After a tragic car accident, talented neurosurgeon Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), must put his ego aside and learn the secrets of a hidden world of mysticism and alternate dimensions. Based in New York's Greenwich Village, Doctor Strange must act as an intermediary between the real world and what lies beyond, utilising a vast array of metaphysical abilities and artifacts to protect the Marvel cinematic universe.
Review by Louise Keller
Mind-bending effects, jaw-gaping action sequences and a cast with pedigree enable Marvel’s Doctor Strange to soar through its many dimensions and parallel universes to a cinematic 3D Shangri La. Benedict Cumberbatch’s superhero is right up there with the best of them as his arrogant Doctor Stephen Strange surrenders his ego for sorcery skills and becomes caught up in a mystical war fighting for eternal life. Director Scott Derrickson juggles the task of creating a spectacular reality with unlimited possibilities without losing hold of the reigns that drive the personal stories and characters that inhabit them. Hang onto your armrest; it’s time to be blown away. Chances are, you’ll enjoy every moment of the trip!
After a startling opening sequence that rivals Christopher Nolan’s Inception, when a cityscape twists, turns and defies gravity with a kaleidoscopic effect, we meet brilliant neurosurgeon Doctor Strange (Cumberbatch) saving lives in the operating theatre, his egotistical nature at the fore. There is no doubt that when his girlfriend and fellow surgeon Christine (Rachel McAdams) says: ‘Everything is about you,’ she is spot on. The shocking car crash that robs Doctor Strange of his steady hands, leaving him incapable of even shaving, changes everything and without delay, he finds himself in Kathmandu looking for answers.
Tilda Swinton can play anything and here, with sleek, shaved head and measured manner, she is commanding as The Ancient One, an oracle with abilities to manipulate time and create dimensional gateways. A picture paints a thousand words and the hallucinogenic sequences in which she demonstrates to Doctor Strange he needs to ‘open his eyes’ and live above, not lose his demons, are both astonishing and amusing. There is an interesting vibe between Swinton and Cumberbatch as the relationship between them changes and develops. Look out for their exchange on a balcony, when Swinton talks about snowflakes. It is without doubt, the film’s most moving scene.
Chiewetel Ejiofor plays Swinton’s offsider Mordo to great effect, making more of the character than his lines might suggest. And then there is Mads Mikkelsen, the dangerously handsome renegade who has stolen a forbidden ritual and has been seduced by the Dark Side. Mikkelsen is a formidable villain, who oozes with charisma. His eye makeup is bewitching. With such a cast, the content is automatically elevated and the theatrical gravitas, with which the actors deliver the lines, allows even the most unlikely dialogue to make sense. Benedict Wong is fun as the po-faced keeper of Kamar-Taj’s library of mystical tomes.
The film never takes itself too seriously and the script is liberally punctuated by humour. There are some great lines that offer light relief to the dizzying spectacle of special effects. They humanize the characters and endear us to them. I love the scenes in the operating theatre, when Doctor Strange extricates his Astral body from his human form, much to Christine’s amazement. The Groundhog Day moment is also highly memorable. Of course, the big guns are the major action sequences, when perspectives shift, gravity confuses and skyscrapers tumble, invert, twist and split.
Doctor Strange is a Marvel-ous cinematic experience; I can’t wait to see it again!
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DOCTOR STRANGE (M)
CAST: Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton, Mads Mikkelsen, Michael Stuhlbarg
PRODUCER: Kevin Feige
DIRECTOR: Scott Derrickson
SCRIPT: Scott Derrickson, C. Robert Cargill (comic book by Steve Ditko)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Ben Davis
EDITOR: Sabrina Plisco, Wyatt Smith
MUSIC: Michael Giacchino
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Charles Wood
RUNNING TIME: 115 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Walt Disney
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 27, 2016