Strange: It’s Strange.

Kaecilius: Maybe. Who am I to judge?

Dear V,

What a super long road this has been! And I’m not even at the destination yet! Just wait. I’ll get there.

Ok, first of all, I really do love the idea behind the character of Doctor Strange. Time and space, wibbly-wobbly stuff always makes me think about the cosmos, the universe, Einstein’s Special and General Relativity theories (yes, I am — er, was that nerd). And being in control of time and space would be an extremely powerful superpower. Like stronger than all the others out there.

I mean, what can Thor do to someone with the power to control space and time? Not a damn thing. Loki might be able to do something with his illusions, but, as time went backward, they would be revealed as illusions. Iron Man? The Hulk? Black Widow and Hawkeye? Their powers are all purely physical. Could they do anything about someone who can control the space around them or move time forward and backwards at his will?

I enjoyed the special effects of this movie, the kaleidoscope created when space was altered, a lot of it reminding me of the effects in Inception. I loved the idea of the mirror universe, but was kinda disappointed Ben didn’t lose his goatee and turn evil (Star Trek reference there). And of course, I loved the idea at the end, which I’ve hinted at above and I’ll come back to later.

And there were a few things that really bugged me. Cumberbatch’s American accent really just sucks. He needs to not try to be suave with an American accent because that’s what I think he was doing in the beginning as Dr Strange. There’s a line where Strange is in surgery and says that he can get the bullet freehanded and the only thing I could think was, “I have more faith that he can get the bullet freehanded than he can do an American accent.”

Having Strange be arrogant and egotistical didn’t surprise or both me. As a neurosurgeon, I’d imagine he’d be saving lives every day and, for some people, that can give them a god complex. Not everyone, but some people.

At some point though, I think right around the car wreck, you stop paying attention to his accent and just hear Benedict Cumberbatch’s voice.

In the car, Strange takes a phone call from Billy who’s listing cases for him. The first case is Rhodey, from the accident in Captain America: Civil War and Strange turns it down. Looking at images from another case, he wrecks his car. Massively wrecks. Wrecks to the point of totalling the car, most likely, as well as to the point that it causes you pain to know that this car was wrecked for this movie (well, I think that’s the way it works, isn’t it? Do they have stand-ins for expensive cars?)

When he wakes up, his hands are pretty much ruined. He becomes impatient with the healing process, wanting to do more and more elective experimental surgeries — surgeries that don’t help his hands stop shaking. I don’t blame him.

What do you do when what makes you you is taken away? Or at least what you think is you… Strange’s entire career was based around his surgical skill. With his hands a mess, he felt that he was nothing. The only thing he wanted was for his hands to heal and to go back to his normal everyday life — and here, I don’t blame him either. I’ve had one really bad accident. I fell off a horse, broke all the ribs on my left side, broke my right wrist, had a small amount of internal bleeding around my aorta, and my left lung had partially collapsed. Physically, my body has healed, but it still — even after four years — needs help to get back to where I was. But to lose control over a part of it? The part of it that I would need for a career? I can’t imagine that. It would be like losing my eyesight — which, having glasses, I can definitely understand the pain of that kind of loss.

So, he’s impatient, he’s trying all these experimental procedures, and he hears about a man who came to see a physical therapist with a mostly broken spinal column who learned to walk again. Strange only believes this when he sees the charts. He must have proof. He finds the guy and the guy tells him if he wants the same kind of healing, he needs to find a place called Kamar-Taj (thank you Wikipedia and IMDB, I’ll just leave you guys open, ok?).

When Strange reaches Kathmandu, Nepal, he has sold nearly everything he has, but he is not quite yet a broken man. He is not yet ready to learn. He finds Kamar-Taj and discovers that there is far more than meets the eye.

Strange has no real “belief system.” He is a scientist and continues to ask for proof. The Ancient One (the sorcerer he is talking to) explains, “Thoughts shape reality.” And then he is shown, through her powers, that reality itself is not fixed in one place. And we’re not just talking about a perception that reality is not fixed.

Here, he has to learn faith and to believe in things he cannot see while as a man of science, he continues to demand proof of what he’s being told. When he finally begins to realize that what he’s being shown (wibby-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff), when he’s shown what he wanted, they throw him back out on the street because he has to learn that the world does not revolve around him.

The Ancient One: Arrogance and fear still keep you from learning the simplest and most significant lesson of all.

Dr Strange: Which is?

The Ancient One: It’s not about you.

The Ancient One: [on magic] You cannot beat a river into submission; you have to surrender to its current, and use its power as your own.

Dr. Stephen Strange: I control it by surrendering control? That doesn’t make any sense.

The Ancient One: Not everything does. Not everything has to. Your intellect has taken you far in life, but it will take you no further. Surrender, Stephen.

This would be and is kinda a hard lesson to learn for me as well. It’s surrendering to the fact that some things you just do by feel, such as work with horses. I try to analyze and understand horses from an intellectual standpoint, but what it comes down to is that I just need to be around them more and stop trying to think my way though things and just feel.

“We never lose our demons, Mordo. We only learn to live above them.”

And they finally let him in.

shamballa is a GREAT Wi-fi password btw!

The idea is that they pull energy from other dimensions to use in theirs. That’s a cool idea. I have a book idea of my own that uses something like that in it.

This is a hard movie to really give a lot of opinion and thought on. In other hands, it could be a very deep and thoughtful movie, but as a comic book movie, we want to see some action whereas I just want to ponder on how they do what they do.

As Strange is learning and training, I love the fact that The Ancient One doesn’t go lightly on him, but then again, she’s not shown anything of the sort. You have to work for what you learn here.

I loved when Strange was learning to use the sling ring for teleportation (essentially), The Ancient One takes him to Mount Everest and leaves him there. Mordo says, “Oh no, not again.” And I kinda wonder who he’s talking about here. The comparison between Kaecilius and Strange has already been mentions — did she do the same to Kaecilius?

And, of course, the shot we’ve all been waiting for — we get to see Ben’s chest. I think the only MCU movies we haven’t seen a bare chest in have been the Iron Man trilogy and Captain America: Civil War (come on, prove me wrong).

I loved the idea of Strange using his astral form not only to take the books from the library, but to sit and read them while his physical body is asleep.

At first, I thought when Strange started to use the Eye of Agamotto, that was his relic, then he found the Cloak of Levitation.

Stan Lee has a cameo where he’s reading The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley and says it’s ‘hilarious.’

From IMDB: In Stan Lee’s cameo, he is shown reading Aldous Huxley’s book The Doors of Perception, originally written in 1954 about Huxley’s mescalin drug trip and the psychedelic world he saw (much like what viewers see in this movie).

I thought that was great.

At the beginning of the movie, a former student of The Ancient One’s named Kaecilius breaks into the library and removes several pages from an ancient book on the study of time and then poof, they vanish after a fight.

We learn that there are three different sanctums to protect the Earth against dangers from other dimensions, Hong Kong, London and New York.

Next fight is one where they meet Strange for the first time and the very first piece of dialogue I’ve included is said. This meeting doesn’t go great for Strange, and when the master of the New York Sanctum is killed, Strange takes his place. This is where he gets his Cloak of Levitation (the one that he pops the collar up on — definitely a Sherlock reference — and it starts wiping his face and he tells to stop :) ).

Kaecilius wants to take Earth to the Dark Dimension where they all will live forever as there is no time in that dimension. We also learn here that the Ancient One has been taking little bits of magic from this Dark Dimension and using it to keep herself alive.

Strange ends up sending himself (through the use of his sling ring) to the hospital where he worked to find Christine to help save him because of sever stab wounds. Christine is skeptical about where he’s been — “Sounds like a cult.” — but is willing to help him anyway. One of Kaecilius’s men follow him through astrally and we get to see some astral fighting.

During another fight, The Ancient One is mortally wounded. She says: “We don’t get to choose our time. Death is what gives life meaning. To know your days are numbered, your time is short. You’d think after all this time I’d be ready, but look at me. Stretching one moment out into a thousand just so I can watch the snow.

It is too bad that it takes some people so long to realize that they’re mortal and one day, they will die. I’ve commented in other thoughts about my 23rd birthday where I suddenly realized I was going to get older. I’ve talked here about my accident falling off a horse. But I think the more I age after 40, the more I begin to realize that one day I won’t be here anymore.

After The Ancient One dies, everyone goes to the Hong Kong sanctum where they discover it up on flames. And Strange turns back time to bring it back.

Now this — this is probably my favorite part. I like how Strange decides to deal with Dormummu. He uses the Eye of Agamotto to keep one piece of time in a time loop — and that one piece is him wanting to bargain with Dormummu. It isn’t until Dormummu (yes, I like typing that) realizes that he’ll be stuck in this time loop forever, that he decides to bargain with Strange.

First thought: if I had to bargain with an American-speaking Benedict Cumberbatch or spend eternity with him, I’d bargain too. Good thing he wasn’t British in this one. ;)

Also it is here that Strange realizes that he has to essentially be willing to sacrifice himself over and over and over again in the time loop in order to save the Earth. He realizes it’s not about him after all.

Thor’s visit with Strange was. well, strange. It appears Odin is missing — which I’m sure we’ll get to in Thor: Ragnarok.

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Kari J. Wolfe

Never-ending student in the realms of writing fiction/nonfiction and telling stories. Hopeless wannabe equestrian learning from a distance.