They put the warnings after the spells

Doctor Strange

Again, Marvel continues to expand their universe.  Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, Smaug and the Necromancer in the Hobbit trilogy, Khan in Into the Darkness, Richard III in Hollow Crown, as well as appearing in War Horse and Amazing Grace) leads the big name cast as the titular Dr. Stephen Strange.  Rachel McAdams (famous for The Notebook, Mean Girls [how did those two come out in the same year?], and Irene Adler in Guy Ritche’s Sherlock Holmes [which gave birth to a meme that’s only expanded]) is Dr. Christine Palmer, Chiwetel Ejiofor (the Operative from the Firefly movie, Serenity) is Mordo, while Mads Mikkelsen (he’s Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts, and Galen Erso in Rogue One.  He’s also Rochefort in 2011’s Three Musketeers and Le Chiffre in Casino Royale; needless to say, he’s experienced playing villains) is Kaecilius.  Tilda Swinton (a bit of a different role from portraying the White Witch in the Chronicles of Narnia films) is the Ancient One [and if you’re like me, and wondering why Pangborn is familiar looking, he’s Eric Matthews in Miss Congeniality.]

The film opens with Kaecilius beheading the librarian in order to rip pages from a book in order to do a dangerous ritual.  Change of scenery to a city and Kaecilius is confronted by someone in yellow robes with their hood up.  He shouts hypocrite while the world gets topsy-turvy.  The woman in yellow showcases her skill and Kaecilius and his followers run away. 

Another change in scenery and we meet a doctor as he preps for the operating room.  He’s a bit of a show off, but does help another doctor in a second operation when she asks.  We find out that Christine Palmer used to date Stephen Strange, but they chose different paths; her in the ER and he wants to advance new techniques.  Or show off and get credit; “everything is about you,” Christine remarks.  Stephen invites her to a ceremony, which is an award for him, but she declines.  We see that Stephen has done well for himself with the selection of watches and the fast car he has.  But as he’s checking out a new case (and turning down Rhodey’s spinal case we find out), his car crashes, glass shatters into his hands.  Christine is one of the doctors who rushes alongside him back into the hospital.  She’s the one to inform Stephen of the bad news; due to how long it took to get him into a hospital (most likely because it took time to discover he was missing and find him), there is severe nerve damage in his hands.  She encourages him to allows his body to heal, but he bites back “you’ve ruined me.”  So begins Stephen’s journey to get his hands back.  He asks different doctors for help, suggests experimental treatments.  But nothing brings them back to the way they were.  Christine tries to help him, but he pushes her away, being very rude to her one evening, saying that they hadn’t even made a good couple and tells her to leave.  So she does.

He eventually finds another patient who had had a supposedly hopeless case, but ended up walking again.  When he tracks down this Pangborn, he’s sent to Karma-Taj, which apparently resides in Nepal, because Stephen travels to Kathmandu.  He’s rescued from some thugs by Mordo, then taken before the Ancient One [and I do appreciate that the Ancient One is portrayed as a woman simply from the aspect that a woman is the head of this…religion I believe one could classify].  She is aware of who Stephen Strange is and explains that they are able to convince the body to put itself back together, by reorienting the spirit to heal the body (I don’t quite get the mix of medical and philosophical).  Stephen is disbelieving, so the Ancient One demonstrates by sending Stephen’s soul through different dimensions (and it gets a bit weird here).  He asks to be taught.  Mordo tosses him out.  But Stephen persists; sitting at the door, until the Ancient One lets him in based on his stubbornness, arrogance, and ambition, though she fears leading another gifted student who may ultimately betray her (like Kaecilius).

The Ancient One teaches Stephen that the language of the mystic arts is as old as civilization; they called it spells, but they actually harness energy from the multiverse [setting up the storylines after Endgame that we are not getting into because they are too confusing and I just didn’t have the energy after Endgame to continue with the crazy storylines.]  This energy they use to create shields and weapons.  It requires study and practice, which Stephen should be used to.  Stephen discovers the library and the new librarian, Wong.  He is told that no knowledge is forbidden, only certain practices.  Eventually, Stephen begins to study time, which is not something that is really allowed, but he also gets good at astral projecting and being in two places at one, and even allows his astral form to read while he sleeps.  He has his struggles, often blaming his hands, until the Ancient One leaves him on Mount Everest and he has to make his way back.  He succeeds and continues.  She also shows him the Mirror Dimension when his education progresses and he needs a safe place to practice; what occurs in the Mirror Dimension cannot influence the physical world.  Stephen’s study in time leads him to the book of time and the Eye of Agamotto.  He uses his new knowledge to bring the pages torn out of the book back and starts to read about the Dark Dimension.  He’s caught and stopped and warned not to tamper with natural law.  While the Avengers defend the world against physical dangers, sorcerers defend it against mystical dangers.  Stephen finds out about the three Sanctums; Hong Kong, London, and New York.  The Dark Dimension holds Dormamu, who is the cosmic conqueror and destroyer of worlds.

Then Kaecilius attacks the London Sanctum, which throws Stephen into the New York Sanctum.  Kaecilius soon arrives and kills the guard, and Stephen fights back…with some help from a cape (and the funniest bit of the movie).  Stephen is stabbed and transports himself to the hospital where Christine is and gets her help.  He has to go to the astral plane to fight another bad guy, and he ultimately lives and proves to Christine he’s not crazy, though she’s still a bit scared.  He returns to New York and keeps the cape.  But he has also discovered the Ancient One’s secret; she draws on the Dark Dimension while warning others away…that is how she has lived so long.  Stephen gets in an argument with Mordo, then Kaecilius is back and they try to trap him in in Mirror Dimension, but he fights it.  The Ancient One arrives and fights Kaecilius again.  This time, she’s stabbed and exits the Mirror Dimension.  Stephen takes her to Christine, but she freezes time for a single moment to talk to Stephen, bestowing words of wisdom.  Then she allows herself to die.  Stephen knows he must save the Hong Kong Sanctum, dragging Mordo with him, who is angry with the Ancient One. 

When they initially arrive, they are too late, but Stephen uses the Eye to begin to rewind time.  Eventually, he freezes it and confronts Dormamu.  He’s come to bargain and he has infinite time to repeat the same moment over and over and over again, which makes Dormamu his prisoner.  His price, take the zealots and leave, let Earth live.  Dormamu agrees and Kaecilius is dragged into the Dark Dimension and Hong Kong is saved.  Mordo has to figure out his new path and leaves.  Stephen agrees to put the Eye back and Wong points out that it is an Infinity Stone.  We see that Mordo has chosen a bloody path and hunts down Pangborn because this world now has too many sorcerers.  And a little taste of Thor is given when we see in the credits Stephen meets with the god, mentioning Odin and Loki.

Let me say that this film has a great cast.  However, as much as I’m interested in magic, I just can’t get into this film.  To me, the film is very one note. Yet, it is how we get this meme (and there’s another Sherlock if you include superhero movies in general with Henry Cavill as Superman/Sherlock in Enola Holmes):

Up Next: Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2

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