Director: Scott Derrickson
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Mads Mikkelsen
Length: 1hr 55m
Benedict Cumberbatch is playing an arrogant genius who tends to alienate those around him – talk about being typecast. Dr Stephen Strange is a talented neurosurgeon at the top of his game, who befalls an accident which means he can no longer continue his work. So, he goes to Katmandu to try and heal himself with the aid of The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) – and with a title like that what else can she do but bring Strange into a world of spirituality and magic.
Superhero fatigue is setting in for many, with this being Marvel’s fourteenth instalment of super-powered white guys saving the day. It cannot be denied at this point that Marvel is a well-oiled machine, blending likeable protagonists with quippy one-liners and well-constructed action set pieces, creating their fair share of solid summer action flicks. So it was surprising that, for the opening act at least, it felt different to what we have seen before. Doctor Strange distances itself from the other recent Marvel films, a solo superhero rather than an ensemble affair, and the addition of magic takes a fresh spin on a tried and tested formula.
What does elevate it beyond the rest of the franchise is the action sequences, which are probably some of the best yet in the Marvel cinematic universe. Clearly influenced by films like Inception and The Matrix, there are some stunning visuals with buildings folding in on themselves, fight sequences where time is going backwards. It’s striking and creative, and makes the very most of the concept at hand.
The other aspect which elevates the film above others of the genre is the cast, with some of the best of Britain cast as Americans, making for one of the best casts of a Marvel Film. I feel kind of proud of our Brits taking over a major Hollywood picture, and doing fantastic with it. All of them bring gravitas to roles that otherwise might be throwaway, but still with a light-hearted touch and plenty of humanity. However, they do waste the talent of Mads Mikkelsen, who is cast as yet another forgettable Marvel villain – and he’s certainly proven in Hannibal that he can play one convincing villain. Rachel McAdams also plays a rather limited role, being reduced to primarily a love interest, but she manages to make the most of it and maintains a very likable screen presence.
Doctor Strange is another strong step in the right direction for Marvel. Though probably not one of their best efforts, it’s still certainly a strong one. It’s probably not enough to change the mind of those who are sick to death of comic book movies, but for those who are still enjoying the bandwagon, it’s original enough not to feel like just another superhero film. Plus, with great effects and a stellar cast. it’s really all you could want and expect from a major motion blockbuster.