As the fourteenth entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, responsible for some of the highest grossing movies of this decade, Doctor Strange had big shoes to fill, although at this point, as proven by Guardians of the Galaxy and Antman, we’ll pay to see anything with the Marvel logo stuck under its title. And whilst Doctor Strange isn’t a great movie, it is a great superhero movie. Some comic-book adaptations come along once in a while which exceed the genre to become great movies. People often cite The Dark Knight or Iron Man (the first!) and Captain America: The Winter Soldier as prime examples of fantastic films, which happen to be about superheroes. Doctor Strange, however, doesn’t reach this high level of praise. It follows the traditional superhero origin story and is easily comparable with the aforementioned Iron Man, telling the story of a wealthy, egotistical genius living a life of excess, who is somehow disabled and, on his journey to heal himself, becomes a better person and has to save the world.
However, this movie tells the story very well (although it wouldn’t have hurt to add a few minutes to the 1hr 55 run-time, especially at the beginning) and doesn’t follow the current tiresome trend of ending with a blue beam in the sky, instead delivering an original and humorous resolution: “Dormammu, I’ve come to bargain!”, which is unfortunately made slightly anti-climactic and less enjoyable by a second-act showdown of badassery in a city folding in on itself, which is as epic as it sounds.
Benedict Cumberbatch is predictably brilliant as the titular character and lends a wonderfully arrogant level of wit to the character, something we have rarely seen him do. The rest of the cast is also outstanding, with Chitewel Ejiofor providing a strong supporting role and a controversially-cast Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One, who nonetheless provides a solid performance. Mads Mikkelsen (once again) plays the villain Kaecilius and is, like all marvel villains apart from Loki, completely underused and underdeveloped, it would have been nice to see more of him.
By far the most impressive thing about this movie are the visuals. It is apparent throughout the entire film that a large part of the budget was spent on its special effects, and not a cent was wasted. As well as being fantastically done, the effects and general visual appearance of this film are unlike any other inside or outside of the MCU. Although many parallels can be drawn with Inception in one scene in particular featured also in the trailer, it is still thoroughly enjoyable.
Overall, Doctor Strange is a very good and entertaining superhero film, even for non-superhero-lovers, capping off a dismal cinematic summer, with a decent plot, superb visuals, great performances and trademark Marvel humour.