500 Days Of Film Reviews Doctor Strange Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Mads Mikkelsen
World-famous neurosurgeon, Doctor Stephen Strange’s life changes forever after a horrific car accident robs him of the use of his hands. Desperate for a cure, he seeks out a mysterious Eastern center of healing known as Kamar-Taj.
However, all is not what it seems. Strange soon learns that this mysterious enclave is also the front line in a battle against the dark forces determined to destroy our reality.
Is It Any Good?
As Marvel's introductory titles flickered by before the start of Doctor Strange, I found myself, well, marveling at the universe this franchise has created. So many movies, so many stories.
After a summer of disappointments, could Doctor Strange live up to the standard of its forebears?
It is, therefore, with quite some relief that I can report that director, Scott Derrickson, has created an entertaining, visually stunning mind-bender of a movie. A film featuring a truly stellar cast - each more than capable of imbuing the story with just the right balance of seriousness and arch humour.
I thoroughly enjoyed Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance as Doctor Stephen Strange. However, Tilda Swinton’s portrayal of The Ancient One steals the show. What an inspired piece of casting - particularly considering this character was old, beardy and male in Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s original Doctor Strange comic books.
In many ways, Doctor Strange feels like an un-Marvel Marvel movie. Indeed, it is easy to forget that this film belongs in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. (A mention of The Avengers comes as quite a jolt). Instead, Doctor Strange exists within the spiritual world and explores alternate realities of existence.
The complex concepts at the heart of Doctor Strange could have become an exposition-heavy burden on the film. Thankfully, Derrickson lets his visuals do most of the talking - and what a feast for the eyes he has created.
Imagine sitting in on those early Doctor Strange design meetings. Anything goes as the movie takes the folding cities from Christopher Nolan’s Inception via Del Toro and just runs with its visuals.
Be prepared to visit some pretty darn trippy places and then geek out - it’s awesome.
While I enjoyed Doctor Strange, two things prevented this movie from becoming a five star Marvel classic. First, the story wasn’t nearly smart enough. The potential is certainly there (and I will be first in line to buy tickets for the sequel) but, bar the origin narrative, the plot felt a little weak.
Second, despite the best efforts of a freaky looking Mads Mikkelsen, the evil in this movie is in no way threatening.
Of course, this isn’t a flaw specific to Doctor Strange. It is a weakness that is starting to pervade all superhero movies. The heroes are far more interesting than the villains - who we know will never come close to fulfilling their diabolical plans.
Something needs to happen to raise the threat (and the thrill) level. We need to feel that no one is safe. That may well require that one of our beloved Marvel heroes makes the ultimate sacrifice.
Until then, I shall look forward to seeing Doctor Strange again - if only to see how they can better those visuals.
I just loved Doctor Strange’s cloak - it reminded me of a kick-ass version of Aladdin's carpet.
Watch out for another Stan Lee classic cameo!
Make sure you stay to the very, very end of Doctor Strange. Let those credits roll on by - it is absolutely worth it for two brilliant preview snippets.
Have you seen Doctor Strange?
If you have, what do you think of this new addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Let me know... your astrally projected being can leave me a comment in the box below!