The juggernaut that is Marvel Studios sets out with its latest instalment about the origins of Steven Strange, sorcerer supreme, Doctor Strange, directed by Scott Derrickson, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen, Benedict Wong, Rachel McAdams, Michael Stuhlbarg.
You’ve got to love a new Marvel film release, right? Well not always but Doctor Strange definitely isn’t an exception to the rule, with it being well directed, entertaining and engaging, Marvel has clearly perfected its formula for engaging, humorous and engrossing films but they’ve also essentially perfected the art of the origin story for their characters in film. First of all, the casting, the film boasts a great cast with some really top class talent on display here, not strange (pun intended) for a Marvel film but they really nail it, Cumberbatch is a brilliant Steven Strange, adeptly displaying his initial arrogance, intellect and drive, while Ejiofor embodies the rigid and focused Mordo, while maybe not so surprisingly and despite controversy, Tilda Swinton is awesome as the ancient one.
The casting plays a big role in any comic book film adaptation as fans crave accurate, faithful depictions of their favourite characters and it works to the films credit that Marvel got it so right, they all work of each other really well, with Ejiofor and Cumberbatch really bringing their A-Game, elevating a few scenes to theatre like calibre with their intensity and experience. The chemistry is definitely there between Mordo and Strange and Wong at that, which makes for a fun almost buddy adventure type story, though that’s not strictly how things play out. The plot moves at a fairly fast pace once things get going and does jump around a fair but, which may be a bit annoying for some, as will be the familiar feeling to some plot events, Marvel has mastered their formula in origin films but predictably, parts do feel a bit formulaic but that being said, the story presents an easy to follow narrative which only gets more entertaining as it goes on.
Your traditional origin story is present with the tropes you’d expect – arrogant main character gets brought down to earth and sees the error of his ways (sort of with Strange) but there’s something different with Doctor Strange in the way it’s presented, with the mystical arts and magic for one of course, fully opening a new realm to the MCU and with the types of enemies and threats now facing Earth. The film is definitely a breath of fresh air, akin to Guardians of the Galaxy in terms of taking a tangent from Civil War and The Avengers in terms of plot and superhero antics. And with new territory comes new ideas, magic as it turns out bring some pretty trippy, mind bending effects which play out in some pretty exciting set pieces, from cities and buildings folding in on themselves to exploring astral and extra dimensional planes, some scenes are a visual feast based on the artwork of the characters creator – Steve Ditko and are brilliantly artistic and expressive on the screen.
That magical element adds to the action as well, making for some viscerally trippy action sequences, which do evoke scenes from Inception at times but again, feel uniquely like Doctor Strange, this isn’t necessarily an action film per se but the fight sequences are well done. Doctor Strange is a great origin story, well paced, entertaining and engrossing with some brilliant visuals, the casting is spot on and the story is told in a easy to follow manner which shows Marvels deft touch in making origin stories, while not Marvels best, it’s a strong new entry and represents the higher calibre that Marvel is working at now with the films.
. Great casting choices and performances
. Has some fantastic visuals
. Suffers form Marvels weak villain problem – though Kaecillius is arguably sympathetic