The latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Doctor Strange brings yet another classic super-hero to the party. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a world-class neurosurgeon, who’s success has made him arrogant and selfish.

After a car accident he is unable to perform surgery and his attempts to heal eventually lead him to The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), who opens his eyes to a world of magic.
Doctor Strange stumbles out of the starting gate with an opening act that doesn’t bring much to the table. The title character initially comes off as little more than a less likeable Tony Stark, and the supporting cast take some time to grow into their roles. Additionally, many of its attempts at humour fall flat. Fortunately though, the further this movie gets into its two-hour runtime the stronger it becomes, with its final impression being that of yet another satisfying epic from Marvel.

The visual effects are some of the most mind-bending ever put to film and ensure that this movie lives u-+p to its name. Initial fears that the visual style would draw too heavily from the likes of Inception are unfounded with Doctor Strange putting enough new spins on these ideas that it successfully crafts its own identity.

Also, this movie has a fascinating final battle sequence which is a very inventive departure from what is usually seen in the genre. Genuinely unexpected and refreshingly original, this finale proves wrong those who believe that super-hero films have nothing new to offer.

Something that the MCU movies have consistently struggled with is a lack of compelling villains, with Tom Hiddleston’s Loki being the only one to leave a lasting impression. Doctor Strange’s main villain Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) doesn’t reach the giddy heights of Hiddleston’s charismatic trickster but is in the upper echelon of MCU baddies.

The initial shortcomings are redeemed by an exhilarating second half which offers some fantastic action sequences, and ends in a clever and satisfying way. The film should please both fans and newcomers alike.

David Craig

[4star]

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