Doctor Strange Review
I thought I’d let this movie percolate in my head a few days before attempting a review.
I’ve been on the Marvel bandwagon since Iron Man and though I’m a card carrying DC fan, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the MCU experience and give credit to Marvel for the time they put into building their cinematic universe. They’re fine films, entertaining to the hilt and have introduced audiences to some unlikely heroes such as Groot, Rocket and Luis. If I have any dissatisfaction, it is in the minor things, such as the lack of good villain.
Which is why I was sad to walk out of Doctor Strange, feeling underwhelmed.
There are many things to like about this film, the stunning special effects for one. They are a visual feast and by film’s end, I think audiences will be sated without having any Inception aftertaste. Some may say the effects mimic that film, I disagree. I think it expands the dimensional concepts we were introduced to in Nolan’s 2010 offering. Either way, the effects and glorious colour palette (particularly in 3D) is worth the applause it’s receiving.
The chameleon like Benedict Cumberbatch continues to be astound and while I was initially jarred by his American accent (no one named Cumberbatch ought to have one), his performance was nuanced and affecting. As Strange, he runs through the gauntlet here, from arrogant asshole, to broken cripple finally emerging as a man who is aware of his limitations but is unafraid to push past them. Yes, it does bear resemblance to Tony Stark's evolution but it doesn't feel too similar. Furthermore, the film avoids the rush to make him a hero so audiences can look forward to seeing him grow into role of the Sorcerer Supreme.
Pity about the plot.
Perhaps after viewing so many MCU films I’m jaded but I found the execution of the origin story to be particularly by the numbers. There were no surprises here. Not a single one. Until the movie, I wasn’t aware of the source material at all but the script felt as if it was written by bullet point.
Teacher dying - check.
Best friend turning evil - check.
Racial stereotype providing comic relief - check.
Villain with misguided intentions - check
Obligatory love interest - check.
Cumberbatch is aided by a cast of stellar actors, Tilda Swinton is effectively enigmatic as the Ancient and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Mordo, the man on the cusp of leaving his own mark in the mythology, is appropriately conflicted. The others however, are criminally underused. Rachel McAdams and Michael Stuhlbarg are merely there to show the audience how obnoxious pre-accident Strange was and then almost forgotten until the film needs them again to show how much Strange has grown.
Mads Mikkelsen who has proven his range in Hannibal and countless other roles, is rather one-note as Kaecilius. The character’s motivations are pretty thin to begin with and the writing does nothing to keep Kaecilius from becoming another version of Malekith from Thor 2: Dark World.
Sadly, no Loki here folks, not even a Wilson Fisk or Killgrave for that matter.
Finally, we come to Dormammu. Once again, with no knowledge of the source material, and having been exposed to way too many ‘big cloud thing in the sky ready to destroy us’ villains in the past, Dormammu came across like Parallax in Green Lantern or Galactus in Fantastic Four 2, instead of the anti-life entity he’s depicted to be. While Strange’s method of dealing with him was a nice twist, the physical manifestation of Dormammu lacked menace.
Overall, however, Doctor Strange is an enjoyable movie but unlike other Marvel films such as The Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and my personal favourite Antman, it has a lot of style but not that much substance. That being said, I do want to see another Dr. Strange film but I want to love it, not simply like it.
And I want more Cloak of Levitation.