Benedict Cumberbatch is perfect in the title role of this latest piece of cinematic spectacle from Marvel
Taking a lesser-known comic book hero and injecting a healthy dose of magical mayhem into the MCU, Doctor Strange is a psychedelic extravaganza that's sure to spin the heads of cinema-goers with its trippy effects and tongue-and-cheek wit. The story centres on Doctor Stephen Strange, an arrogant neurosurgeon who is transformed into a magician. Decked out with a snazzy, high-collared cape and coming across like Doctor Who by way of Sherlock, Benedict Cumberbatch couldn’t be more suited to the role.
Like Tony Stark before him, Strange is wealthy and full of hubris. As the movie formula goes, there must be a fall before he rises again in glory. Strange’s ego-denting comes in the form of a car crash that crushes his hands, stripping him of his ability to perform his job. Desperate, he is willing to try anything, leading him to an ancient cabal in Tibet. It is here he encounters the Ancient One (a bald Tilda Swinton), a mystic monk who forces him to reevaluate his perception of reality and learn the ancient magical arts of the Kamar-Taj by going under the wing of the stern-faced magician Wong (Benedict Wong) and his martial arts mentor Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor).
Director Scott Derrickson, and his screenwriters Jon Spaihts and C. Robert Cargill, plunge us headfirst into this topsy-turvy world, offering a spectacle that puts Christopher Nolan’s dreamscapes in Inception to shame. The film provides all the whiz-bangs we associate with Marvel, and it unashamedly relishes in high fantasy dialogue, but at its core this is a story of a man brought low, forced to reexamine his purpose. And thankfully it's a recovery tale wrapped with wit, devoid of the po-faced ponderings that are plaguing the rival DC universe.
Doctor Strange's dazzling visuals will have your eyes darting across the screen to absorb every detail, but it is the charm and wit with which this previously untapped corner of the Marvel Universe is unleashed that stays with you.
Released by Disney