It might feel like a case of ‘wheel them in and wheel them out’ with recent Marvel movies. There have been so many with all eventually blurring into each other. Making each different is the key allowing the freshness of a superhero character to remain. ‘Doctor Strange’ is certainly unique with its own vibe. Created by comic book artist Steve Ditko in 1963, its only previous live-action film was a 1978 TV movie. Suitably made-over in the 21st Century, the ‘master of the mystic arts’ arrives with a film sure to bedazzle eager comic enthusiasts.
Injured in a car accident, top neurosurgeon Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) sees his career in ruins. Setting out on a journey of healing, he encounters the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton). Teaching him the ways of magic and mystical powers, she gives him abilities of incredible strength. Facing an evil foe in Kaecillius (Mads Mikkelsen), Strange is put to the test. Aided by fellow doctor Christine (Rachel McAdams), Strange utilises his new skills against the forces of vicious tyranny.
‘Doctor Strange’ is a briskly paced adventure doing justice to the character. Perfectly embodying Strange’s arrogance and eventual humility, Cumberbatch adds nuances. Strange may not be initially likeable and perhaps seems like many people we meet in real life, but we come to understand where his moral compass lies. Cumberbatch adds much pathos and humour to his mystical character with a competent roster of co-stars trying to break free of their potentially one-dimensional roles.
Despite the usual the Marvel movie story-telling mechanics giving an air of familiarity, ‘Doctor Strange’ manages to ease out of this barrier. The concept of magic and the dark arts allows the script to go in many unusual directions. Although you know how it may end, you are never sure what new powers Strange will use to outwit his opponents. The CGI is typically amazing and the action is of an excitingly high eye-popping calibre. Scott Derrickson directs with flair, adding spice whenever scenes appear in danger of slowing.
It’s easy being cynical about Marvel films as they all feel alike. ‘Doctor Strange’ deserves a fair go with its fine performances and interesting ideas effectively expressed. Undoubtedly a sequel will surface making one ‘marvel’ at the enduring success of a comics company beginning decades ago.
Movie Review Rating out of 10: 7
Movie Review by Patrick Moore
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