Director: Scott Derrickson
The more and more of these comic book adaptions that Marvel push out of its factory doors the harder it becomes to write a review that isn’t just a copy and paste of your last Marvel review with a few name changes here and there, some plot adjustments and then a few changes in cast members. The latter of those elements becoming less and less necessary the more crossovers there are.
Like with all the first chapters of any of the Marvel superheroes, it starts with a personal disaster, an accident or an emotional scarring that leaves the main protagonist looking for a way back to where he was or to something new to move onto. In the case it’s the former. After a car accident, which I have to say was completely his own fault (Don’t look down at x-rays on your phone whilst driving dear Doctor!), Doctor Steven Strange (Cumberbatch), a high-flying surgeon with arrogance to match, has to undergo major surgery to restore his hands to some kind of working order. Of course, he’ll never operate again despite how much money he throws at repairing the damage done. After hearing from a physiotherapist how a seemingly paralysed man had walked again, Strange goes in search of the man to find out how. Now broke, alone and desperate, this is his last hope and he is directed to Nepal by the now, apparently, healed man.
Despite, at first, feeling him to be too arrogant and unbelieving “The Ancient One” (Swinton) and Mordo (Ejiofor) taking him under their tutorship and he begins on a journey that will not only help him with disabilities but a trip into the mystic arts. Strange, after some initial difficulty adjusting to his new discipline, becomes an exemplary student and it’s just as well as he soon comes up against Kaecilius (Mikkelsen). This is why I prefer to think of this movie as Sherlock Vs Hannibal; everyone’s favourite sleuth against everyone’s favourite cannibal.
From this point there’s the usual combat exchanges and the film is laced with a particular “folding” effect akin to that of Inception. Verbal back and forths feature during these exchanges but the film isn’t really heavy on dialogue in these parts. Questions are offered as to the legitimacy and morals of The Ancient One but Kaecilius’ main goal is to bring the inter-dimensional being known as Dormammu to Earth and that can’t be good, right? He sets about this task with his band of Zealots with a vigour of a man on a real mission.
To talk about the cast; Cumberbatch is a good choice for the role but I had a couple of issues. Firstly, his accent. I don’t think I need say anymore there. Secondly his appearance, whilst I’m sure it’s very faithful to the comics he just looked a bit like Ming the Merciless with a full head of hair. That said, the character’s arrogance and quick with are bread and butter to Cumberbacth. He applies himself well to the action sequences which are a little more civilised than other superheroes might find themselves in. The immediate support is ok, but nothing to write home about. Ejiofor doesn’t really break a sweat and unfortunately Tilda Swinton is just a little bit irritating. She just seems to be a bit too smarmy to be a revered leader. Benedict Wong is where the real turn in the film comes from. A seemingly curmudgeonly library keeper but a man of loyalties never to be questioned. There’s some really entertaining scenes shared between Wong’s appropriately named Wong and Strange himself.
The film, as a whole, is no worse no better than the recent Civil War or Apocalypse films but as I explained at the outset there’s not much new here to tell you about. You know Marvel, you know what you’re going to get. In that respect it delivers but with an overhanging sense that someone has run out of ideas.
Verdict: 3/5 stars: Strange more by name than nature, nothing fresh here.