The latest in the ever-growing line of massive Marvel movies takes a step back from the realities of super human heroes and takes a stunning visual look at a different kind of super power, magic.
Doctor Strange is the spellbinding origin story of the titular character played expertly by none other than Mr. Cheekbones himself, Benedict Cumberbatch. Doctor Stephan Strange is a highly successful neurosurgeon and playboy, until a harrowing car crash damages his hands seemingly beyond repair. In search of a remedy he travels to Nepal where a group of mystics led by the powerfully peculiar Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) induct him into the world of wizardry (Not to be confused with that of Harry Potter, no Voldemort here).
First and foremost, the story line of this film is nothing groundbreaking and follows all the sames beats as your typical Marvel movie. Evil super-villain wants to takeover/destroy the world, new bumbling hero learns of their power, comes of age, fights the villains and everyone lives happily ever after.
However, the main reason that you should see this film is not for the story, it is for the breathtaking and bamboozling visuals. One sequence in particular demonstrates this to perfection with a huge kaleidoscope of colour, fractals of different dimensions and some downright crazy imagery, the highlight being the moment when hands sprout from Strange’s own hands, yes it is just as weird as it sounds but it is absolutely incredible to witness.
The direction in this film is superb, particularly during the mind-boggling CGI scenes, of which there are many. In most instances, less is more with CGI but Doctor Strange would not be possible without it and benefits hugely from its inclusion. The director, Scott Derrikson has done an impeccable job and it is made more impressive when you bear in mind the fact that the majority of films he has made until this point have been low-budget horror movies.
The actors were all perfectly cast in this film, particularly Benedict Cumberbatch (featuring an American accent) as Strange, Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Karl Mordo, who are all excellent in their roles. All three carry a degree of charisma and bring an unmatched pedigree to the film. However, in order to prioritise certain character’s development over others, Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams) and Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) fall desperately by the way-side throughout the film and don’t get the attention they deserve. This is painfully obvious in Mikkelsen’s character the villain, Kaecilius, who just seems to be there being evil, like many Marvel villains before him.
Despite the frustrating shortcomings of the story and the lack of development of certain characters, Doctor Strange is a refreshingly different film from the Marvel cinematic universe as it takes a step away from the conventional super hero movie. This is a film you must see purely for the overwhelmingly cool and mind-boggling visual effects and and technological wizardry that has gone into making this movie the cinematic work of art that it is, but don’t go expecting fireworks or revolutionary story telling because at this stage Marvel are very unlikely to step away from their hugely successful formula.
Doctor Strange was released in the UK on October 25, 2016.