DirkH’s review published on Letterboxd:
People will complain about the Marvel template and the predictability of the origin story plot. And they'd be right. It's all there. A fact that obviously isn't that strange as it is both a Marvel film and an origin story.
We get the hero discovering himself, the love interest and the world threatening villain. It's all there for us to roll our eyes at and have us complain about how Marvel is destroying the cinematic landscape.
But here's the thing. Doctor Strange is bonkers. It goes to so many weird places it leaves those complaints behind as an afterthought.
One of Marvel's more bizarre superheroes, Strange is given life to by an outstanding interpretation of Cumberbatch and writer/director Derrickson. The biggest fear I had was that we'd get a Stark 2.0. Thankfully, Strange here is presented as I know him from the comics. Arrogant, yes, but ultimately a man of control and with a sense of moral.
As Strange follows the obligatory steps to become the hero he is, Derrickson does two things to make this one of the most refreshing and gutsy blockbusters of recent years.
First, the visuals. Derrickson does things here that are just insane. His visualisation of the multiverse is superb and there are sequences in this film that are jaw-droppingly spectacular and bizarre. Another thing that struck me in this department was that Derrickson wasn't afraid to betray his horror roots. It's definitely the most graphic Marvel film out there. Not that it's gory, but it doesn't play it safe either.
And second there's the fun. Most especially the self aware humour. There are a lot of jokes that work really well, but the moments that stood out for me were the small scenes where Derrickson winks at us, basically saying: "Look, I know we're making a film about a guy in a red cloak who basically runs around making circles with his hands looking really serious, but let's have fun anyway! " It's that with the risky visuals that make me appreciate this film despite its paint by numbers elements.
The cast is excellent, the music is at points as weird as the visuals, the action is riveting and even though it feels like a Marvel film it never really looks like one.
So do yourself a favour. Accept that these films will never be perfect due to their formula, but in this particular case, allow yourself to be swept along by what is assuredly an off kilter, fun as hell ride.