Doctor Strange

 

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Think Inception on steroids and you get a sense of the virtual virtuosity of this mind-blowing, often hilarious superhero romp.

 

Doctor Strange
   

That’s Stephen Strange, Dr Stephen Strange. A superstar of the operating theatre, Dr Strange is a New York neurosurgeon and master of his own universe. But alongside his ambition lies also arrogance and stubbornness. And in his quest to further his own reputation, he makes a miscalculation that almost ends his life – and destroys his career. So he embarks on a quest to heal his body and in so doing discovers a world beyond his comprehension…

 

The Avengers ensemble (Iron Man, The Hulk, Captain America – that lot) protect our world from physical danger, but there are other threats out there that they don’t even recognise. Enter Doctor Strange, the latest in Marvel Comics’ page-to-screen protagonists, who takes the series in a whole new direction. As the possibilities of CGI expand exponentially, so the superhero genre finds itself in a golden age. Long gone are the flying hunks embodied by George Reeves and Christopher Reeve – a new breed of champion is here, played by interesting, complex actors. When Heath Ledger won an Oscar for playing The Joker, the stage was set for a new age of superhumanity, with the likes of Christiane Bale, Michael Fassbender, Mark Ruffalo and Jennifer Lawrence entering the fray.

 

After the meta-antics of Ryan Reynolds in this year’s outrageously entertaining Deadpool, we now have perhaps the quirkiest, most engaging superhero of all. And while Benedict Cumberbatch brings his usual intensity to the role of the imperious Doctor, the film is packed with other virtues, too: a cracking script, a terrific score from Michael Giacchino, enough metaphysical musings to accommodate Stephen Hawking and lashings of humour. And for those baffled by the concept of alternate dimensions, there are visual effects to detonate your hippocampus. Think Inception on steroids and you may just begin to get the picture.

 

Starting with images of London streets folding in on themselves, the film jumps across the planet and into the far reaches of space-time continuum, a domain of infinite realities. It’s heady stuff, but the one-liners keep the film grounded in a universe we can recognise and laugh at. When Strange is introduced to a Master of the Mystic Arts called Wong, he asks if that’s it. “Just Wong? Like Adele? Aristotle? Eminem?”

 

The supporting cast is also ace, with none other than Chiwetel Ejiofor as another mystic warrior, Mads Mikkelsen as a man of inestimable evil and Tilda Swinton as a high priestess with some mind-blowing views: “What if I told you the reality you know is one of many?” There are certainly a number of levels to Doctor Strange, enough to reward multiple viewings of the film.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Michael Stuhlbarg, Benjamin Bratt, Mads Mikkelsen, Tilda Swinton, Scott Adkins, Meera Syal.

 

Dir Scott Derrickson, Pro Kevin Feige, Screenplay Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill, Ph Ben Davis, Pro Des Charles Wood, Ed Wyatt Smith and Sabrina Plisco, Music Michael Giacchino, Costumes Alexandra Byrne.

 

Marvel Studios-Walt Disney Pictures.

114 mins. USA. 2016. Rel: 25 October 2016. Cert. 12A.