Doctor Strange Blu-ray review: Marvel’s latest finally reaches the home formats.

Doctor Strange Blu-ray review by Ben Read, March 2017.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is at the top of its game. In a time where Thor, Star-Lord, and even Ant-Man are now household names, it appears that the superhero powerhouse is seemingly unstoppable. Now, before another adventure with the Guardians later this year, Marvel have returned to make audiences believe in magic, sorcery, and an American Benedict Cumberbatch. Do they succeed?

Thankfully, yes (mostly). After introducing viewers to Asgard, the vast reaches of space, and the Quantum Realm, Doctor Strange brings us the mystical side of the Marvel Universe. Clearly Strange is taken from the D-list of Marvel’s library, with very few costumed characters left to adapt for the big screen. This explains the casting of fan-favourite Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch, rather than the usual tactic of creating an A-lister from an unknown. But, this was definitely a clever move considering the obscure and… strange nature of the source material.

The story revolves around a brilliant, but arrogant neurosurgeon named Stephen Strange. After Strange is involved in a brutally violent car accident, he loses the use of hands. Strange then embarks on a quest across the globe, to find a cure for his hands, and repair his career in the process. This leads him to Kamar-Taj where he meets the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), an incredibly powerful sorcerer who teaches him to control magic and the mystic arts.

The narrative trope of a cocky, wise-cracking, immensely flawed protagonist, is well worn in the Marvel universe. At times the film can feel like a slightly reconstructed Iron Man, or Ant-Man, but overall this is certainly not a bad thing. The template might be overused, but as the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Doctor Strange adds enough heart, and likability to its basic story, that it’s easy to forgive these shortcomings. Predictably, much of this charm comes from its leading man, Mr Cumberbatch. The increasingly-popular geek icon injects wit, humour, vulnerability and depth, to a character that could have easily become a bland caricature of Tony Stark. That said, there are more than a few moments of linguistic awkwardness with his wobbly American accent. But, these are easy to overlook with a man as talented as Cumberbatch.

Sinister’s Scott Derrikson brings some gorgeously Inception-esque visuals to the film, accompanied by Academy Award-nominated visual effects. The trippy imagery on display is undoubtedly a feast for the eyes, but also something that can become gimmicky if overused. Fortunately Derrikson balances this fine line well, and saves the majority of the action for the third act. This also contains a wonderful nod to Cumberbatch’s work as Smaug in the Hobbit trilogy, with a motion capture performance as the films surprise villain Dormammu.

The film masterfully sets Strange up as the new face of the MCU, with its $677 million box office take, clearly showing that audiences have resonated with him. But, the time spent exploring his character means that the the film also falls into the classic trap of most Marvel outings. This of course, is in reference to the films weak villain (played by a criminally underused Mads Mikkelsen), and poorly developed love interest (played by Rachel McAdams). Both of these characters are given minimal amounts of screen time to really shine, and are left in the shadow of Cumberbatch as a result. Chiwetel Ejifor’s Karl Mordo on the other hand, delivers a deliciously tantalising performance that clearly sets the character up for big things in the inevitable sequel.  

Overall, Doctor Strange relies heavily on the established formula of previous superhero origin stories. But, the stunning visuals, witty dialogue, and fantastic performance from Benedict Cumberbatch, are more than enough to grab your attention from beginning to end. The film also heavily teases some exciting things to come in both Thor: Ragnarok, and Avengers: Infinity War in the next year, and we couldn’t be more excited about it. 

Bonus Features:
Play Movie With Intro
Featurettes/A Strange Transformation
Featurettes/Strange Company
Featurettes/The Fabric of Reality
Featurettes/Across Time and Space
Featurettes/The Score-cerer Supreme
Marvel Studios Phase 3 Exclusive Look
Team Thor: Part 2
Deleted & Extended Scenes:
1.) Strange Meets Daniel Drumm
2.) Kaecilius Searches For Answers
3.) The Kamar-Taj Courtyard
4.) Making Contact
5.) Lost In Kathmandu
Gag Reel
Audio Commentary By Director Scott Derrickson

These special features are mostly unremarkable. However, the Phase 3 Exclusive Look is an absolute must-watch for Marvel fans. Also, Team Thor: Part 2 is easily one of the most hilarious scenes to involve Chris Hemsworth in the entire MCU. If the upcoming third film is even remotely as entertaining as this scene, then we really are in for something special.

Doctor Strange is available on Blu-ray and DVD now!