MOVIE REVIEW: Doctor Strange is out there in a good way

Benedict Cumberbatch in a scene from the movie Doctor Strange.
Benedict Cumberbatch in a scene from the movie Doctor Strange. Jay Maidment

DOCTOR Strange is a very different and exciting direction for Marvel's Cinematic Universe.

There are people with special abilities, epic battles for the future of mankind and a few passing mentions of The Avengers but this film delves into a hidden, mystical world.

Benedict Cumberbatch stars as brilliant neurosurgeon Stephen Strange who, after a car accident, goes in search of any means necessary to heal his hands in the hopes he might return to the operating theatre.

Instead, his search leads him to Nepal and The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), who opens his eyes to other dimensions and how they can be explored using the mystic arts.

These initial scenes between Cumberbatch and Swinton are quite funny.

Tilda Swinton and Chiwetel Ejiofor in a scene from the movie Doctor Strange.
Tilda Swinton and Chiwetel Ejiofor in a scene from the movie Doctor Strange. Jay Maidment

While there has been a furore about Swinton's casting as The Ancient One (in the comics he is an Asian man), she brings an ethereal quality to the role.

It's also refreshing to see a woman kicking butt as the most powerful person in the room.

It's not long before Dr Strange gets caught up in the battle between The Ancient One and her disgruntled former student (Mads Mikkelsen), who steals pages from a forbidden book and begins messing with the fabric of space and time.

Using their powers they jump back and forth between mystical headquarters in London and Hong Kong, battling it out with magical weapons and good old-fashioned punches.

As director Scott Derrickson has said, Doctor Strange is essentially one big mind trip.

Some stunning visuals are used to bring these intangible worlds to life. It's impossible to escape comparisons to the film Inception as city streets are bent and stretched and folded on top of one another.

Chiwetel Ejiofor and Benedict Cumberbatch in a scene from the movie Doctor Strange.
Chiwetel Ejiofor and Benedict Cumberbatch in a scene from the movie Doctor Strange. Marvel

But Doctor Strange takes it to the extreme in a kaleidoscopic effect which is beautiful and even, at times, distracting from the action.

It does take a while to get your head around the fact that people are moving buildings with the swipe of their hand in a plane running parallel to that of the unsuspecting public below.

To be fair, the idea that people can learn to harness the power of other dimensions isn't any more of a stretch than the powers of Hulk or Captain America.

But all of these visually spectacular battles revolve around Strange's own internal one of letting go of his own ego.

Doctor Strange is a different type of superhero for Marvel fans but with all his imperfections perhaps he's a more relateable one too.

And make sure to stick around during the credits for an extra clip teasing Dr Strange's cameo in another upcoming Marvel film.

Doctor Strange

Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Mads Mikkelsen.

Director: Scott Derrickson

Rating: M

Verdict: 4/5 stars

Topics:  benedict cumberbatch doctor strange marvel movies

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