Doctor Strange is a well-balanced origin that not only introduces the character to the wider audience but also adds another dimension to the current Marvel universe…pun very much intended!
Doctor Steven Strange is a famous neurosurgeon known throughout the world for his skill as well as his ego. After severely injuring his hands in a car accident, Strange goes in search of alternative methods to get his precious tools back only to stumble into the world of mystic arts and universal threats.
All throughout its production, Doctor Strange has been steeped in mystery. Whether looking at the story or analysing the team behind the scenes, one thing was for sure, this was a real shot in the dark. Thankfully director Scott Derrickson and co. have not only managed to add another successful instalment to the billion dollar franchise, but they have also managed to tell a story away from the ‘rock ‘em, sock ‘em’ framework the MCU currently follows.
While the story follows a similar trend as before, the final product is as well balanced as the highly coveted first phase. While there is a slight pacing issue at the start, once it finds its stride about 30 minutes in, the finished product is more than just another trip to the MCU. Tonally, Strange treads the line between a casual entrant in the franchise and the fun filled exploits of Guardians of the Galaxy – while this may feel odd at times, the blend comes together giving an experience than allows it to stand apart from the others rather than get lost in the crowd.
From a purely aesthetic perspective, Doctor Strange is easily one of the best looking films of the year, perhaps even the last 5. From the trippy multiverse introduction to the mind-bending battle arenas, there is no doubt this is one of the more stunning entrants in the series. When you add this to the traits mentioned above, you end up with a final product that’s more than worthy of your attention.
Although it may be criticised that the general plot follows a well-worn path, the characters and environments take you somewhere new, making the trusted formula feel fresher than you would assume. This not only benefits the structure (by following the same archetype) but gives the story the chance to grow beyond the parameters new entries are often criticised for. As with anything Marvel however, the elephant in the room once again makes himself known in the form of pointless bad guy fodder. While we are introduced to enemies with potential, the ever reliable structure shows its double edged nature again by making the big bad a powerless pawn rather than a universal threat. Although this banality is easily forgiven within the confines of an origin, the throwaway nature of yet another key villain is still something that many fans of the genre may not enjoy.
Despite a rather distracting accent (rivalling Michael Fassbenders turn as Magneto), Benedict Cumberbatch is more than capable as Steven Strange. With some decent comic timing and an impressive ability to turn things up a notch, his skills here definitely bring the character to life in the right way. Rounding off the cast nicely is the ever impressive Tilda Swinton backed up by Chiwetal Ejiofor while Mads Mickelson earns props as he once again does a turn as the villain.
Overall Doctor Strange is another strong entrant in an already strong franchise. With jaw-dropping visuals, an interesting origin and a fascinating new world to explore, director Scott Derrickson clearly proves that you introducing new characters is still completely possible if done right. While our obsession with the superhero franchise may be nearing its half-life, it’s nice to see that Marvel have still got some cards up their sleeves. 4 out of 5 stars.