Film #334: DR. STRANGE
3 out of 5 stars
Comic book movies…at this point (this is the eleventh Marvel movie), they’ve become their own thing, haven’t they? But, if we’re being honest, not all of them have worked. Here… we have a live action adaptation of DR STRANGE – Marvel’s mystic enchanter / super hero. Directed by Scott Derrickson (SINISTER, DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL), the film is visually stunning, but suffers by its own definition – this is an origin story. Had we not already sat through a multitude of these things, there may have been something novel to see here. But instead, all the tropes are dutifully trotted out: the flawed hero who must be reduced to nothing before rising from the ashes to be the hero he was always meant to be ™, the vague mythology which spawns a seemingly undefeatable antagonist, the dizzying panorama of lush, CG environments… they’re all here. But with DR STRANGE we also get some very mind-blowing visuals (think INCEPTION meets Gaspar Noe’s ENTER THE VOID and then add a sentient cape) that are unlike anything we are used to in these kinds of films. STRANGE stars a top-drawer cast: Benedict Cumberbatch (SHERLOCK), Chiwetel Ejiofor (KINKY BOOTS), Rachel Adams (SHERLOCK HOLMES), Benedict Wong (THE MARTIAN), Mads Mikkelson (VALHALLA RISING), Tilda Swinton (CONSTANTINE, SNOWPIERCER), Benjamin Bratt (LA LAW), and Scott Adkins (UNDISPUTED) and all do journeymen’s work (particularly Swinton), but it all just seems a little compulsory. Like despite all the histrionics, the pyrotechnics, and the hand-wringing, not much of anything important happens that isn’t expected. But boy… is it sure pretty. I will say that I enjoy the first third of the film which focused more on the mysticism and magic side of things rather than the “kicky-punchy” finale, but let’s be honest… DR. STRANGE was not made for me. It was made for a younger – more inexperienced – audience that maybe can’t see the plot twists coming are content with the bombast of it all. In the end, DR. STRANGE is a perfectly serviceable comic book movie that fires on all cylinders. It’s just disappointing because it had the potential to be something else (see that first third), but that would have made for a completely different film. I would have loved to see more of his training and had the film culminate with him becoming the Sorcerer Supreme, but that's just me. It also doesn’t seem to be what Marvel has planned. I think, we’ll see more and more characters being introduced with their backstory being given in short-hand and brief flashbacks which, I guess, is ok at this point. But as escapist fare, you could do a lot worse than DR. STRANGE (again, that first third). Worth seeing, but you might want to wait until it hits disc. Fans of these sorts of things will love it. Non-fans… won’t be convinced, but are sure to enjoy it.