Doctor Strange (d. Scott Derrickson USA 2016)

Please read On Reviews for a guide to how I write film reviews. Any spoilers are appropriately marked and, though I personally prefer to know little about a film before seeing it, there is a synopsis at the bottom for any who wish to see one.

Entertainment: starfish starfish starfish starfish 

Performances: starfish starfish starfish starfish 

Predictability:   starfish starfish starfish  

Technical:        starfish starfish starfish starfish starfish


Ever since the success of Marvel‘s The Avengers (d. Joss Whedon  USA 2012) the Marvel Universe (in film) has been ever expanding. What may at first have seemed like stand alone films had come together into one expansive universe. So Captain America: The First Avenger (d. Joe Johnston USA 2011), The Incredible Hulk (d. Louis Leterrier USA 2008), Iron Man (d. Jon Favreau USA 2008) and Thor (d. Kenneth Branagh USA 2011) were all interconnected but this continued further incorporating Spider-Man (character, no stand alone film yet), Ant-Man (d. Peyton Reed USA 2015) and even the outer space Guardians of the Galaxy (d. James Gunn USA 2014) was destined to join the fray. In another side to cinema we’ve seen the success of The Lord of the Rings (d. Peter Jackson USA/New Zealand 200120022003) and Harry Potter (d. Chris ColumbusAlfonso CuarónMike NewellDavid Yates,  USA/UK 20012002200420052007200920102011) and even seem to have brought this into Alice in Wonderland  (d. Tim Burton USA 2010) and the more artistic: The Fountain (d. Darren Aronofsky USA/Canda 2006); Life of Pi (d. Ang Lee USA/Tawain/UK 2012) and Inception (d. Christopher Nolan USA 2010) amongst others. This love of the strange, and magical space and time twisting makes it just about time for Doctor Strange (d. Scott Derrickson USA 2016).


So for a film of this scope it was obvious that the effects were going to be a huge part of this film. In fact Inception (d. Christopher Nolan USA 2010) and Life of Pi (d. Ang Lee USA/Taiwain/UK 2012)have very similiar moments, maybe even enough to be an influence – but there’s more. In some ways there are hints of the power of 2001: A Space Odyssey (d. Stanley Kubrick USA/UK 1968) but just hints, as the film – if artsy – is a lot more like Inception. In this way the effects are contextualised as a supplement to the acton and to touch upon themes that are, unfortunately, made Hollywood. There isn’t a serious consideration but a hint to such ideas simply in order to ask suspension of disbelief. In some ways this makes for a rather predictable story if it wasn’t for the odd turn or two. SPOILERS: I’m sorry, this is quite a big one so do skip this paragraph if this may annoy: Dr Strange vs Dormammu, so impressed by the lack of a physical defeat. END OF SPOILERS.  


Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange) puts in a good performance working an interesting flawed protagonist that feels a bit risky at times but is worked quite well for scrutiny by other characters. Tilda Swinton (Ancient One) is powerful in her presence and works a wonderfully calm role. Mads Mikkelsen (Kaecilius) carries his role very well but the script rather restricts him at times – we just can’t do villains nowadays can we? Rachel McAdams (Christine Palmer) gives a very endearing performance and has some wonderful moments of both comedy and drama – often to reinforce the protagonist. Essentially across the board we have a very well cast film, helping to bring the script above where it could have been.


Through the sheer majority of wonders that the effects brings us coupled with a well cast film, that bring their all to each scene; we see a daring marvel of a film. It has it’s flaws but we have some very strong strengths that are able to really dominate what could have been a shambles of a film.



A doctor with a photographic memory and very still hands is involved in an accident that destroys the use of his hands. In looking for a cure to get his rock steady hands back he discovers something beyond everything he knows.

Further Reading

Official Site

Press Conference

Facebook Interviews

Interview with Scott Derrickson

Behind the Scenes Laughs


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