In 2015, Marvel surprised sceptical movie-goers with Ant-Man, a film which proved the powerhouse studio could still combine an unknown character with an apparently mid-tier actor/director combo and somehow produce a winning movie. This year, Doctor Strange is their attempt to do the same thing.
At this point it feels almost moot to say that any doubt in Marvel’s ability to deliver is undeserved. Not only did they put together a typically well-oiled machine of a film, they also managed to produce one which gets some distance away from the homogeneity that has afflicted the studio’s recent offerings – and not just because this one isn’t peppered with gratuitous guest stars.
For Doctor Strange is the first Marvel movie in a while that feels like its own thing. Textually, it’s nothing especially new – it’s Harry Potter by way of Marvel, showcasing a secret world alongside our own where wizards chuck spells around and dabble with weird artifacts while trying to save humanity. So far, so familiar. But aesthetically? Put away your mind-duster because this film’s going to leave your brain cobweb-free for months to come.
For Cumberbatch, above all, this foray into the Marvelverse is a huge and expensive roll of the dice. Thankfully, amid all the film’s wacky-trippy bending of space and time, he manages to steer an ideal path – taking the role seriously but allowing himself to be flummoxed by it, wittily traumatised and taken off-guard.
When traditional treatment can’t fix his body, Strange heads to Nepal in search of alternative medicine and one last shot at getting his groove back. There he meets a secret group of world-protecting sorcerers led by the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), a bald androgynous guru who literally blows his mind and shows Strange the multiverse is bigger than one man.
Strange’s journey to becoming a hero involves magical weaponry and travelling through different dimensions, though he can’t seem to get over himself. “Surrender your ego and your power will rise,” the Ancient One tells Strange. He needs to get it together post haste: Former student Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) and his creepy goon squad have stolen a couple pages from a forbidden magical tome and intend to conjure up an apocalyptically dark situation.
Director Scott Derrickson comes from a tradition of horror, and perhaps that’s why Doctor Strange seems to walk the line between unsettling and awe-inspiring. The visuals are dizzying, and most viewers will forgive the film a lot just because it’s delivering something they haven’t seen before. At times the aggressively kaleidoscopic effects almost hurt things – they occasionally seem to happen just because they can, rather than to serve a story purpose – but the weirdness is also endlessly inviting. Accompanied by Michael Giacchino’s superb lite-prog score, it’s a truly cinematic experience. See it in IMAX. See it in 3D. Plug it directly into your eyes if they’ll let you.
( Source : Variety/IGN )