Living the life of luxury, Doctor Stephen Strange has it all; Lamborghini, penthouse apartments and revolving watch trays but a car crash takes all that away from him. Now he must travel to Kathmandu to save his hands, over come his ego and perhaps master a better accent. This is the tale of…………..
Hannibal Lecter has broken into a library and stolen a page or two from a book; all in the pursuit of the dark one and the power he promises. In triumph he and his followers seem to take a few months off before carrying on with their plan of wold domination giving self centred egotist Stephen Strange time to have a life altering car crash loose it all and travel to Kathmandu on the advice of one guy who somehow managed to walk again after some nasty trip or fall at work. Here he finds “The Operative“, looking to atone for his dark past, who shows him Tilda Swinton an ageless, mysterious beauty with more power than you can possible imagine. Here they train in the mystic arts through montage and google translate as Strange works his way through the library until there is one thing more to learn; the art of the plot Mcguffin. Before he can learn its ways however Hannibal and his sith eyed cronies strike; leading to a fight across the globe as the bad guys try to take down the shields protecting the world and the good guys try to stop them.
Now for those who don’t know Strange is an old sixties character from the mind of Steve Ditko; creator of Blue Beetle and Spiderman, he was, even for the time, a far out guy and the comics reflect that; especially Strange. Perhaps then the biggest praise I can give the movie is that it lives up to those ideals in the same way that Asgard in “Thor” lived up to Kirby’s. Building on the macroverse we saw in “Ant-Man” Strange travels between dimensions, bends time and visits the “Mirror World” in an effort to stop the children of Dormammu and each of these live up to Ditko’s artwork while leaving room to grow for the sequel. Heck the weaponised “Inception” may be the tamest part. Though I would defiantly not advise seeing this movie drunk or on illegal narcotics.
Now the plot holds together well enough but it does suffer from being an origin story and each time it really seems to pick up it bumps up against the boundaries of such and seems to stutter and struggle. Everything exists to set something up and while they have twisted the story somewhat from the comics the new twisted concoction feels like a fairly standard origin. This is a shame with early reports coming down the pipe line that “Strange” would avoid this trap by jumping in feet first though maybe this isn’t the best way to plate up “Strange” for a movie going audience still struggling with a regular helping of Thor.
The cast is decent though what would you expect with the names on offer. Swinton and Ejiofor both do well and help give some of the more far out sequences some much needed weight and emotion. Of course that’s not who you really want to hear about is it. You wanna know about Doctor Strange himself; Eggs and Benedict.
He’s come a long way since MJN airline and while I can’t complain about his role in the feature presentation he didn’t quite seem to fit it as well as Marvel has managed with their other big names. After following Watson into Fantasy with the “The Hobbit”, a bloated thee picture mess, he has now followed him into super heroics, or maybe Freeman followed him but managed to get his picture out sooner. Either way it doesn’t matter but what does matter is his decision to follow his cue and adapt an outrageous accent. When growing up we took the piss out of Dick Van Dyke for his Londoner chimney sweep but surely these two sound just as bad as he ever did; with only half the twinkle in their eye. Now Cummerbund manages to tone it down and bear it slightly better but that’s not really saying much compared to Freeman’s cigar chompin’, horse ridin’, six gun shootin’ “texan”. The problem is, assuming we just had to have these two for said roles did they really need to be American. I mean I know comics Doc Strange is American and to stick to the books we need him housed in Greenwich by the time the credits role but is there any reason whatsoever that Strange couldn’t be a Brit in this interpretation?
In truth there are slightly more problems at work than the accent and normally I would say they were small enough to let slide for another feature or two but with reports coming in that Strange could be taking over the linchpin role from RDJ once he finally leaves I’m not so sure.
Either way if you’re a fan of Marvel movies you’re probably gonna love this one and while it’s humour isn’t anywhere near the level of “Guardians” there’s no great relationships you’re gonna remember and the lead feels less like a natural fit for the character as written and more like a decent understudy it’s still a hell of a ride and worth the price of admission.