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Doctor Strange ***

Marvel’s comic-book-to-movie machine throws out something different from the usual punch-ups with Doctor Strange, with action that takes place largely on astral planes and in mirror dimensions. While in essence a straightforward origin story (there’s not too many cameos from other franchises here) Scott Derrickson’s drama sees Benedict Cumberbatch’s self-absorbed neurosurgeon Steve Strange suffering from injuries after a car-smash, and playing his humble card before heading for Tibet and learning the art of mysticism. This training inevitably leads to conventional sky-line smashing showdowns in NYC and Hong Kong, but some of the build-up play is interesting. Tilda Swinton makes a horrible stab at playing a supposedly Eastern mystic (a line of dialogue hopefully suggests her origins as ‘Celtic’), and Cumberbatch is clearly a lot less comfortable here than when playing Sherlock or Hamlet; there’s only so many ways you can wave your arms about in from on blue screen psychedelic background. But the baroque trappings and off-kilter waves of effects keep the eye engaged.

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