Story: Brilliant, yet arrogant surgeon Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), falls from grace after a car accident leaves him with broken hands. When conventional medicine fails to heal him, his search for a miracle cure leads him into a magical realm that defies the laws of physics, in the latest superhero entry from Marvel Studios.
Review: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” quoted by Arthur C. Clarke (author, ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’), is the underlying mantra of this film, as it blends theories of consciousness with quantum physics to explain the mystical abilities of sorcery. The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has touched on this before with the ‘Thor’ series, but the science fiction is pushed a couple of notches higher to intergalactic heights here. And yet, there’s ample space and time for humour, visual gags, even some subtle slapstick that puts this entry well beyond some of its predecessors.
In a stroke of casting genius, Benedict Cumberbatch embodies Doctor Stephen Strange, who not only looks the part, but also embraces the quirkiness of the character. Chiwetel Ejiofor as the noble guide Baron Mordo and Tilda Swinton’s ethereal turn as The Ancient One weave their supreme acting magic into this ‘strange’ origin tale. However, the Marvel slate has a cursory problem with their big screen supervillains, and while Mads Mikkelsen projects his menacing, enigmatic best as Kaecilius, his antagonist motives are loosely strung, as is Rachel McAdams’ turn as the superfluous ‘will they, won’t they’ love interest. Furthermore, the ‘apocalyptic’ plot plays out relatively formulaic, even if it’s unpredictable. This doesn’t diminish the astonishing graphics though – not only does the technical wizardry exemplify the multidimensional aspects, but also permits you to absorb these other-worlds with mind-bending CGI. ‘Doctor Strange’ manages to visually transcend several genre-defining movies (like ‘Interstellar’ & ‘Inception’), and some of its MCU siblings (the ‘Thor’ series, ‘Ant-Man’ & ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’), by showcasing psychedelic realities that could (probably) exist, while being vital to the plot.
With the constant barrage of superhero films, one would think the eventual decline of caped crusaders is inevitable. That might (arguably) be the case, but the MCU shows no signs of releasing comic book fans from their spell, as ‘Doctor Strange’ elevates yet another relatively unknown Marvel character to top tier status, making it well worth a dizzying watch in 3D.