A fine Marvel comic book movie, it works pretty much from beginning to end. It’s better than I expected from the trailers.
Benedict Cumberbatch plays an arrogant New York neurosurgeon (rather like William Hurt in The Doctor) who loses control of his hands in a Lamborghini crash. When no doctor can repair them, he ventures to a monastery in Katmandu to see if the Mystical Wisdom of the East can help him. Tilda Swinton plays the Celtic head sorceress and Chiwetel Ejiofor is her right hand man. Mads Mikkelsen is the Nordic bad guy.
Doctor Strange draws a fair amount visually from Inception, especially the city block-folding, along with Harry Potter movies and Matthew McConhaughey driving a Lincoln commercials.
Most big budget blockbusters these days are either about eugenics or death. This one is about death. The dialogue is better than you’d imagine.
Perhaps the biggest missed opportunity is that Cumberbatch attempts an American accent. He sounds reasonably authentic but it straitjackets him compared to what he could do with his classically trained English accent. In contrast, Swinton and Ejiofor use their standard English stage actor accents to good effect. This kind of higher hoo-ha works better with an English accent.
English and Australian actors have become much better at imitating American accents since Cary Grant’s day. The old movies never tried to explain Grant’s accent.
By Anthony Hopkins’ time as an American movie star, there was often some sort of vague explanation about how his American-born character had been a Rhodes Scholar or something and picked up the accent at Oxford. Personally, I think that’s fine, except when trying to do biopics like Hopkins in Oliver Stone’s Nixon.
The introduction of videotapes enabled young men in Manchester and Perth to practice sounding just like their American movie star favorites.
Thus in Mel Gibson’s new movie Hacksaw Ridge, all the English and Australian actors are quite competent at playing American GIs. On the other hand, the only featured American, Vince Vaughn, stands out. He seems to be having more fun with the dialogue than the non-American actors. (On the other hand, Vince Vaughn has long been on the ambiguous edge of being a a leading man movie star. Having him drop down to a supporting role like in Hacksaw Ridge does a lot for a movie.)
I suspect Cumberbatch would have had more fun playing Doctor Strange speaking the Queen’s English. Give Doctor Strange a backstory like the Anglo-American Nolan Brothers, whom the movie borrows from: English father, American mother, and an upbringing back and forth between London and Chicago, so Christopher has an English accent and Jonathan has an American accent.