Film Review: Doctor Strange
“Heroes Like The Avengers Protect The World From Physical Dangers. We Safeguard It Against More Mystical Threats…”
Alas, Benedict Cumberbatch has joined the MCU. Surely that alone is a good enough reason to venture to your local cinema and check out the newest Marvel offering, directed by Scott Derrickson, famous for being at the helm for movies such as Sinister and The Exorcism of Emily Rose, whose past forays into the horror genre make it a strangely bold choice in an attempt to bring Doctor Strange to the big screen, a character of whom I can say rather ashamedly I was wholeheartedly unaware of before sitting down and embracing the strange (No pun intended), surreal and slightly bonkers world of Doctor Stephen Strange, the egoistical yet superb neurosurgeon who after crippling his body in a car crash seeks out the powers of the Ancient One in order to regain his strength. Boasting probably one of the best casts for an origin story in the entire MCU, Doctor Strange suffers at times from being slightly too similar to many of its’ predecessors in terms of setting out the path of the titular Doctor, yet is supported by a wild sense of originality in terms of effects which boosts the film into territory that can only be classed as one hell of a trippy ride.
In the leading role, Benedict Cumberbatch brings the tenacity and rigour you would expect from an actor whose portrayal of the world’s leading detective has earned plaudits from all around the globe, and whilst the titular Doctor Strange bears some similarities to the character of Sherlock, Stephen Strange is undoubtedly a character in his own right, one which has both the confidence and faith in his own intelligence to be regarded as egotistic yet is fundamentally likeable because of such in a similar vein to Tony Stark, a similarly brilliant mind who too suffers a tragedy and attempts to fix such by any means necessary. In the case of Tony Stark, his own brilliance was the key to regaining his strength with the development of the arc reactor whilst Stephen Strange relies on the wisdom of the Ancient One, portrayed fantastically by Tilda Swinton, alongside Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Karl Mordo and Rachel McAdam’s Dr. Christine Adams, the love interest of Doctor Strange who has way too little screen-time but does the most with what she is given to form a three dimensional relationship between the two characters.
Furthermore, Mads Mikkelsen too has an underwritten presence as the enemy of the picture, yet still manages to portray a character who is fearful and ambiguous enough to enjoy when on-screen, a testament to the acting abilities of the film’s cast. Where the film does manage to succeed overwhelmingly is in its’ Inception-esque effects design which presents the mystical world of Doctor Strange by having gigantic buildings fold in and expand whilst our on-screen heroes and villains fight off against each other through mystical portals which bend the rules of both time and space. Doctor Who eat your heart out, and where the effects are truly tested is during a simply wonderful scene during the film’s climax in which the destruction of a city is saved by the reversal of time, all the while the film’s characters continue to fight off against each other in a tremendously spectacular fashion. Doctor Strange is perhaps the second film after Guardians of the Galaxy to truly acknowledge the power of the MCU, with its’ existence due in part to the success of the films’ before it. It’s not Captain America: Winter Soldier or Guardians of the Galaxy, but somewhere between Civil War and Iron Man, yet what it is overall is another Marvel success, albeit a slightly strange one. Once again, no pun intended.