Doctor Strange – Review

When Civil War rolled it’s credits (and after credit sequences,) a new sensation beat in the hearts of Marvel fans: A sense of completion.  After all, our favourite heroes, the Avengers, had fought together one last time and Steve Rogers had given up the mantle of Captain America with a defiant drop of his shield. Though many Marvel films and phases have been scheduled in, this sense of finality lingered, though superb in execution.

How could we continue after such a crushing blow? Our heroes battling two sides with no clear choice accept to walk a different path away from one another.

Well, an exciting new chapter in Marvel has excellently started with the astonishing and awe-inspiring Doctor Strange, ready to invigorate a whole new era of Marvel hero.

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Doctor Strange revolves around the titular character, Steven as a forename, who is an expert in neuroscience, valuing progress in the name of success and conquering life over death. When he gets into an tragic car accident, his precious hands are destroyed and the loss of his work tortures him. Prompted by another to seek out a sacred place, Strange takes tutelage under the wisdom of The Ancient One and learns the gifts of magic and alternate universes. However, he must also learn that there is a great darkness reaping the land as an ex-student collides with the natural order…

Remember when you were a child and you’d feverishly leave the cinema after a romping magical fest coated your eyes with glee? Remember how the resurgence of superhero movies caught that wide-eyed imagination? And remember how it was dulled by copious amounts of spandex clad heroes winging their way through cities and origin stories?

Yes, blockbuster fatigue affected us all with the over-saturation of secret identities, powers, and world-saving. Yet, Doctor Strange swoops in with a swish of an overzealous cape, a goateed Benedict Cumberbatch, and a clearer mind for all things grandiose and epic.

This spectacle is an epic in every true sense of the world. Whether it’s weaving ethos and emotion into a grander and magical scope or simple spell-binding you with enchantment, Doctor Strange has forever shifted and bent the landscape for Marvel movies and it is bloody good too. Though admittedly, the brand new entity takes a while to kick start, eventually it’ll astral project you into a whole new plane alongside great talents who really want to immerse you in this Strange new world.

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Scott Derrickson whose previous credits include The Exorcism of Emily Rose and steps into the mantle of director and conducts a beautiful and brutal fantasy world with realms and universes colliding in spectacular colour. With production and FX teams that are sheer magicians themselves, crafting a spectrum of neon delights and magical moments, Derrickson’s work never forgets the grounded Earth Strange belongs too and the human core allows the marvellous wonder too pivot with emotionality. The threads balance gloriously.

Whilst Mads Mikkelson’s villain isn’t the great entity bearing down on the film, he represents a key element as to why Doctor Strange ticks so well – the duality of heroes and villains and how ones sense of righteousness is another’s evil. And Mikkelson, himself, is such a excellent dark character player that he wastes exactly zero time on screen. Tilda Swinton swiftly scoops away controversies to play an adept leader and her guidance is crucial to the film. Side players such as Chiwetel Ejiofor (a man who so deserves more leading roles, hmmkay?) and Rachel McAdams add their own vitality to the film (though, it has to be noted, that McAdams’ bewildered reactions and exasperated facial expressions are hilariously on point.)

So what about Mr – I mean Doctor – Strange himself? How naïve were we to ever doubt that the presence of Benedict Cumberbatch would be anything less than triumphant?

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Moronic, even. As the initial Yankie accent shock falls away, Cumberbatch wields his talent with acute precision. You may allude his egotistical Doctor to Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark or perhaps bemoan about the origin story likeness, but Cumberbatch is so very clever to steer you into his own vision and character becoming. Spirited, determined, flawed, and funny, Strange is instantly a likeably character that goes through frustrating patches of doubt and self-pity until he learns to master his true strength. Cumberbatch’s charisma is unparalleled in the movie business, he has a gravitas on screen unlike any other. In a heroic role, unlike any other, Cumberbatch drips and drapes into another rambunctious yet visceral character for you to root for with every single fibre.

Placing all our cards on the table here, we’ve touched upon irritating similarities with every other superhero start-up and Doctor Strange does, indeed, have a handful of them. Yet the cast and crew here are playful with it, inventive with it, and excel away from it – all set to an unforgettable score that has splashes of choral and prog-rock.

Another portal has opened and Doctor Strange pushes us right into it with a suave smirk. A blend of the comedic, the dramatic, and the majestic action, this is sorcery and surgery all at once.

You’ll leave with a skipping heart believing in magic once again.

Doctor Strange is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now! 

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