Millenials, you may find this hard to believe, but there WAS a time when nobody watched TV, super hero movies weren't the million dollar extravaganzas we know today, and people heard Superman and The Lone Ranger on the radio. A Washington Heights, New York boy named Stanley Martin Lieber grew up in that era, and his special favorite was a show called "Chandu The Magician," or, as it was introduced, "CHANDUUUUUUUUUUUU, THE MAGICIAN!" before a loud GONNNNNNG! sounded.The creation of Harry Earnshaw and Raymond Morgan, Chandu, originally an American named Frank Chandler, learned secrets of black magic from a yogi in India and pledged to use those secrets for the good of mankind. Although Chandu all but disappeared from the pop culture radar, he stayed in young Lieber's mind, even when he grew up to become Stan Lee, the creator of groundbreaking Marvel Comics characters The Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk, The Amazing Spider-Man, and The Mighty Thor. Having created four heroes who were JUST LIKE US, a misunderstood man-monster, a web-slinging super-teen, and an invalid doctor who tapped a walking stick to become the living embodiment of the Asgardian God of Thunder, Stan decided the only thing he could do for an encore was a hero who used magic to protect mankind, and that hero was DOCTOR STRANGE: MASTER OF THE MYSTIC ARTS. Steve Ditko may have taken credit for the look and spirit of the character,but the direction and feel of the series is all Stan. Like Chandu, Dr. Stephen Vincent Strange was an American who traveled to Asia and discovered how to control magic, but he was also a gifted neurosurgeon who was more interested in wealth and power than helping people purely for the sake of helping. He lost the use of his hands in an automobile accident and, in a quest to restore his abilities, found the Ancient One, then the Sorcerer Supreme. His pupil Mordo sought to inherit that title, but even he, the fount of all magical knowledge, could not understand Mordo's desire to kill the Ancient One and assume the mantle.After defeating Mordo in a magical battle, Strange impressed the Ancient One enough to inherit the mantle, complete with the Eye of Agomotto, a talisman that looked like an eye and could "see" all, and a Cloak of Levitation.
If you think all that would make one kick-butt movie, you're right! That movie ALMOST happened in 1978 as a CBS movie of the week, but that movie HAS happened as MARVEL STUDIOS' DOCTOR STRANGE. Benedict Cumberbatch ("Sherlock") plays Doc as a devotee of the finer things and pop culture junkie who not only loses the use of his hands but also the affections of Dr. Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams). He hears of a paraplegic who gets the magic power to walk again, and meets up with not only the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) and Mordo (Chlewtel Ejiofor), but also his manservant Wong (Benedict Wong) and Kaciellus (Mads Mikkelsen), a rival Master of the Mystic Arts. The mind-blowing special effects are best enjoyed at IMAX theaters, (Go to http://www.imax.com for the one nearest you.) and the Michael Giacchino (RATATOUILLE) score is as magical as the visual end of the ledger, but if you think you're going to miss the kind of classic rock staples that made GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY and other Marvel movies treats for the ear as well as the eye, nothing can be further from the truth as jazz-funk superstars Earth Wind and Fire and symphonic jazz genius Chuck Mangione ("Land of Make Believe," "Chase The Clouds Away," "Give It All You've Got," and the song that appears in this movie, "Feels So Good"), among others, are represented. Telling you too much about the movie would spoil the magic, but it's safe to say that after seeing this, you'll never look at New York, London, or Hong Kong QUITE the same way again!
If I was down to my last and could only choose between DOCTOR STRANGE and a sandwich, I'd mix myself an ice-cold Meta Appetite Control and then sit back, relax, and enjoy all the Marvelously Strange magic. By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth, MISS IT NOT! That's MY prescription!