In a year with 5 other comic book movies being released, i guess you could say that making Doctor Strange seem different from the others would be quite a feat for Marvel Studios to pull off. But, surprise surprise... they do. Benedict Cumberbatch stars as the stubborn, egotistical neurosurgeon whose personal tragedy leads him to join a legion of sorcerers and learn the complexities of the mystic arts. Although fans of the Sherlock series will say otherwise, this is the character that the guy was born to portray. He perfectly plays a man who develops from being overly cocky to being smart with his skills and knowledge. In terms of acting, positive things can be said about Tilda Swinton and Chiwetel Ejiofor, they ooze their individual personas like they aren't even playing a role. Rachel McAdams and Benedict Wong are also great but like plenty of Marvel's smaller characters, they just don't get that much screen time.
The problem with screen time also affects Mads Mikkelson's villain character as well. He isn't underdeveloped though, he just isn't in many scenes. The screen time problem with characters is something that could be forgiven though. The movie has a run time of 130 minutes and uses it very well. There is no filler whatsoever. Every scenes has a point. Whether its developing a character, advancing the plot or just making you laugh, director Scott Derickson has filled scenes with enough of every variable to get any viewer hooked. The movie even has some emotional moments too. A scene with Swinton and Cumberbatch having a quiet conversation while lightning crackles in a sky of drifting snow is one of the best shot scenes of this year... i'm not joking.
Two of Marvel's hallmarks, action and humour get a new lease of life in this movie. The insane, trippy dimension scenes are a love letter to Steve Ditko's iconic comic panels. Buildings twist out of shape, panes of glass ripple and entire street blocks fold in on themselves, creating a crazy CGI playground for characters to square of in. ILM and Marvel wonderfully visualise everything that make this character's lore unique. Relics, spells and locations all look amazing. If I was to gripe about visuals, i would mention the green screen. It is a bit hazy in some areas.
All in all, Marvel has done well with Doctor Strange. Origin stories can be clichéd and boring, but the trick is to do something different. Marvel have a formula that they use in not only their origin stories but all of their solo movies. However, it isn't specific and despite what people might say, that loose formula allows for some creativity. Guardians of the Galaxy and the Captain America sequels are proof of that. Roll on more Doctor Strange!
P.S: There are two credits scenes. Both teasing future movies, one of them being a not yet confirmed Doctor Strange sequel.