What’s that you say another Marvel film?! Oh, wait, the film divulges into the mystical arts, now you have my attention…
Charting into unknown territory Marvel’s latest offering deviates from The Avenger’s journey ever so slightly to add another face into the mix. Cue in Doctor Stephen Strange, an arrogant, ambitious, yet extremely successful neurosurgeon who has life exactly where he wants it – and who better to play this man than the actor who has perfected the arrogant charm of a modern Mr Sherlock Holmes, Benedict Cumberbatch. Unfortunately for the doctor a car accident turns his world upside down (no pun intended) leaving his hands severely damaged. This sets Strange on a frantic search to heal his hands and go back to his previous life, of course it was never going to be so simple – I mean this is a Marvel film after all.
By bringing in a new character to the cinematic universe who deals with mystical threats is a breath of fresh air for Marvel, and it continues from Captain America: Civil War as a refreshing watch due to shaking up the expectations of a Marvel film. Marvel fans will be happy as the film still holds on to particular traits of a superhero film, that especially of an introductory one, with the audience following Strange as he slowly masters sorcery, whilst tackling the ‘big bad’ which in this case is Kaecilius played by Mads Mikkelsen, alongside plenty of humour.
This film makes for a bizarre yet fulfilling watch, with mind-bending special effects and illusions echoing that of Christopher Nolan’s Inception (2010), which should not work within a Marvel film, but it is exactly this expectation that shapes the film as its own. The audience is plunged quickly into an environment they recognise, however watch as it is disjointed unnaturally under the rule of these sorcerers, succumbing the audience into sharing the experience with Strange, who at one point quips that his tea might be laced with LSD or other sensory heightening drugs.
Cumberbatch is perfect for the role and makes for a strong lead throughout the film. Even though Cumberbatch is well-known for playing highly intellectual characters, the injection of well-timed comedy makes Strange slightly different and you can tell Cumberbatch had fun playing him. It is a shame Mikkelsen’s character lacks screen time, as his character appears complex and three-dimensional paving way for an intriguing character. However, Mikkelsen excels in the time he has, to no surprise.
Christine, played by Rachel McAdams, is not side-lined entirely as Strange’s ‘on-off girlfriend’, but as someone who challenges his lack of compassion, which is what essentially anchors Strange. Tilda Swinton plays The Ancient One, who also matches Cumberbatch’s comic timing brilliantly, by beating Strange at his own sarcastic games. Strange’s companion Mordo is played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, who would have benefited from more screen-time as well, as his character is an interesting contrast to Strange, demonstrated by his rigidity when it comes to the rules of the mystic arts.
I feel like I do not need to dwell in much detail regarding the special effects, as Marvel are always one top of their game in this area. This film has left me eager to see how Strange will fit into the MCU, and has set the stage for the potential to get even stranger.