Genre: Action, Adventure, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Director: Scott Derrickson
Running Time: 130 minutes
Main Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Mads Mikkelsen, Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong and Benjamin Bratt
Doctor Strange is simply a wonder to look at, breaking the dimensions of our world to bring thrilling action to the screen.Doctor Strange is the Marvel Cinematic Universe‘s most risky film to date, taking on the world of magic and dimensions, rather then the superhero films they have become renowned for.
The plot centres around Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), the world’s top neurosurgeon until he is involved in a car accident where his hands are crushed, rendering them useless for his job. For months he tries different remedies to try and restore his hands, to no avail. Strange then finds out during one therapy session that Jonathan Pangborn (Benjamin Bratt), a paraplegic, was mysteriously able to walk after visiting a place called Kamar-Taj. So Strange heads to Kathmandu, Nepal, to seek out the immortal Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), where he is introduced to the world of magic and alternate dimensions. He also learns that the society he has just joined is tasked with defending earth from evil dimensional elements, with sanctums placed in New York, London and Hong Kong to defend earth from these dimensional elements. The enemy is Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), a former disciple of the Ancient One, who has stolen a few pages of the Book of Cagliostro from Kamar-Taj’s library as part of his scheme to summon Dormammu, lord of the Dark Dimension to Earth. Doctor Strange must learn to use his new found powers whilst also overcoming his own self-doubt and ego to defeat these dimensional threats.
There is no other male actor that could play Doctor Strange in such a way as Benedict Cumberbatch. He is simply superb. He shows how much of an egotistical man he is, whilst also injecting some humour that is guaranteed to get a laugh. He is able to portray his transformation on screen perfectly and still seem cool when he is dressed in his full outfit. He is the man that brings the lighter side to every dark scene within the humour as his character cannot take things seriously and must have a little sarcasm or hints of his ego showing through. its fun watching Cumberbatch being so charismatic and trying to nail an American accent, which at times is believable. He is joined by Tilda Swinton, who was controversially casted for her role as the Ancient One, conveying her powers with ease, shining in the role. Mads Mikkelsen plays the bad dude in this one, and he shines in a dark way, he even looks like he has just slept with his entire make up on from the night before (You know like racoon eyes). Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Benedict Wong round out the other stars in the film.
This isn’t your ordinary Marvel movie, let alone a normal Marvel comic. It is a darker tone then what people expect with the MCU and deals with higher concepts such as time, the inevitability of death and surrendering control. It at times feels heavy, as it tries to relay so much information about our universe, time and other important narrative information at once, making it straining on the brain. But other than the heaviness, it is still able to weave in the physical action and humour that Marvel has become renowned for. However, it does still feel like that cliché superhero movie, where it returns to the good vs. evil, good beats evil clichés we have known in Marvel. It is understandable that it cannot move away from this formula, as it works, but for this type of story a more complex way of approaching the good vs. evil storyline would have worked. A change from that mode of story telling would have been nice, but I’m talking to a brick wall in Marvel, because if the system works why stop it. Overall the story works for this medium and its enough to sustain you when watching the film. It flows along nicely from act to act with the action and humour adding to it.
However, what makes this film is its special effects, which steal the show from the narrative and Doctor Strange himself, even though he owes his performance to the CGI. The CGI makes the film feel like an acid trip without having actually taking acid. You see the world bend, and shatter and then be put back together in front of you. It is able to show how the universe works within the film and helps take the viewer and Doctor strange through the training and allows us to see the magic happen on the screen as the characters would in their own world. it is simply amazing, its magical to sit there and experience. Throughout the entirety of the film the CGI never feels too over the top and it works for the type of story they are trying to tell. For a film that is full of CGI. It truly is a feat of wonder in how they have found the perfect balance between too much and too little.
Doctor Strange is a wonderful change in scenery for Marvel. Its their riskiest movie to date and it truly pays off, without standing casting and eye-catching CGI. Its narrative is at times heavy and hard to grasp quickly whilst feeling like the same old structure as the other Marvel films, it is still able to keep you engaged within the story and enjoy it in the theatre. I would recommend seeing this film in 3D, as to maximise the CGI’s potential.
The Front Row Opinion
PS – Don’t forget to stay for the whole credits, because as you know Marvel love Easter eggs. 😉