Review: Doctor Strange – a psychedelic and funny superhero flick

The new entry in the Marvel behemoth, Doctor Strange follows Benedict Cumberbatch’s Stephen Strange. He is essentially House, an arrogant, smart mouthed doctor played by a British person doing a slightly dodgy accent. When he loses the use of his hands in a car accident he becomes obsessed with making himself better, leading to inter-dimensional trips you would need to take acid to come up with, and Mads Mikklesen having all sorts of fun in his villainous role. There is one sequence that somehow combines the last act of 2001, Gasper Noe’s Enter The Void, and the title sequence of Doctor Who. If Doctor Strange doesn’t win the Oscar for best visual effects, it will the biggest Oscar travesty since Jake Gyllenhaal was not nominated for his performance in Nightcrawler.

The film has been preemptively criticised for ripping off Christopher Nolan, and whitewashing – neither of which seems entirely fair. When the dimension twisting happens, the genius of it is that everything seems like a natural extension of the architecture of the room they are in, so the Inception comparison is mostly coincidental. In terms of whitewashing, director Scott Derrickson has talked of how the casting of Tilda Swinton was intended to subvert the stereotype of ‘the ancient one’. He talks a good game although the argument is still somewhat questionable.

I’m not much of a Marvel fan, but I really enjoyed Doctor Strange, up until now my favourite Marvel film has been Thor, which should give some idea of this reviewer’s relationship with the MCU. This film has, in the end, about as much substance as Iron Man. That may not be a whole lot, but my god what style. It is a treat for the eyes, the most ‘un-marvel’ Marvel movie, and a joy to watch. It is much funnier than Guardians of the Galaxy, and people seem to love that.

James Selway

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