Doctor Strange (12A)

Unlike many other Marvel films, I did not have many preformed expectations when I went into Doctor Strange.  I was slightly skeptical about how good it would be with Marvel’s track record with its weak villains and its thus far clumsy handling of magic elements like in Thor and Thor: The Dark World.  However, I was pleasantly surprised by this latest Phase Three installment, it does not disappoint.

Doctor Strange follows the story of the eponymous Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), a celebrated neurosurgeon, who is involved in a brutal accident which leaves him unable to continue with his career.  He seeks out a remedy for his injuries, all failing, until he is directed to Katmandu where he encounters a cult-like group with mysterious abilities led by The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton).

Swinton gives yet another brilliant performance, her ethereal nature a perfect fit for the character of The Ancient One.  However, she is slightly underused and it would have been refreshing to have seen more of her.  Another underused talent is Mads Mikkelsen as Kaecilius.  This is a man used to playing the antagonist, but this is another instance where chooses not to properly explain their villains.  While Kaecilius is still miles better than the motiveless Malekith of Thor: The Dark World, he is nowhere near the realms of greats such as Loki, which is a shame considering Mikkelsen’s potential.

The visual effects work seamlessly into the film leaving you with the feeling that you are actually travelling through multiple dimensions

Cumberbatch proves himself once again to be a reliable talent with his solid performance as the titular Doctor Stephen Strange.  I must admit I was worried when I saw the rather flat sketch on and episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live!, but thankfully this was miles better.  He pulls off the American accent well and channels Strange’s materialistic and arrogant nature wonderfully.  I am very excited about Cumberbatch now being inducted into Marvel’s talent pool alongside the likes of Tom Hiddleston, Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth and many more.  I am even more excited to see them all interact in future films.

One of the most impressive elements of this film is its visual effects.  With the literal reality-bending aspect of Doctor Strange I was excited to see how it would be handled onscreen, and I was not disappointed.  The visual effects work seamlessly into the film leaving you with the feeling that you are actually travelling through multiple dimensions, or that the very world around you is being folded up like a piece of old cardboard.

Overall, Doctor Strange is another impressive installment by Marvel, and although it does not reach the heights of fellow off-the-wall epic Guardians of the Galaxy, it is more than worth a watch.  The visual effects alone are grounds enough to see this film, but along with strong performances and a genuinely interesting and compelling story it’s definitely not one to be missed.

The only thing I lament is Marvel’s decision to not bring in more unknown actors like they originally did with Hiddleston and Hemsworth. Although Cumberbatch is clearly perfect casting, it seems the studio is now beginning to act more like the Hollywood studios of old, rather than paving a path for the future.

Rating: 4/5

More like this: Inception (2010)

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