I’ve never found Doctor Strange a particularly interesting character, but I was keen to see the eponymous movie for the two obvious reasons — Benedict Cumberbatch and the film’s role as part of the MCU.
I am glad I did. I think in terms purely of visuals it’s probably the best film I’ve ever seen: all the Inception-like city folding, all the pure-
Kirby Ditko psychedelia. Excellent stuff. (I wonder what Jack Kirby would have made Steve Ditko makes of the other-dimensional scenes had he lived to see them.)
I was a bit thrown by how much Stephen Strange was Gregory House, to the point where I was almost seeing Hugh Laurie’s face. I think that, at a stretch, you could read the whole film as a sort of sequel to House providing a redemption arc (admittedly with a rather striking change of tone).
In the end, though I enjoyed it a lot, Doctor Strange fell a little bit short for me, probably because it was sold as MCU but didn’t really feel like part of that universe. Perhaps that’s just a matter of mis-selling — but then, would I have seen it at all had it not been MCU? Maybe not. The occasional MCU nods, like the passing mention of the Avengers and the casual reveal that the time-control amulet is an infinity stone, felt tacked on.
That said, I did enjoy a moment of continuity early in the film: Strange takes a phone-call from his hospital while driving, to be told of a US Army colonel in his mid thirties with spinal fractures. I felt a little self-congratulatory thrill of recognition as I realised they were referring to James Rhodes, aka. War Machine, who was injured during in Captain America: Civil War. It’s neat when a film makes you feel clever.
All in all: a feast for the eyes, but maybe not quite so much for the brain.