Marvel Studios’ “Doctor Strange” is set to cast a spell on the audience with the “truly spectacular, very heartfelt, at times funny, but really thrilling journey” of the arrogant neurosurgeon Stephen Strange, who transforms into a powerful sorcerer.

An exclusive mind-bending 30 minutes of “Doctor Strange” was screened at the The Grand Cinema in the Elements mall here on Wednesday for select media from countries, including India. IANS was part of the group.

In the first few minutes of the footage, the “Sherlock” star Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays the title role, is seen as a successful neurosurgeon. He is full of arrogance, probably due to his surgical skills. His way of dealing with patients’ relatives and colleagues would remind some of Dr. Gregory House, played by Hugh Laurie, in the popular TV series “House”.

Unlike most superheroes, Strange doesn’t seem to have a love life though he does flirt with his former flame Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams). Apart from her, it’s a woman who plays a significant role in his life post-accident. After he gets involved in a car crash that takes away his ability to perform surgeries, he meets The Ancient One, essayed by the Oscar-winning actress Tilda Swinton. She becomes his mystic mentor.

What follows next is a series of gripping city-bending scenes featuring Strange and Baron Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) being chased by the villain Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen). There is also a mention of the dreaded villain Dormammu in the film, which was shot here as well.

Like in all the Marvel Studios’ films such as “Iron Man” and “The Avengers”, legendary writer Stan Lee — former President and Chairman of Marvel Comics — also appears in the forthcoming film, helmed by Scott Derrickson. There is a “hilarious” Stan Lee cameo during a chase scene.

The film’s special effects add to the wow factor, but Cumberbatch had to do “a little bit more running around” as compared to his other roles.

“Despite the extraordinary effects you will see in the film, a lot of them were done in person. The physical side of things was a new step up for me,” said the actor at a press conference here on Thursday.

“Doctor Strange is a very exciting character who goes on a fantastic journey in this film. It’s an origin story, it’s full of humour, it’s full of truth to the original source material… the comics, and it’s got the most fantastic cast.

“And a wonderful director, and a studio which knows exactly what it is doing. I think the audience is in for a truly spectacular, very heartfelt, at times funny, but really thrilling journey,” he added.

Derrickson said that “What a lot of people don’t understand is that when an actor performs a lot of his own stunts, as Benedict did in this movie, it’s very physically demanding”.

“So when I think about the production, a lot of what comes to mind is Benedict being in physical pain, and having to perform in situations where he is getting hit, getting kicked… doing very difficult things. It’s unpleasant but he was a total trooper and kept getting better and better as we went along,” he added.

Cumberbatch might not have played a superhero before, but Kevin Feige, President of Marvel Studios, shared that the British actor was their “number one choice without a question. He is clearly Doctor Strange”.

Swinton had a great experience shooting it.

“It doesn’t matter how old we are, we go into the cinema to see a Marvel film and we are going on a magical mystery ride, we are on a magic carpet and I would say what we would get this time is something different, and a little special because we are dealing with magical powers but we are also dealing with human beings, and that really does deliver something special,” she said.

She enjoyed filming the fight scenes. “The greatest fun for me was the fighting,” she said and added: “That was a great thrill. Casting spells while remembering the lines was the most difficult thing for her.”

“Doctor Strange” will hit screens in India on November 4, the same day as its North American release.

(The writer’s trip is at the invitation of Disney India. Natalia can be contacted at [email protected])

By Natalia Ningthoujam

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