2016 – USA
Director – Scott Derrickson
Starring – Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Mads Mikkelsen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong
Words – Joe H.
Over the years there have been some mind-bending Doctor Strange comic book stories that have redefined the boundaries of the Marvel Universe, with adventures not limited to our world or the realms of reality.
Dr. Stephen Strange is a neurosurgeon at the top of his game, with an ability only matched by his ego.
After a car accident nearly kills him and takes away the use of his hands, leaving him unable to perform operations, he puts everything he has into finding a treatment that will restore him to his former life.
It’s during his months of undergoing various operations with no success, that he learns of a man who years earlier had a seemingly miraculous recovery from similar injuries, which is where his search for a medicine that will heal him then takes him to Nepal.
Upon finding a mysterious enclave he meets the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), who shows him that there are an infinite number of dimensions and that our own reality can be manipulated.
It’s during his training in the mystical arts he learns that the group is in a battle against unseen dark forces, and that former master Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelson) is set on destroying our world.
As he trains to become a sorcerer and learns to hold a new power in his hands, it isn’t long before Strange is forced to choose between his old life or one where he defends the world as one of the most powerful sorcerers in existence.
There are some impressive action set-pieces throughout this feature with a kinetic flow of sorcery and martial arts, amped up by some pretty spectacular special effects (at times feeling like an Inception based adrenaline rush), growing ever more mind-bending as the story goes on into a completely out of this world climax.
The journey of our central character does however feel as though it’s set in motion a little too quick and easy – after finding the man who recovered from similar injuries he seems far too ready to just divulge information to Strange about mystic healing (while obviously knowing what power and risk lies at the other side).
Some of the more die-hard Marvel fans may feel a little dissapointed, as this doesn’t quite stack up against other comic book blockbusters (especially in the year where we saw Captain America: Civil War), but as the mystic side of Marvel’s multi-dimensional cinematic universe is expanded, there are a couple of nods to the wider crossover stories here (an infinity stone, and a post credits scene featuring one of the Avengers), so it will be interesting to see how the character slots in to forthcoming superhero outings.
An alternative to the usual comic book fare in a year which has seen more superhero blockbusters than ever, it’s a pretty entertaining feature.