Marvel's magicians spin a truly trippy tale
MARVEL Studios has put out a lot of films in the past few years but their latest effort is a lot trippier than most.
In Dr Strange, Benedict Cumberbatch plays (who else) Dr Stephen Strange, an arrogant neurosurgeon who can no longer operate after his hands are injured in a car accident.
Obsessed with finding a way to heal his hands, he travels to Kathmandu, Nepal, where he seeks the help of the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), a mystic who apparently helped a paralysed man walk again.
But the Ancient One is more than just a healer. Revealing the existence of other dimensions, she and her followers set Stephen on a new path... as a master of mystic arts.
While Cumberbatch (Sherlock) was certainly the ideal option to play Dr Strange, Tilda Swinton was a controversial choice for the Ancient One.
After all, in the comics the character is an elderly Asian man, and she's, well, clearly not any of those things.
But despite Marvel's deviation from the source material (and let's be honest, it wouldn't be the first time), she's actually pretty great in the role.
So's Chiwetel Ejiofor as sorcerer Mordo, another character greatly changed from the comics.
But the real star of the film is its eye-popping special effects, with the various sorcerers able to fold reality Inception-style, turning city-scapes into trippy, psychedelic kaleidoscopes.
While Dr Strange adds a fascinating new mythology to the Marvel universe, the movie still has a nagging feeling of familiarity about it - although familiarity to their other films may be what Marvel's relying on.
It's certainly hard to escape the similarities between the arrogant Strange and the equally arrogant Tony Stark from Iron Man.
Still, Dr Strange sets things up well for more movies - although with (at least) eight more Marvel films out in the next few years it might be a while before we see a sequel.
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen
Reviewer: Matthew Pearce
Verdict: Three and half stars