Doctor Strange is the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe to be released, and it stars Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, The Fifth Estate) in the title role, and is directed by Scott Derrickson.
By my maths, the film is the 14th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), and sees an introduction of not only new characters but also an entire new premise on which battles are won and lost. To quote the film itself;
“The Avengers protect the world from physical dangers.
We safe guard it against more mystical threats”
Cumberbatch plays Dr Steven Strange, a hugely talented surgeon, obsessed by his own greatness. His is in a sort-of relationship with ER Doctor Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams) and is busy building his medical legacy.
That is until he is involved in a car crash that leaves him with career ending injuries to his hands, that even a spiral into experimental medical surgeries are not able to fix. Left with nothing other than a desperation to resume his career, he finds himself turning to a pilgrimage to a rumoured location that may offer a more mystical solution to his problem.
Through this journey he finds himself drawn into a world beyond the world that we know. One of different dimensions, control over the most basic of natural laws, and an evil that transcends the rule of time itself.
Joining him on the journey is the mysterious Karl Mondo (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor), Wong (Benedict Wong) and ‘The Ancient One’ (Tilda Swinton) all playing their roles in the emergence of Strange as a mystical combatant.
The battle that they face, includes Mads Mikkelson as Kaecilius, a former student of the Ancient One, that seeks to call the evil power from the dark dimension that he serves.
So. How’s the actual film?
Its ok. It’s great to see the enigmatic Cumberbatch arriving into the MCU and although the film operates with tales of inter dimensional battles of good and evil, it retains the same sense of humour throughout and that provides a balance to the mind-boggling CGI sometimes at work, whilst allowing Strange to emerge from the egotistical surgeon to a new superhero within the MCU.
I make no secret of the fact that Chiwetel Ejiofor is one of my favourite actors and again he demonstrates his versatility in terms of genre (think Dirty Pretty Things, to Kinky Boots, to Love Actually, to Children of Men). Mikkelson too offers a strong performance as the villain of the pieces although set up as somewhat of a middle man to the real villain – Dormammu.
The CGI is spectacular with huge moments as the universes collide and we see buildings rotating and flipping like an exaggerated version of Inception.
Its a new style of film in the now canon of MCU, with its mystical edge, and retains moments of character and humour even with its shifting universes and heavy CGI. Its not a bad film, infact it’s pretty decent, and yet I can’t help but having felt a little disappointed by the overall delivery. I guess I’d just hoped for more.
I do feel that Cumberbatch’s greatest moments as Doctor Strange are yet to come.