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Doctor Strange review: From Sherlock to a superhero

By Damon Smith

Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a brilliant and arrogant neurosurgeon, with a minimalist Manhattan apartment and an off-limits romance with fellow medic Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams).

But his career is jeopardised when he foolishly takes a telephone call in his speeding Lamborghini. Colleagues save his life, but not his career, surgically refashioning his trembling hands with metal pins.

Cast adrift from his world, Strange heads to Kathmandu in search of spiritual enlightenment with an enigmatic Celtic shaman (Tilda Swinton), who harnesses energy to shape reality. Two of her masters, Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Wong (Benedict Wong), take Strange under their wing and soon he can travel long distances with a swish of his hand.

As his confidence grows, Strange learns of a former master, Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), who uses his powers for evil.

When Kaecilius threatens Strange's old life, including the beautiful Christine, the medic uses his training to save everything he holds dear.

Aside from the trippy effects, Doctor Strange is a satisfying opening salvo. Cumberbatch digs deep beneath the bruised skin of his character's overinflated ego, verbalising his inner turmoil and learning he is not entirely the master of his own destiny.

Four stars

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