DOCTOR STRANGE hasn’t been a film I’ve been looking forward to at all; it hasn’t been on my radar and I really haven’t been that bothered about seeing it. Unusual, considering it’s a Marvel film and I am somewhat of a Marvel fangirl, but there you go. Figure that one out. Despite all this, I obviously went to see it and form my own opinion, and I’m very glad I did. DOCTOR STRANGE is by no means Marvel’s best cinematic outing, but it’s a fun ride that exceeded my self-inflicted low expectations and also made me happy to have pre-ordered the Blu-ray SteelBook.
After a very swanky Marvel Studios introduction, DOCTOR STRANGE gets right down to business and kicks off with a fantastic opening action scene complete with Mads Mikkelsen, Tilda Swinton, and some bizarre bendy buildings. It perfectly sets the scene for what’s to come over the next two hours, and, if that doesn’t draw you into the world of Strange, nothing will.
The plot moves on rather quickly past this point, with Strange’s origin story unravelling at a lightning fast pace. Too fast, perhaps, for newcomers like myself who don’t know the first thing about these characters. I had to pay great attention in order to catch everything and get it right in my head, and I think I’ll definitely benefit from a second viewing somewhere down the line. Also, if this film isn’t a cautionary tale for why you shouldn’t mess with your mobile phone whilst driving, I don’t know what is. Strange’s car crash scene is horrifying to watch, but it doesn’t half hammer the point home that phones plus driving equals very, very bad. Do not try this at home, kids.
One of my initial issues with DOCTOR STRANGE was the casting. I’ve never been a Cumberbatch fan — in all honestly, he annoys me — but he actually does a great job of portraying the arrogant, workaholic Stephen Strange. When he was first announced, I’m pretty sure I audibly groaned, convinced that Sherlock would absolutely ruin this film for me and put me off any Strange sightings. Luckily I didn’t listen to myself and decided to give him the benefit of the doubt, and I was pleasantly surprised with his performance. Mads Mikkelsen, Tilda Swinton and Rachel McAdams all stand out too, and each is well suited to their respective roles. Mikkelsen’s 80s-inspired eyeshadow and stylistic hairdo are by far the most memorable aesthetics, and I’m not sure any other credible actor could have pulled it off as well as he does. Bravo, Mads, bravo. Hannibal would be proud.
DOCTOR STRANGE can’t help but feel a little rushed at times, probably due to the fact that there’s so much origin story to try and fit into such a small amount of time. It’s done well, don’t get me wrong, but there was still room for improvement. The humour is also an aspect of the film that doesn’t quite work as well as I expected, and most of the jokes fall flat. A continuous scene close to the end of the film is the funniest part by a mile, and I could have carried on watching it — it’s very clever and not something I saw coming, which is always a good thing. (Apologies for being deliberately vague, but there are no spoilers here!)
Visually, DOCTOR STRANGE has Marvel’s glossy, finely tuned imprint stamped all over it. I can’t fault the special effects, costumes, set designs, or location settings, and it all looks brilliant. The Inception-style SFX successfully pays homage to Nolan’s film, and, while it’s inevitable for comparisons to be made, they’re visibly unfounded. Both films are wildly different in their look and direction, and both are masters of their craft. So, if it’s more moving cities you want, look no further than DOCTOR STRANGE — you can’t go far wrong with what it has to offer in that department, and it’s a treat of a sight to behold on the big screen.
Overall, DOCTOR STRANGE is a fun superhero film with a difference, and it’s one that I applaud Marvel for making. It’s not their normal fare, but, after successes with the lesser-known Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man characters, the studio is continuing to think outside the box and introduce more obscure stories that may otherwise get overlooked. If it wasn’t for this film, I still wouldn’t know a thing about Stephen Strange and his astral self, so I’m happy to have had the chance to broaden my horizons and meet one of Marvel’s more unusual comic heroes. Oh, and don’t forget to stay for both post-credits scenes. You certainly won’t want to miss the first one!