Benedict Cumberbatch is perfectly cast as an aloof, arrogant neurosurgeon whose world falls apart after he damages the nerves in his hands in a car crash.

His quest for a cure takes him to Kathmandu, where an enigmatic mystic known as the Ancient One (beguilingly played by a bald, androgynous Tilda Swinton) sets him on the road to redemption.

The new sorcery skills he acquires, with help from the Ancient One’s chief lieutenants, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor and Benedict Wong, become crucial when nihilistic baddie Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) appears on the scene, threatening world-ending destruction.

The ensuing adventure boasts truly dazzling visuals. Cityscapes bend and fold as rival sorcerers reshape reality, conjuring up the origami dreamscapes of Christopher Nolan’s Inception and the mind-bending illusions of artist MC Escher. When Strange ventures into different astral realms, his acid trip freak out recalls the Star Gate sequence from Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

But it’s Cumberbatch who makes the movie work. Sardonic and funny, he is a perfect fit for the movie’s comic-book world, pulling off his Cloak of Levitation and spouting occult mumbo-jumbo with equal panache.