Paging Doctor Strange...

Please note the review below may contain minor spoilers - I've done my best to keep them to a minimum.

Itís time to don your old robes and dust off those spellbooks, no, Iím not talking about the latest iteration in the Harry Potter franchise, but the next instalment within the Marvel Cinematic Universe (or MCU for short), as Doctor Strange makes his stage debut, from horror-hardened writer and director Scott Derrickson - best known for the Sinister franchise.

Doctor Strange opens in Nepal, as a group of what look to be rejects from The Last Airbender movie - led by a man named Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) - sneak into a library in order to steal a particular spell from an ancient tome.

After relieving the librarian of his head - the poor guy was on minimum wage too - the group are chased through multiple locales by a Jean-Luc Picard cosplayer (Tilda Swinton) later referred to as ĎThe Ancient Oneí.

Unfortunately the rest of her crew are currently out on an away mission, leading the nefarious group to escape with the seemingly important book page.

Back in New York - a world away from the very idea of teleportation and magic - is Doctor Strange himself (Benedict Cumberbatch), a world renowned surgeon with an ego to match, treating his co-workers and love interest (Christine played by Rachel McAdams) with barbed indifference.

That all comes to a literal crashing halt though, awakening after an accident with a now broken body and his surgical career now a mere footnote in the rear-view mirror; leading Doctor Stephen Strange to begin his single-minded quest in order to repair himself. But when all western procedures and medicine fail him, he looks east towards Nepal with the promise of a miracle cure.

Much like Thor I was very curious to see how Disney intended to translate Doctor Strange on the big screen, and whilst a few of my questions were satisfactorily cleared up, others still remain to be answered.

Firstly, rest assured that much like Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Benedict Cumberbatch perfectly encapsulates Stephen Strange - bringing a lot of his renowned portrayal of Sherlock with him - quirks and all. With a performance that from the offset has you convinced this man is exactly whom he portrays, allowing you to instantly buy into his incredulity at the Ďmagic pillí being offered before him - joining the ranks of Sorcerers - which goes against everything his learned mind has come to rely upon.

Likewise the special effects in Doctor Strange are truly not of this world - if you were impressed by 2010ís Inception then be prepared to be blown away in Doctor Strange - with the world shifting and unravelling before you like a kaleidoscope, to create some truly spectacular and mind boggling action scenes leaving you forgetting to blink and wondering if youíre high right now.

Doctor Strange - (Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen and Tilda Swinton)

Itís a shame then, that they didnít also take notice of the strict in-film laws - that were established for those dream-like sequences - from the aforementioned Inception, with the magic in Doctor Strange - other than a very early scene - becoming a mere plot Ďcure-allí, that akin to a rabbit pulled from a hat is revealed to solve any and all situations, leaving not only a very murky impression of what Doctor Strange is actually capable of, but failing to creating any kind of heightened stakes - with the audience knowing one magic trick is simply a mere scene away to solve it all.

If youíve enjoyed more recent Marvel iterations - especially origins stories such as Ant-Man - then youíll be glad to know that Doctor Strange not only blends that same humour but plot structure too, permeating that same feeling which has now become commonplace within the Marvel superhero genre. And whilst many may indeed be looking for something fresh, you unfortunately wonít find it in Doctor Strange, merely a recreation of everything that has come before but with a shiny new coat of paint. This is made all the more clear by contracting the same disease - a poor villain - with Mads Mikkelsen as the films nemesis, just being completely underdeveloped, with reasoning that truly needs magic to convey him to an audience as a believable character.

Whilst itís unclear right now how well Doctor Strange will mix within the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe - other than a small mid-credit scene showcasing the only glimmer - with the potential to make heroes, villains and ultimately super powers as an idea, a moot point. With his mind-bending, reality shifting abilities on full display, we may indeed be asking ourselves in future Marvel releases - as our heroes come up against even greater odds - ďwhy donít they just call Doctor Strange to sort all of this mess out?Ē.

But as a standalone film, Doctor Strange continues the quality pattern of Marvel offerings, presenting a similar, almost clone-like structure to its predecessors, adopting both the good and bad - that at this point has become a signature - but with some mind blowing visual effects up its sleeves and a lead performance from Benedict Cumberbatch that once again truly encapsulates his Marvel comics character.

If youíre a fan of superhero films in general, then youíll definitely want to check out Doctor Strange, but if the genre hasnít drawn you in thus far, then Doctor Strange will do little to change that for you.

  • Review by
    David Robinson

    Twitter: @5ypher

    Posted on
    26th october 2016

  • 3 Out of 5 Stars
  • Films magical rules not well established

    Poor villain

  • Benedict Cumberbatch

    Visual effects


Film Info

Doctor Strange Doctor Strange
Rating: 12A
Release Date: 25th October
Runtime: 1 hr 55 mins
Director: Scott Derrickson
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton, Mads Mikkelsen & Rachel McAdams

  • Thor
  • Ant-Man
  • Iron Man

Yes, whilst there are plenty of deaths, many are inferred off screen or contain no blood.

Contains both a mid-credit and end-credit sequence.

Star Benedict Cumberbatch was the first choice to play the role, but initially had to decline the role of Doctor Strange, but when the movie got pushed back several months he was able to commit.