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I just returned from the press screening of ‘Doctor Strange‘ which is the latest movie from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. All I can say is “WOW!” This is easily the best Marvel movie since the original ‘Iron Man‘ and it takes the franchise in a bold and exciting new direction. For those of you unfamiliar with the comic book character, Doctor Stephen Strange (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) is a brilliant but arrogant neurosurgeon who, after a horrible car accident, loses most of the use of his hands. Following unsuccessful attempts to repair the damage using surgeries and Western medicine, he sets out for Nepal to try alternative methods. In the film version that we see here, Strange encounters The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) who begins to train him in the mystic arts. Another of her high ranking students named Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is worried because of how Strange’s behavior and attitude match that of another student Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) who has turned to evil and is attempting to destroy the sanctums that protect Earth from the dark dimension ruled by Dormammu.

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Needless to say that this movie separates itself quite quickly from the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe while still providing evidence that it is connected (Is that Avengers Tower I see in the skyline?). And while we got a small taste of magic from Scarlet Witch‘s abilities in ‘Avengers 2‘ and ‘Captain America 3: Civil War‘, this film drops the proverbial mic on the subject. (“Earth has wizards now?” asks Thor in the 1st post-credits stinger.) The special effects used were dizzying at first but quickly become jaw-droppingly awesome. It’s like watching a movie that takes place across several M.C. Escher drawings simultaneously. The whole film is visually spectacular, thoroughly engaging and takes the MCU to a higher level with larger stakes. The acting is effortless from this incredible cast and the story is dramatic and comedic while remaining a true adventure film. There are no lost moments in the movie or scenes that cause you to wonder why they were included. It is dynamic, breathless and intense in a realm that Marvel hasn’t yet explored. Before this film I had a hard time figuring out how the current players were going to be able to beat Thanos who is THE big bad of the Marvel Universe. But now that Earth has a new Sorcerer Supreme, I’m not quite as concerned.

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Given the visuals of this film, you are doing yourself a great disservice by not seeing it in 3-D so go ahead and pay the extra couple of bucks. It’s totally worth it. And, as with most Marvel films, there are two post credit sequences so stick around through all of the credits. Overall I would rate this as a “must see” film that completely changes the rules of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know them and re-energizes an already electric film franchise. I can tell you right now that I’ll be seeing this one again in theaters at least a few times because it is just that compelling and well done. I keep waiting for Marvel to lose their footing or fumble the ball a little but instead they just keep delivering home run after home run and ‘Doctor Strange’ is, in my opinion, a grand slam.

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