The latest offering from the MCU juggernaut, Doctor Strange stars Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role of Stephen Strange (because Marvel’s particularly fond of those alliterative names!), a swaggering, cocksure neurosurgeon who, after a devastating car accident which deprives him of the use of his hands, travels to Nepal in search of a cure and finds a league of shadows sorcerers led by The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) who teach him about different dimensions, multiverses, astral planes and so forth. Together, they fight to prevent Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) from bringing the evil entity Dormammu from the dark dimension and into our universe.

Benedict Cumberbatch takes centre stage in this MCU entry and he definitely doesn’t disappoint; he takes on the role excellently, holding up well in the action sequences as well as delivering the jokes when needed. His character develops very well, believably embracing his newfound abilities while still retaining a certain air of arrogance and uncertainty. Clearly, there is even more opportunity for this character to develop and I hope that we see this in future films. Oh, and the character design is excellent.

There is also very strong support from Chiwetel Ejifor, who excels in his role as Strange’s confidante Mordo, and of course from Tilda Swinton who is an absolute joy to watch as The Ancient One. And the fact that most of the main cast are British makes it all the sweeter!

The mind-bending effects are a large part of Doctor Strange and they are excellent indeed; channelling the likes of Inception‘s city folding and Ant-Man‘s subatomic world, the film is a visual marvel and a joy to watch it all on the big screen. In 3D. The film also carries a definite Harry Potter vibe about it. Well, Strange does seem to be entering Hogwarts for the first time . . .

The story of Doctor Strange introduces the fresh concept of magic, sorcery, different universes and reality-bending to the MCU and this is certainly a fascinating direction that the series has taken. Its meditative, Eastern European philosophies are intriguing and definitely gives the film a unique place in this juggernaut of a film series. It is also good to see that the classic Marvel humour is still there, but that it is not overwhelming or obvious.

As for the negatives, I do agree with the general consensus in that the film’s antagonist is a tad generic, craving immortality and world domination and all that. Even though his primary purpose is to be someone for Strange to fight, he’s definitely not the worst villain that we’ve seen this year, there are far weaker antagonists in the MCU and Mads Mikkelsen gives the role everything he’s got. Plus, Rachel McAdams’ character is a little bland, simply acting as the compulsory love interest, another area where Marvel seems to be falling down.

I am certainly looking forward to seeing more of Strange in the MCU, preferably in a scene where he and Thor have a “cape-off”. And speaking of which, d’ya reckon that cape is somehow related to Aladdin’s Magic Carpet at all?

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An incredibly fresh, imaginative, exciting film with excellent visuals, a strong cast and a fun story. Marvel delivers another hit.

★ ★ ★ ★

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