We are all wondering the same thing at this point, well, if you read the press we all are anyway. Just how many superheroes are there and how long can they keep releasing superhero films for? Marvel, the people who are currently at the forefront of this universe, aren’t showing any signs of slowing down and have now released their newest superhero: Doctor Strange.
Doctor Strange tells the story of former neurosurgeon Dr. Stephen Strange, played by Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock Holmes, The Imitation Game) who, after a rapid car accident, ends up with lasting nerve damage in his hands which means they shake uncontrollably. This, inevitably, leads to him not being able to do his job anymore and therefore trying to find anyway to reverse the method.
He hears of a man who, despite being paralysed from the chest down, one day walked past the physiotherapist. He tracks him down and is told to go on a journey of healing which, as an egotistical, stubborn surgeon, you might say he struggles with. His journey leads him to Kathmandu where he finds a world of secrets, magic, mystery and alternative dimensions which he must come to accept.
First off you have to say well done to Marvel for pulling together such a stellar cast. Besides Mr. Cumberbatch you’ve got Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave, The Martian) as Mordo, Tilda Swinton (We Need to Talk About Kevin, Moonrise Kingdom) as The Ancient One and Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale, Men & Chicken) as Kaecilius. There is no doubt that having such fantastic actors helps the movie a great deal. Although, having said that, you are itching to see Mikkelsen, Ejiofor and Swinton a little more than you do. But it is difficult introducing a character, making a story to show what they can do and keeping it all flowing and interesting.
Support comes from Rachel McAdams (Sherlock Holmes, Mean Girls) as Christine Palmer, who has obviously been in a relationship of sorts with Strange and is now an ER nurse/doctor at the same hospital, and Benedict Wong (The Martian, Prometheus) who stars as the imaginatively titled Wong. Both of these characters suffer from not enough screen time and not enough character development and are on the periphery until they are needed.
Behind the camera, and on co-writing duties, we have Scott Derrickson which, given his credits include the remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still (and Sinister), does a brilliant job. On co-writing duties are Jon Spaihts (Prometheus, Passengers) and C. Robert Cargill (Sinister, Sinister 2). Together, the three of them have created a brilliantly fast-paced, visually stunning movie. The effects are really very good. Sure, there’s more than a hint of Inception about the building scenes and some of the ‘magic’ can feel a little Harry Potter at times but the visual effects elevate it greatly.
There’s also a nice hint of humour throughout, mostly from Strange himself. He is a dry, sarcastic character who you may say Cumberbatch was born to play, particularly if you’ve seen him in the Sherlock Holmes series. He never takes the situation that seriously and this is brought out more in his ancient artefact that ‘selects’ him.
We have come to accept that, on the whole, Marvel are excellent at introducing new characters to the film universe. They just get it. They know there needs to be some back story but let’s not dwell on it too much and crack on with things. With Doctor Strange however, they may just have found a new blueprint for introducing new characters. Stellar cast, strong script and stunning effects – what more do you want in a superhero film? Just let us see a little more of the strong cast do what they do best next time please.