★★★★★ – “Visually, think Nolan’s Inception mixed with Kubrick’s 2001, but on a serious acid trip.”
Doctor Strange is written & directed by Scott Derrickson and stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Mads Mikkelsen, Tilda Swinton, Michael Stuhlbarg and Benjamin Bratt.
A former neurosurgeon embarks on a journey of healing only to be drawn into the world of the mystic arts.
Expand Your Mind. This tagline defines the film perfectly. Marvel’s Doctor Strange takes us beyond our world and explores the many alternate dimensions, using phenomenal visuals to further expand the Cinematic Universe.
In some ways this film feels secluded and disconnected from the MCU, yet it features the familiar wit and style of previous instalments. It’s satisfying to experience something so vastly different to what we’ve seen before with such an incredible array of colour and critique. The history feels real, the set pieces and locations feel real, and most importantly, the characters feel real. This film is so refreshingly short and sweet, allowing for a more immersive experience, without any feeling of painstaking pacing issues.
Cumberbatch is surprisingly brilliant as Stephen Strange, a substantial amount of importance is present in his performance. It seems we have another comical addition to the MCU, with Strange being similar to Tony Stark. His humour is sharp and well-timed, but in no way detracting from the dark quality of this film. Tilda Swinton plays a mysterious character named ‘The Ancient One’ who reveals to Strange the unseen powers beyond our dimension, with wonderful charisma. Wong, as Wong, delivers many humorous opportunities for Strange, and thus becoming a recurring back-and-fourth. Kaecilius isn’t developed enough as a character to be judged to a huge extent, however Mikkelsen’s performance is satisfactory. McAdams co-stars with a fairly underwhelming act but has some good moments. Hopefully her character will be developed in the future to give McAdams some room to expand on the background and ongoing relationship with Strange.
’Expand’ seems to be a recurring theme, doesn’t it?
Leading me to the original score by Michael Giacchino, which is somewhat memorable if only because the main theme is cutting undeniably close to his work on Star Trek. The other pieces are fitting but I felt a more ancient approach could have been taken, in order to branch out the theme of the entire film. However, there are some beautiful string arrangements, which is always the case with Giacchino. I wouldn’t expect much more from a Marvel soundtrack, though at least it feels like they’re trying to push in a more appealing direction.
Speaking of new directions, the visual effects are stunning. This is a visual spectacle, a masterpiece. The MCU has never looked so beautiful, vibrant and alive. With Strange’s new metaphysical abilities, we can see the world in a new light. Think Nolan’s Inception mixed with Kubrick’s 2001, but on a serious acid trip. The Art Direction is impeccable and everyone from the Art, Sound, Special and Visual Effects departments should be extremely proud of their work. This is captured and showcased superbly by Ben Davis, who has worked on some brilliant projects in the past, including James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014.
Overall, there are some small improvements to be made, but I have no doubt that these will be developed upon in future instalments. These are barely noticeable however, and in no way detract from the amount of fun you will have watching this film.
Verdict; The story is great, the characters are great, but it’s really the visual design and effects featured in Marvel’s superior Doctor Strange that puts the icing on the cake.
Doctor Strange – ★★★★★ (9/10)