Doctor Strange - This Movie Rocks Into The Mystic
Dir: Scott Derrickson
Starring Sherlock Bandicoot, Chewetel Ejiorfor, Tilda Swinton, Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelson, Benedict Wong, Michael Stuhlbarg, Benjamin Bratt
For those worrying that Marvel Studios may well be content to rest on their considerable laurels, with the screen introduction of their latest hero they open up not only a whole other universe, but a whole other multiverse! Doctor Strange is your entry drug to the spiritual side of the Mighty World of Marvel, and whilst this may not always be as satisfying as some of their efforts (this is the year of Civil War after all) it’s a whole new trip you’d be wise to take.
Sherlock Bandicoot is the brilliant neurosurgeon with a God-like arrogance issue who learns that playing with your phone and driving at great speed are not a good combo. Left with his once glorified hands in tatters, he turns to the East in search of some form of redemption – and finds it in the teachings of the Ancient One (an excellent baldy Swinton.) Here he learns there is more to this universe than he ever imagined – cue the psychedelia and the falling buildings. Although, in this case, the buildings are not just falling from standard issue superhero movie mass destruction – they’re bending, twisting, contorting and rebuilding themselves in genuinely spectacular fashion.
This particular visual trope may well takes its FX-cue from Nolan’s Inception, but what Derrickson does here goes far beyond that. As these supreme sorcerers reshape the world around them, you will be left slack jawed not just at the imagination of such building-reinvention, but by how beautiful it looks.
And if manipulation of our world wasn’t enough, the movie takes us firmly into the multiverse (briefly visited in Ant Man) that bears just enough of a resemblance to artist Steve Ditko’s panels from the original 1960s comics to keep even the die-hardest of the die hard happy. Dr Strange’s first imposed visit to that vista – the Ancient One literally throws him into it – is a hugely inventive, visually stunning, brilliantly designed – well, there’s no other word for it – trip.
It’s one of the things that sets Doctor Strange apart in the MCU. It may well be an origin story, but it’s visual sense is anything but familiar. References to the Avengers, Thor in particular (if you hang around long enough) establish Stephen Strange as part of that world, but this first movie also expands that ever-expanding world in very significant ways. And given that we now know Strange is due to pop up in at least two more Marvel movies in the near future (there's talk of infinity stones!), this move into the mystic is very likely to be shaping all our cinema visits for some time to come.
It also has the saving grace of knowing when humour is needed, and how to make it funny (yes, DC – we’re looking at you!)
Overall, the movie is not up there with the best of Marvel’s work to date (did we mention Civil War already?) and suffers from the exposition-heavy needs of any origin film. It is still as accomplished and entertaining as we now not just expect, but demand, from Marvel Studios. And manages to be original as well.
In a year chock-full o’ superhero movies, Doctor Strange reminds us why we shouldn’t accept dross like Suicide Squad.
Make Ours Marvel. Still.
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