Doctor Strange: Likable sort-of-heroes played by a spot-on cast wield superhuman powers, pop-culture references and witty one-liners to overcome tragic backstories, powerful villains and baffling plot holes. So far, so Marvel Cinematic Universe. Strange is hardly cookie-cutter, however, as this fourteenth (!) instalment of Kevin Feige’s mega-series is the best looking and most visually creative.
Every second spent in one of the kaleidoscopic mirror dimensions that provide a battleground for magicians on both sides of the sorcerous civil war is gloriously psychedelic and awe-inspiring in its complexity. Comparisons to Inception and Interstellar are inevitable but Doctor Strange goes several steps further in the sheer scale of its visual onslaught, helped in no small part by the maturation of 3-D cinema.
Long-time fans of the comics’ Strange will be pleased as the script emphasises one of his most unique traits: in a world of superbeings, gods and billionaire machinists, Doctor Strange owes his immense powers to nothing but study and practice. Cumberbatch is unsurprisingly good and plays the titular sorcerer with his signature calculated wit, as well as a little more emotion than we are used to seeing from him. Not sure what to think of the American accent, though.
The dialogue is disappointing, however, as not even Cumberbatch’s charisma can stop lines like “I don’t believe in fairy tales” from producing an eye-roll. The cosmology isn’t getting any less convoluted, either; an infinite spread of physics-mocking alternate dimensions are added to the MCU’s nine realms, sometimes leaving you missing 2005 when all superhero films were set in New York City.
Not only the best-looking Marvel film but one of the most mind-bending and striking visual experiences in cinema, Doctor Strange is easy to recommend, even if it does lack some of the charm and depth of its MCU siblings.
CAST: Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen
DIRECTOR: Scott Derrickson
WRITERS: Scott Derrickson, C. Robert Cargill, Jon Spaihts
SYNOPSIS: After Stephen Strange, the world’s top neurosurgeon, is injured in a car accident that ruins his career, he sets out on a journey of healing, where he encounters the Ancient One, who later becomes his mentor in the mystic arts.