Wonderfully Strange

Let’s cut to the chase. I’ll be seeing this again. If you can do so in 3D, all the better, and if there’s an IMAX in your neck of the woods, I reckon it’s worth the price. Dr Strange, the latest Marvel movie, is a wonderfully mystical journey through alternate dimensions. It’s a special effects extravaganza par excellence, carried along by a sharp script delivered by top actors, and full of thrills and the usual Marvel sense of self deprecating humour.

It tells the story of brilliant but arrogant brain surgeon Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), whose life is turned upside down (literally) after a car crash. Traditional medicine can’t help him, so he seeks otherworldly assistance in the form of The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) in Nepal. So begins his tutelage to become a Master of the Mystic Arts. Along the way he encounters Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who has also been tutored by the Ancient One, Wong (Benedict Wong) and the sorcerer Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) who has been swayed to the dark dimension ruled by Dormammu.

All the actors give performances to enjoy, particularly Cumberbatch and Swinton, and the cast elevates a comic book story to a very satisfying piece of entertainment.

Dr Strange is one of the early creations in the Marvel comic universe, dating back to 1963. So he appeared around the time as the first clutch of Stan Lee’s heroes, like the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man and the Hulk. He’s not been the most prominent or popular figure in the comic world, but in the 21st century Marvel Cinematic Universe, one suspects that could change. This film, as the others which preceded it, cleverly interlocks itself within the cinematic superhero world. As with all the Marvel films, stick around for the whole end credit sequence, to see what I mean.

Of course superhero movies are by no means everyone’s cup of tea, and although generally they’ve made supertankers full of money around the world, some will stay away. I’d suggest this is worth a look even if you aren’t generally interested in this genre. The visual effects truly are jaw dropping. I was concerned that the trailer made it appear the film might be not much more than a copy of Christopher Nolan’s Inception, with its mind-bending moving urban landscapes. But by the time we get to those scenes you’ve already been so dazzled it doesn’t matter.

And more importantly, while the film takes you on an adventure full of drama, it retains a nice comedic touch which tells you that it’s not taking itself overseriously. It’s a tone which Marvel has successfully struck in many of its movies.  Because the character of Dr Strange is not so well known as Spider-Man, X-Men or the Avengers, this film may not score as big at the box office, but I’d place it alongside the first Avengers movie as one of the best from Marvel Studios so far. Go find those 3d glasses and check it out.

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