Doctor Strange Movie Review
Take Inception, mix it together with The Matrix and apply the Marvel formula and you’ll get something that sort of resembles Doctor Strange, a movie that isn’t nearly as good as either (nor ranks among Marvel’s best) but still serves up a fast-paced, entertaining piece of sorcery nonetheless.
Benedict Cumberbatch stars as the title character in this movie that really wants to be different from the batch of cookie-cutter Marvel movies that have come before it without being different enough to scare away audiences who expect the cookie-cutter Marvel movies that have come before it. Doctor Strange largely succeeds by featuring a mystical character with mystical powers that can bend reality and time--but still being completely predictable, with much of the movie dedicated to how Doctor Strange came to be, his training and the ensuing, generic battle for Earth.
Cumberbatch is solid in the lead, a good fit for a man who is so cocky he looks down on everyone, including his sort-of-girlfriend doctor friend (played by Rachel McAdams, who is given very little to do in the movie but at least avoids being the damsel in distress). He looks a little pained when trying to evoke laughter from the film’s inconsistent jokes, but all in all, he handles the character deftly.
Sadly, fellow celebrated foreign actor Mads Mikkelsen gets the unenviable role of forgettable Marvel villain, whose motivations for destroying the Earth seem to be derived from the belief that everyone will get to live forever by bringing a giant, all-powerful space cloud (have we learned nothing from Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer or Green Lantern?) to our solar system. At least he gets to wear glitter under his eyes.
As a superhero movie, and more importantly as an action movie, Doctor Strange works well enough--which is to say that it’s entertaining in the moment, but isn’t nearly as unique nor as memorable as it wants to be. Or should be.
It is refreshing to watch a Marvel movie that at least plays in a different arena than most of the other superheroes that have been introduced, but between the dojo training sequences and the city-bending action scenes, it’s far too easy to make comparisons--and less enthusiastic comparisons--to better movies that have done the same thing with more style, energy and quality. As with other Marvel movies, Doctor Strange plays it safe, a shame given the possibilities available to the character and his world. The action is good, but there’s not a scene I would point to that stands out as truly memorable.
If you’re a fan of the Marvel movies that have come before it, you’ll undoubtedly like Doctor Strange, but perhaps in some other universe and with a few tweaks, this could have been a movie we all could have loved.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.