The Marvel Studios formula, though inarguably repetitive in some elements, hasn't led audiences astray yet - Doctor Strange is no exception.
My friends, let me begin by saying that I am, and will forever be, biased towards Marvel Studios productions. I grew up as a comic geek and read almost exclusively Marvel (let's ignore my early Archie phase) and I feel a truly intimate emotional connection to the pantheon of characters in that seemingly infinite library of comics.
For that reason, I try to be almost hypercritical whenever I evaluate the latest instalment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
I often hear talk of "superhero fatigue"; the idea that with all of these competing superhero movies coming out year after year, with 2016 on its own having eight separate superhero adaptations, audiences will eventually lose interest and find a new genre to dive headfirst into (isn't it about time for Westerns to pick up steam again?)
Doctor Strange, however, did enough things different that it was almost unrecognizable as a superhero movie at various points throughout, which was in its favour. The story is undeniable reminiscent of 2008's Iron Man - the arrogant, highly skilled professional has an accident that causes him to seek solace in a less-explored path that leads him to a position of great power and responsibility, eventually defeating a magnificent enemy by putting himself in yet another position of danger.
In Doctor Strange, the context is far more magical, but it's hard to ignore the fact that Marvel has allowed themselves to fall into certain rhythms. The recognizable, charismatic lead, lackluster villain and occasionally-forced humour on their own tend to take you out of the story momentarily.
However, going back to my earlier point, the reason Doctor Strange is different than almost every other Marvel Studios movie is that Strange's motivation for undergoing mystical training is entirely selfish, and he reminds us of this throughout the film all the way up until the point that the stakes are so high, he has no choice but to put his own path on hold to defend the earth. In fact, this particular character arc could be compared to Edward Norton's eponymous character in the less-than-stellar Incredible Hulk in that respect.
For those reasons, combined with the truly spectacular Ditko-esque psychedelic visuals and the superior acting of Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton and Rachel McAdams, Doctor Strange has secured its place among the elite of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While it's no Iron Man, Captain America: The Winter Soldier or The Avengers, it will absolutely go down as one of the franchise's best origin stories.
Final Rating: 3.5 / 5
Make sure to follow @FourDRecords on our various social media platforms to be updated whenever we release a new review!