DOCTOR STRANGE Spoiler-Free Review; "Unlike Any Other Superhero Movie Seen Before"

DOCTOR STRANGE <font color=red>Spoiler-Free</font> Review; "Unlike Any Other Superhero Movie Seen Before"

For months, we've heard that Doctor Strange will reshape the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it. Does the movie live up to that and deliver a worthy take on the Sorcerer Supreme's origin?

Doctor Strange is one of those characters who it wouldn't have been possible to imagine being brought to the big screen just a few years ago, but a string of successes for Marvel Studios has ensured that Kevin Feige and company can do anything they please at this stage. As origin stories go, the movie admittedly follows the basic template we've come to expect, but does so in an interesting enough way that, like Deadpool, it manages to deliver something which still feels relatively fresh and exciting. Neurosurgeon Stephen Strange is arrogant, unlikable, and coldly turns away patients who don't interest him or offer the chance to increase his notoriety. However, after a car accident leaves the wealthy and successful doctor's hands irreparably damaged, he sets off on a journey which ultimately leads him to a mysterious figure known as The Ancient One. It's from here that things get really interesting as Strange discovers that there's a whole multiverse to be explored and powers to be gained which could lead to him regaining the use of his hands or becoming one of the greatest heroes the world has ever known. 

So, like I said, it's fairly standard stuff when it comes to comic book movie origin stories, but the performances and visuals in Doctor Strange ensure that it's elevated from the norm. Benedict Cumberbatch is perfectly cast as the Sorcerer Supreme in training, and he really makes you believe that Strange is someone who could embark on the path he does here. The always excellent Chiwetel Ejiofor also delivers a very layered and interesting performance, while Benedict Wong's Wong has some hilarious scene stealing moments which ensure that he's a character fans are going to want to see a lot more of. Tilda Swinton's Ancient One is also pretty memorable, though perhaps doesn't have the impact many expected when Marvel made that unconventional casting decision. Mads Mikkelsen is on top form, but alas, he's ultimately the latest in a long line of fairly forgettable Marvel movie villains. That's not to say he isn't effective, but Kaecilius is never going to be up there with the likes of Loki and Ultron as one of this world's more memorable bad guys. Unfortunately, despite both doing well with what little they're given, both Rachel McAdams and Michael Stuhlbarg do feel somewhat wasted. 

The visuals for Doctor Strange meanwhile are, well, out of this world. The imagination of director Scott Derrickson (who effortlessly makes makes the leap from lower budget horrors to the blockbuster realm) results in sequences which will leave your jaw on the floor and your fingers frantically clutching on to the arm rests in fear of being sucked right out of your chair to join Strange as he plummets through colourful dimensions and a New York City which is folding in on itself in scenes which make Inception look positively bland in comparison. Unlike the vast majority of comic book movies, there's literally never a moment where the CGI lets Doctor Strange down, and this is a release which is essential viewing on IMAX 3D screens (and a lock for that visual effects Oscar). The fact this is all accompanied by Michael Giacchino's stellar score proves to be the icing on the cake, and we're ultimately left with both the best looking and best sounding blockbuster of 2016. 

As an introduction to Doctor Strange, the movie works perfectly. It's clear that the character is going to become a big part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe moving forward, and the sky really is the limit when it comes to what that will mean both for the Sorcerer Supreme and the rest of the characters who inhabit this world. It's not quite up there with the likes of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy as one of the studio's strongest efforts, but Doctor Strange has opened the door to a new sort of superhero movie, and that's well worth being excited about. The sooner a sequel is announced which will reunite Cumberbatch with Derrickson, the better, especially after a final act which is one of the cleverest and most unique things Marvel has delivered in the past eight years. 

Stylish, visually stunning, and unlike any other superhero movie seen before, Doctor Strange is yet another winner for Marvel Studios. However, as origin stories go, it's closer to Captain America: The First Avenger and Thor than Iron Man and Ant-Man. 

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