After hours of sorcerer-esque meditation and introspection, I have come to the realization that Doctor Strange is my favorite entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe thus far. Its tremendous cast; sharp direction; breathtakingly trippy visuals; and quirky sense of humor make for a welcomed, if only slight, diversion from the well-established Marvel Studios formula.
Benedict Cumberbatch's nuanced performance perfectly conveys the polarizing personality of the titular Stephen Strange, a stubborn surgeon so desperate to cure his crushed hands that he turns to sorcery and winds up under the tutelage of the Ancient One, a scene-stealing master of magic played by the great Tilda Swinton. Rachel McAdams gives a heartfelt performance as the obligatory love interest who, unfortunately, is not give a whole lot to do here. Chiwetel Ejiofor rocks the role of Mordo, Strange's co-apprentice/teacher and Mads Mikkelsen expectedly adds a level of class to the pantheon of mostly underwhelming Marvel cinematic villains.
The unsung superhero of Doctor Strange is Director Scott Derrickson, who maintains a strong sense of tone despite this being Marvel's most ambitious film to date: from the brilliant, psychedelic visuals to the goofy costumes and elaborate, otherworldly set pieces. By keeping the focus on the story and its characters, Derrickson expertly crafts cohesion from what could easily have been a muddled mess.
As fans of the comics will tell you, the Doctor Strange books are consistently funny. So too is the film. Though the quota of jokes is not nearly comparable to that of an Iron Man film, Doctor Strange has a number of visual gags that take advantage of the content's atypical mysticism. There is one gut-buster in particular set up early on between Strange and his assistant Wong that pays off huge come the falling action.
Though Doctor Strange often coincides with the predictable "superhero's journey (that, one could argue, was established by Marvel themselves almost a decade ago)," it is a still great fun and definitely worth your time.