Doctor Strange review Benedict Cumberbatch relishes an eyepoppingly freaky extravaganza

Marvels latest yarn features the Sherlock star as a surgeon who battles evil with the help of martial arts, knuckle dusters and a mysterious ancient guru

Like his near-namesake Strangelove, this is a character in touch with vast elemental powers and who also makes a miraculous recovery from apparently irreversible disability. Doctor Strange, the newest Marvel superhero, stars in a movie that, perhaps due to misalignments in the multiverses space-time parameters, comes too late to be the summer smash of 2016. This exotic action-adventure is very entertaining nonetheless: an eye-poppingly freaky extravaganza with city-folding moments of surreality comparable to Christopher Nolans Inception; yet it wears its digital accomplishment a bit more lightly. Marvel supremo Stan Lee is to be glimpsed making a cameo on a city bus, chuckling over a copy of Huxleys Doors of Perception the closest the film comes to advocating illegal drug use.

Doctor Strange is played with deadpan theatrical relish by Benedict Cumberbatch; and though his intellectual glamour never quite reaches Sherlockian heights, its a much more enjoyable and satisfying character for him than John Harrison, the shady figure from Star Trek Into Darkness. Strange is a man of science who overcomes his foolish egotism and rationalism to become champion-warrior of the astral plane. He exchanges a neurosurgeons scrubs for a velvety neo-Edwardian uniform with an occult medallion and high pointy collars, accessorised with a fierce goatee, like a glam rock vocalist who yearns to do a magic act in Vegas. Spirit and flesh are in harmony. His superhero name is the same as his civilian name. Only a Dawkinsian rationalist will appreciate the poignancy of this escapist fantasy.

Doctor Strange: trailer for film starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Marvels Sorcerer Supreme

His superpowers begin, of course, with a terrible accident. But he still has to seek them out. Dr Stephen Strange is a brilliant, hardworking, temperamental surgeon in a Manhattan hospital, who has become wealthy and big-headed, a man who likes to savour his choice of luxury watch before heading out to the black-tie dinner where he is the keynote speaker. He is a mix of Tony Stark and Hugh Lauries cantankerous medic Dr House. He is contemptuous of his lesser, envious colleagues, such as Dr Nicodemus West (Michael Stuhlbarg), and he carries a faint torch for a woman he once dated: Dr Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams).

A terrible, life-changing accident means Dr Strange must take a journey to Nepal, where he has heard that there is a guru or necromancer, or cult leader who can restore his physical abilities. This is the mysterious Ancient One, played with shaven-headed charismatic blankness by Tilda Swinton; she is attended by her other students Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Wong (Benedict Wong). But it soon becomes clear, once he has learned to get over himself, that Stranges destiny is far greater than returning to boring old surgery. He is a natural master, and he must join the Ancient One in the battle against her other student, Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), who has gone over to the dark side.

The
The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) and Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch). Photograph: 2016 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

Im a massive sucker for teacher-pupil learning scenes that combine enigmatic quietness with a highly skilled martial arts. Swintons outrageously watchable scenes with Cumberbatch reminded me in the best possible way of Caines classic pronouncement in Kung Fu: You think wisdom is a flower for you to pluck. It is a mountain and it must be climbed. It also called to mind Bruce Lees great scene in Enter the Dragon with a cowering teenage pupil who, after having duly received the masters smackdown, is told: We need emotional content. Not anger!

The Ancient One takes Strange on a journey down the rabbit hole of space and time toward enlightenment. She provides him with a handheld implement that resembles a knuckleduster rather than a magic wand and tells him the skills she is teaching him are almost what lesser types call spells.

Its a tremendously engaging and likable superhero ride, in which the classiest of casts show they know exactly where to take it seriously and where to inject the fun.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/oct/24/doctor-strange-review-benedict-cumberbatch-marvel-eyepoppingly-freaky-extravaganza

The post Doctor Strange review Benedict Cumberbatch relishes an eyepoppingly freaky extravaganza appeared first on Safer Reviews, Unbiased & Independent Reviews..

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