The Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to grow, with the release of Dr. Strange this week. There has been much anticipation around the latest addition to MCU. We were lucky enough to see it before general release on Friday.
Is the hype justified? Read on below to find out. But be warned, this review does contain mild spoilers!
The storyline centers around Stephen Strange, (Benedict Cumberbatch) a brilliant neuro-surgeon with a massive ego. From the very start, you feel a certain disdain towards him as a character. His transition towards “superhero” begins when, after a high-speed car accident, he loses the use of his hands.
Driven close to madness, after conventional treatments fail him, Dr. Strange finds himself losing his fortune and looking for an alternative way to heal in Nepal. It is here that he encounters the Ancient One, played by Tilda Swinton, and begins to train as a sorcerer.
One of the first things to strike you about Dr. Strange, is the quality of the casting. Tilda Swinton‘s portrayal of the Ancient One is superb, while Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong and Chiwetel Ejiofor are as solid a support cast as you could ask for.
But it’s the performances of Cumberbatch as Dr. Strange, and Mads Mikkelsen as Kaecilius, that standout. The casting of Cumberbatch is perfect for the role of Dr. Strange, where you can see elements of his performances from Sherlock coming through. He plays the role of “cocky rich man” perfectly at the beginning, and embraces the transition into “superhero” with ease. He also pulls off the comedic elements superbly throughout, the interactions with Wong in particular, providing laugh out loud moments. You are left with a feeling that Cumberbatch as Dr. Strange, is as perfect a fit as Robert Downey Jr is as Iron Man.
Mikkelsen was also an inspired choice as Kaecilius, a former student of the Ancient One, turned renegade sorcerer. Mikkelsen has a history of playing sinister roles, both on the big screen as Le Chiffre in Casino Royale, and as Hannibal Lecter on TV. His performance as the villain with a cause in Dr. Strange, is only beaten by Tom Hiddlestone as Loki in the Avengers across any other MCU movie.
While all MCU movies are heavily dependent on effects, Dr. Strange takes it to a whole new level. Within the first 5 minutes, you are treated to a breathtaking fight scene that sets the tone for the rest of the movie. It’s hardly surprising that the sequences throughout are like something out of Inception, on some kind of mystical steroids, given the nature of the storyline. However, the effects are seamless and well conceived, while being ever so slightly over the top.
Final Verdict on Dr. Strange
Marvel have a track record of producing excellent standalone movies within the MCU franchise, like Iron Man and Ant Man. However, Dr. Strange is a cut above both. Cumberbatch plays the role of Stephen Strange to absolute perfection, with a performance to rival anything seen in a Marvel movie before. The supporting cast compliment each other superbly, while the story flows well throughout the 115 minutes of movie time. Add in some eye-watering special effects, and Marvel has another hit on their hands.