I went to the 3pm showing of Scott Derrickson’s Doctor Strange at the Cineworld IMAX at Glasgow Science Centre (proclaimed, in person, at each visit, as the largest screen in Scotland). Then, with the indentations from the IMAX glasses still visible on the bridge of my nose, I returned for the 9pm showing. I’m tempted to end the review there, as it’s clearly obvious what I thought of this movie. I will add a little more (spoiler-free) detail.
I’m a DC guy that enjoys Marvel movies. My favourite movies in the MCU being Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), Ant-Man (2015) and Iron Man 3 (2013). This list should give you the idea: I prefer the more quirky, ‘out there’ kind of Marvel movie. So, I was really looking forward to Doctor Strange.
From the spectacular opening, I knew I was in for a treat. While a Yankee Benedict Cumberbatch takes a little getting used to, this acting master craftsman soon has us under his spell. The real show stealer is Tilda Swinton, who, as The Ancient One, effortlessly portrays both gravitas and a sense of cheekiness.
Doctor Strange retains the feel and look of a traditional MCU movie, while delivering a little extra. Sure, the mind-bending visuals are spectacular, and a few times there are head nods toward more retro special effects, but what grabbed me was the spiritual angle of the movie. It’s not unusual for comic book movies to touch on or reference deeper themes. Doctor Strange doesn’t just touch on deeper themes, it explores them in a meaningful and consistent way. I identified with Steve Strange as he tried to straddle the worlds of Spirituality and Sarcasm. Having faith and trying to walk a spiritual path, but not taking yourself too seriously. This balance is maintained perfectly throughout the film. The more esoteric aspects do not feel shoehorned in as a prologue to the next action sequence, they are the central component of the story, and the film greatly benefits as a result.
While there are a few glitches, here and there, and I found myself wanting more of a certain sub-plot than I ultimately got, these are forgivable. Doctor Strange is a pleasure, from beginning to end.