Brilliant but arrogant neuro surgeon, Dr Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) suffers catastrophic damage to his hands after being involved in a near fatal car accident. After all known medical procedures fail to repair his injuries , he travels to Tibet and seeks the help of the so called ‘Ancient One’ (Tilda Swinton-very good) a sorcerer who has the power to travel to other dimensions, manipulate astral planes and use magic as a weapon against evil.
Doctor Strange is the fourteenth film in the wildly successful and virtually critic proof Marvel cinematic universe, and mercifully its one of the better entries, which frankly it needed to be after the disappointment of Avengers: Age Of Ultron and the highly contrived Captain America: Civil War.
Director Scott Derrickson (Sinister) does well with the use of some truly death defying camera angles and very inventive VFX, there are also some great laughs to be had that are very much in the same vein as the Iron Man trilogy and the first Avengers film.
However to be honest, the whole affair succeeds principally due to Benedict Cumberbatch. Without doubt this man is probably one of the greatest actors working today, he exudes effortless charisma, turns potentially corny lines into Shakespearean masterworks, completely holds the viewers attention whenever he is on screen, is completely believable in the action stakes and, very much like Downey Jr was as Iron Man, seems to have been born to play Dr Strange. Indeed one could say that without him, this film would not have been half as good, as there are a number of faults that are going to be exposed with repeated viewings.
To begin with its obvious that Marvel has rather cynically chosen this character as he inhabits a world very similar to Harry Potter – which guarantees bumper box office, not only that but the mind bending visuals do seem to have been somewhat aped from the likes of Inception and The Matrix. Then of course we have the age old Marvel issue of a forgettable bad guy (Mads Mikkelsen – a good actor, who, despite trying very hard is wasted here) and yet another city destroying, sfx heavy climax that, whilst exciting enough, doesn’t give us anything we haven’t seen before in (deep breath) The Avengers, Incredible Hulk, Thor:The Dark World , Captain America: The Winter Soldier etc etc etc.
It also has to be said that as good as their output is, Kevin Feige and Marvel studios have got get out of this perpetual 12A baiting comfort zone that they have been covering themselves in for the past 8 years. Its high time for some of the dark edginess we saw in The Winter Soldier and Guardians of The Galaxy, an introduction of a really good villain that can rival the likes of Loki for both charisma and evil doings, kill off some of the main characters, and for God’s sake do something more original for a climax that doesn’t involve a city being turned upside down and blown to smithereens.
However despite all this, i have to take my hat off to them again as they really are head and shoulders above DC (for the moment) and the very tired looking X-Men franchise. Not only that but if anything, the one thing Marvel consistently get right is in the casting of its main characters and with Doctor Strange they have pulled off a genuine coup with Cumberbatch, who not only saves the film from Civil War/Age Of Ultron banality but elevates it to the kind of levels not seen since Downey Jr in Iron Man and Chris Pratt in Guardians.
So overall a good watch – especially if you are a fan of Benedict Cumberbatch.
PS: dont forget to stay for both the mid and end credits scenes.
Author: Will Strong aka Grosse Point Geek