Have you noticed that the current British actor du jour is Benedict Cumberbatch? He is in EVERYTHING! And you know what? He's pretty good! And this time he speaks American.
Here he has joined the Marvel Universe under the guiding hand of director Scott Derrickson ("Deliver Us from Evil") who uses a script by a whole committee of writers. In keeping with most Marvel movies, this one is rated PG-13 and contains...guess what? A LOT of Computer Generated Imaging, a lot of fisticuffs, a lot of blowie uppie stuff, a lot of humor, three swear words and no sex. Whew! But brace yourself for some gruesome opening scenes: a decapitation and brain surgery (not on the same person) and a horrific car wreck (those darn cell phones!).
Derrickson's stellar cast includes:
- * Benedict Cumberbatch ("August: Osage County" he's a southern hick) is DoctorStephen Strange, the former neurosurgeon who frantically has begun a journey of healing, only to encounter stuff about "spirit" and nothing about anatomy. Spirit is so much hooey; he's a DOCTOR! I love his dialogue because he's witty and bright. But his CAPE! Wait until you see it in action...
- * Chiwetel Ejiofor ("12 Years a Slave") Mordo never claimed to be either witty or bright, but he IS spiritual... He tries to explain the healing abilities of The Ancient One, but our good doctor refuses to take him seriously. But Strange DOES learn a lot about martial arts from Mordo...
- * Rachel McAdams ("Spotlight") plays Christine Palmer, the sweet, soft-hearted Emergency Room doctor who loves our hero. Problem is, he tells such a far-fetched story, she KNOWS he is lying.
- * Benedict Wong ("The Martian") Wong (not a typo!) is concerned with his library full of sacred books. He takes his job very seriously and has NO sense of humor.
- * Mads Mikkelsen ("The Royal Affair") Kaecilius is the fellow we quickly learn to hate. He had so much potential before he went to the Dark Side.
- * Benjamin Bratt ("La Mission") Jonathan Pangborn desperately needed our doctor's help but he was refused. Now he seems to be fine, at least we hope so... Hmmm...
- * Tilda Swinton ("Hail, Caesar!") is The Ancient One, full of surprises and incredibly powerful...plus she makes a darn good cup of tea.
- * Stan Lee ("Marvel Movies") makes another cameo which was greeted by a welcoming murmur that rippled through our screening crowd. We LOVE him!
This CGI-loaded actioner seems to be inspired by the vertigo-inducing special effects of "Inception" (particularly in 3D) plus it is already screening a cross-over production with more Marvel $uperheroes. It's always fun to see these genesis stories, and find out what made our superheroes super.
Amid the quasi-scientific mumbo jumbo that laced the dialogue, I heard one statement that stuck: "Humans are tiny momentary specks in an indifferent universe." Watch our doctor when he hears it that second time.