A dedicated scientist, Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), learns to embrace the mystical arts in order to fight a powerful adversary in “Doctor Strange.” (AP)

By M. Scott Morris

Daily Journal

Instead of super powers, “Doctor Strange” offers heroes with magical powers.

Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a brilliant and successful surgeon, and his ego deserves its own time zone.

He’s the kind of character who needs to be brought down low, and that’s what happens after a car accident. What good is a brain surgeon with shaky hands?

Whatever the accident doesn’t take from him, he runs off by his own behavior. Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams) can take only so much before she leaves for her own sanity.

Stripped of all he once held dear, Strange hears about a possible cure somewhere in Nepal. He’s a man of science who considers the supernatural to be the stuff of fairy tales, so he’s in for a clash of wills when he meets the mystical Ancient One (Tilda Swinton).

“Doctor Strange” is a Marvel Studios production, and that means there will be tense action scenes, threats to humanity and plenty of laughs. I’m not sure how the creative team pulls off that compelling mixture. The folks at DC Comics are probably wondering the same thing.

Cumberbatch is perfect for the role. He’s spent years playing a modern-day Sherlock Holmes, so he’s got the egotistical part down.

He also gives us a Strange who’s not willing to throw away all he knows. He’s a gifted student who still struggles with what he’s learning. That contradiction makes him easy to relate to, no matter how big the ego.

Director Scott Derrickson puts Strange into some odd situations courtesy of computer generated imagery. Rooms, then buildings and whole cities turn on their sides, as Strange, the Ancient One, Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and the dark mage Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) battle for London, New York and Hong Kong.

The effects during the fight scenes are seamless and cool, but I felt like they went on too long during the scene where the Ancient One introduces Strange to the mystic possibilities.

“Doctor Strange” is the latest in a long line of Marvel movies, and there’s reason to believe the character will show up in future movies.

If his magical origin story is any indication, the doctor will fit in fine with other heroes in the universe. His ego is battered in this film, but I’d love to see him go against Robert Downey Jr.’s arrogant Tony Stark someday.

I give “Doctor Strange” an A minus.

It’s showing at Malcos in Tupelo, Oxford, Corinth and Columbus, as well as Hollywood Premier Cinemas in Starkville and Movie Reel 4 in New Albany.

Look for movie reviews in Scene on Thursdays, and listen each Tuesday on Wizard 106.7 between 4:30 and 5 p.m.

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