Stunning visuals accompany you as you follow Dr Steven Strange as he, along with the audience, is told to “forget everything they know”.
For Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) this means a new way of looking at the world; for us it means a new way of looking at Marvel films.
After the cast-heavy Captain America: Civil War earlier this year, the gripping and intelligent portrayal of Strange shows us why we should be interested in yet another new character that is changing the way we see comic book films.
“Limitless-meets-Inception visuals brilliantly introduce a new element into the otherwise paint-by-numbers format we have become accustomed to “
Cumberbatch is encapsulating throughout, showing his dramatic range and ensuring you are fully invested in the transition from high-flying neurosurgeon to humble pupil of The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton).
Performances from Swinton, as well as Mads Mikkelsen and Chiwetel Ejiofor, coupled with truly remarkable Limitless-meets-Inception visuals, enjoyed fully in 3D, brilliantly introduce a new element into the otherwise paint-by-numbers format we have become accustomed to in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
This film is a leap forward in the MCU but that’s not to say it doesn’t come with the typical Marvel tropes: both good and bad. There is a plethora of dry humour – something Cumberbatch’s smarter-than-you performance naturally lends itself to – and, in what is fairly common for Marvel creations, a pretty forgettable villain.
Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), is largely underdeveloped and we are never really given a real explanation as to his motives, likely due to the fact that the film is already very exposition-heavy.
Despite its distinct Marvelyness, it will be enjoyable for audiences not as accustomed to the wider Avengers universe.
It has the advantage of being a self-explanatory, self-contained, standalone film, for the time being at least, and the direction of Scott Derrickson, better known for working in horror, adds a darker tone to what could easily have been another bright, block-colour bore.
This film is by far the closest match from Marvel to the revered Dark Knight trilogy form rival studio DC, and is in fact at lot closer to that magic than DC themselves are managing to get these days.
All in all, Dr Strange is an exciting step forward for the MCU and for the wider genre. Jaw-dropping visuals and compelling performances allow you to excuse any imperfections and just enjoy the ride, and then come away hungry for what Marvel has to offer next.