In Dr Strange Benedict Cumberbatch plays Dr Stephen Strange, an arrogant neurosurgeon who has a car accident and loses ability in his hands. Spiralling down into anger and sorrow, Strange believes his life is over until he hears about a The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton).
Strange heads to Kathmandu, Nepal, to meet The Ancient One, who is some spiritual superhero monk. Training and learning more about the order of cross-dimensional warriors which he has become part of leads Strange into a cosmic battle – across multiple universes – against a power-hungry former student.
RATED: M for fantasy themes and violence.
AUDIENCE: Dr Strange is the latest release from the Marvel Comics empire. So, if you like The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy or Ant-Man, you’ll probably love Dr Strange. This comic-book creation also has much in common with The Matrix and Inception.
WHAT’S GOOD: Superhero movies based on Marvel Comics can start to feel repetitive and have that vibe of being only released as an excuse to make money. But as its title suggests, Dr Strange is an unusual outing for Marvel. Focused more on the spiritual realm than explosions or action- even though the 3D visuals are immersive, trippy and big – Dr Strange is wall-to-wall with concepts and ideas about existence and our place in the scheme of things. Everything from ego and selfishness to zealots, holy books, disciples and eternal life turn up. Helped along by a fine cast and a tone of jokey seriousness, Dr Strange is strange enough to be strangely engaging.
WHAT’S NOT: For all its well-conceived ideas, this new addition to the Marvel Movie Universe still brings with it many interactions, characters or explanations which will make your eyes roll. Dr Strange’s rapid development from unbelieving scientist to spiritual warrior is rushed but not fatal. Similarly, Mads Mikkelson as the time-jumping bad guy could have had much more to do, yet there’s enough villainous motivation for Dr Strange to be taking on a reasonable foe.
SPIRITUALLY SPEAKING: You will have to take notes during Dr Strange, to keep up with all the references to spiritual matters. Loosely using the framework of Eastern mysticism to create the multi-universe playground of The Ancient One, Dr Strange also includes a lot of ideas or teachings linked with Christianity. While this Marvel movie seems to be having a go at people who uphold the teachings of an old book that warns against the dangers of knowledge, there’s also much said about how you have to stop being selfish to be able to enter eternal life. Thinking existence is all about you is an egotistical mistake, according to Dr Strange. The key to truly living is to stop focusing on yourself – a wise understanding that Jesus promised would lead to never-ending life with him (for those who believe in what is offering).