I don’t need to be a mathematics student (which I am most definitely not) to know that ‘Marvel Studios + Benedict Cumberbatch = endless nerd joy’. QED. So when I found out that the giant of comic book movies had cast the great actor – who captured the hearts and imaginations of our generation as the titular character in BBC’s Sherlock – as one of their most powerful superheroes, I added yet another ‘must-see’ release to my 2016 calendar (which consists mainly of cinema & DVD release dates, and exam timetables).
Following the epic event of this summer that was Civil War, in which many of the interconnected Marvel movies’ storylines were brought to a conclusion, many devoted fans were eager to see where the grand saga of superheroes would go next; we’ve seen “genius playboy billionaire philanthropists,” super soldiers and even gods, so what else can they throw at us?
How about sorcerers that can bend the very laws of reality?
This stand-alone movie tells the origins of the ‘Sorcerer Supreme’ with a classic riches-to-rags character redemption as its backbone narrative. At this stage, fans and casual audiences alike should be more than familiar with the superhero movie formula: Hero origin, Villain introduction and Epic Showdown (throw in a Stan Lee cameo and a post-credit teaser for the sequel and you’ve got yourself a critical & box-office hit).
I have said before that the sheer number of superhero titles being released, all of which follow this pattern, has the potential to make the genre become stale and repetitive. However, when the movies such as this one are well directed, with a cast of talented actors and a solid story, that doesn’t seem to be a problem. Marvel has proven time and time again that they know two important things: what the fans want, and how to make good movies. Long may the phenomenon continue, true believers!
Cumberbatch is perfectly cast in the leading role of the brilliant but arrogant former surgeon (yes, the British actor does use an American accent, but it is a convincing one). I was also happy to see Rachel McAdams play the obligatory strong female love interest for the hero (how many other actresses can now say they have worked opposite two Sherlocks?) Mads Mikkelson takes on the role of the villain, and anyone who enjoyed him as Dr Lecter on TV’s spine-chilling detective drama Hannibal will be in for a treat.
One of the film’s greatest appeals was the mind-bending visual effects, used to convey the sorcerer’s power to warp reality and travel to other universes. There were points when I found myself wondering if I should compare this experience to watching Harry Potter or Rick & Morty, but either works for me!
Marvel shows no signs of slowing down as it continues to expand its Cinematic Universe, capping off their 2016 success with this brilliantly cast and visually stunning magical adventure that’s fun for everyone. Roll on 2017!