Doctor Strange review - solid with extra spectacle


Doctor Strange review - solid with extra spectacle

Doctor Stephen Strange discovers a mystical world while on a quest for healing.

Don’t watch any trailers, just find the biggest and brightest screen you can with the best sound and even 3D (yes really) and soak up all that Doctor Strange has to offer. This kind of spectacle doesn’t come along too often and it just won’t have the same impact on the small screen.

Things get seriously trippy in here, especially in a sequence when Strange has his mind opened to the boundless possibilities of the multiverse and it’s incredible to watch, especially in IMAX.

It’s a testament to director Scott Derrickson that these out-there sequences don’t derail the film but it’s great to see special effects being used for something truly special, as Benedict Cumberbatch’s Strange realises how small his world truly is.

The rest of the film is very watchable indeed. A lot of that is down to the excellent cast including Cumberbatch, whose American accent was less distracting than I was expecting.

Chiwetel Ejiofor is as dependable as ever, though light on humour, and the likes of Benedict Wong, Michael Stuhlbarg and Benjamin Bratt add texture. Rachel McAdams doesn’t get a lot to do in a pretty thankless role.

Standouts are easy to guess. Tilda Swinton is perfect in the part of The Ancient One, she was pretty much born to play an inscrutable immortal with a wry smile. And Mads Mikkelsen gives his all as a bit of a baddie, fighting and quipping and being generally delicious.

On the humour, Doctor Strange has much more of it than I was expecting but it rarely feels organic. It’s like a switch is flipped after the first act and Cumberbatch is suddenly spitting sarcastic one-liners, minutes after an existential crisis.

That slightly awkward tone pervades the film, of pieces not quite coming together. The story is undercooked and the characters vaguely sketched, with little real personality. Between set pieces (which are often stunning in an Inception sort of way) the audience is left to wonder when things will actually come to a head.

They do eventually but for once this is a film which could have used a little more running time. It’s also oddly light on connections to the wider Marvel-verse - bar a mention or two. That’s refreshing in a sense, this is the most self-contained solo film in years, but it doesn’t feel like this particular void has been filled with much of consequence.

If that sounds rather negative it isn’t meant to- Doctor Strange is an entertaining film and sure to delight fans of the cast. But it does feel quite by the numbers, another origin story for a character who will be cape-flying through an Avengers film in due course.

Come and bask in the spectacle, have a giggle or two and reacquaint yourself with the wonders of Tilda Swinton. Mostly I’m now looking forward to seeing Stark and Strange face off in an epic quip-battle.

-Daniel Anderson

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