I’ve become a fan of the ever expanding Marvel universe. The films have been growing at an alarming rate and this has allowed a playful inter-mingling of various different superheroes and storylines. Doctor Strange is the latest addition to this ever expanding ensemble of heroes and Scott Derrickson’s film does not disappoint.
The film starts in Dr. Strange’s (Benedict Cumberbatch) hospital. He is a gifted neurosurgeon, renowned for his steady hands and intelligence. Moreover, it is obvious he also has a reputation for his confidence and ego. Shortly after we are introduced to both his profession and his love interest, Christine (Rachel McAdams), Strange is in a car accident. As a result, his surgical capabilities are left completely shot.
Strange struggles to find doctors that will take risks to cure his ailments. As all else fails and his monetary supplies begin to wane, he hears of one last place that may cure him. A source directs him towards Kamar-Taj in Nepal. With nothing left to loose, he flies to Kathmandu to find a magical, eastern cure. He eventually finds Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who takes him to the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton). Strange is initially sceptical and rude about the Ancient One’s power and practices. However, he soon believes her and she eventually agrees to enroll him in her training for the mystic arts. Strange uses his intelligence and work ethic to quickly discover his ability to practice the mystic arts.
However, like all superhero movies, there simply must be a villain. Doctor Strange and his teachers are confronted by Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen). It is up to those under the Ancient One’s tutelage to stop his plans.
One of the strongest features of this film is Strange’s storyline. If we look at other superhero narratives, a person’s powers usually derive from either a science, another world or they are simply born with it. Strange learns his powers from an ancient, eastern practice – I haven’t seen a superhero film like this before. An integral part to any good superhero movie is the depiction of their rise to power – Strange’s one is certainly different and very interesting.
Despite these merits, Strange’s backstory also works against the film as well. Regular films usually have to be somewhere between 90 and 120 minute slots. Derickson abided by these rules as his latest Marvel instalment lasted 115. This meant he had to balance Strange’s backstory, an unexplored supernatural power and the villain’s storyline. With all this going on, an additional 20 minutes would have improved the film. In particular, I was left wanting a more in depth exploration of Strange’s training and rise to power, or at least a better indication of the time and effort that had elapsed as Strange learnt his craft.
In spite of this criticism, Doctor Strange is still a good film. It is certainly not one to miss if you are a superhero movie buff, but I honestly can’t fathom a specific type of person who wouldn’t enjoy this film. It is interesting, action-packed and, at times, quite funny. I only wish that Cumberbatch wasn’t made to put on an American accent – it’s unnerving after seeing him in so many British roles!