Doctor Strange follows a genius surgeon, Stephen Strange, who loses the use of his hands in an accident, but whilst trying to find a cure inadvertently stumbles upon spiritual powers he could never have imagined.
The film stands out from the multitude of other marvel films thanks to the stunning visuals which continue to amaze again and again throughout the film. Dazzling sequences allow for large amounts of exposition concerning various dimensions to become a joy to watch rather than a slog. Whilst, not all of the visual effects are truly original, and you may see similarities with the likes of Inception or 2001: A Space Odyssey, they still captivate and set the spiritual and mysterious tone of the film well.
“The break neck speed of the film does have the odd negative”
Audiences have become very used to superhero origin stories in recent years, so the plot could be seen as formulaic to some. But, the fast pace of Doctor Strange meant I never became bored of a location or scene as before I knew it we had burst into another visually entertaining action sequence. The break neck speed of the film does have the odd negative as Stephen Strange’s love interest is not fully developed and seems to just fall away near the end of the film into insignificance.
“A common problem in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is weak and forgettable villains”
Benedict Cumberbatch’s confident performance is what really sets Doctor Strange apart from its many competitors. Cumberbatch is not a brave casting choice, since we are all used to him being the brilliant but difficult genius in Sherlock. However, he brings a confidence and wit which will inevitably lead to comparisons with Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark, which is high praise indeed. Cumberbatch is naturally funny throughout and his performance is varied enough for him to be both the powerful action hero one scene and the more relatable joker in the next. He does pull it off entirely by himself though, as Benedict Wong puts in a great supporting comic performance. Regretably, the humour is occasionally overdone and sometimes a gag arrives far too close to an emotional climax in the film. It is hard for these emotional scenes to have any real poignancy when we are all too quickly jumping to next joke.
“Marvel’s best entry into their cinematic universe since Guardians of the Galaxy.”
A common problem in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is weak and forgettable villains, and unfortunately Doctor Strange does slightly struggle in this department. Mads Mikkelsen portrays Kaecilius: a master of the mystic art whose head has been turned by the dark dimension’s potential in dodging death. His motive is intriguing and his similarities with Stephen Strange lead to some interesting conflict, and it would have been great to have even seen more of this theme. Kaeciliius needs a couple more scenes to really show the audience why we should be scared of him, but unfortunately the swift pace of the film does not allow for this. The villain does his basic job sufficiently and is not necessarily a drawback, but I doubt he is going to become a fan favourite.
Doctor Strange does face the classic Marvel problems of an under cooked villain and a formulaic plot. But it’s difficult to care as the fast moving plot, mind-boggling visuals and an emphatic performance from Benedict Cumberbatch more than compensate for its problems. Doctor Strange is not the instant classic it has the potential to be, but it is exciting throughout and is Marvel’s best entry into their cinematic universe since Guardians of the Galaxy.