Friday, April 14, 2017

Doctor Strange Movie Review

Doctor Strange (2016)
Rent Doctor Strange on Amazon Video
Written by: Jon Spaihts and Scott Derrickson & C. Robert Cargill (written by), Stan Lee and Steve Ditko (based on the Marvel comics by)
Directed by: Scott Derrickson
Starring:  Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdam, Benedict Wong, Benjamin Bratt, Mads Mikkelsen, Tilda Swinton
Rated: PG-13

My rating is simple, Watch It, It Depends, Skip it. Read my previous movie reviews!

After an auto accident ends his career as a neurosurgeon, Stephen Strange embarks on a quest to heal himself, leading to a mysterious mentor the Ancient One and Strange becoming the Sorcerer Supreme.

This easily could have been a complete train wreck, the fact it's not is an achievement. Despite that there isn't much interesting story here. This relies on  CGI, and while it's impressive, if you want an engaging story this isn't it. The ending is the strongest part, but you'll suffer many of the usual super hero tropes to get there.
If this wasn't beholden to comic books and Marvel's play it safe approach, Strange could be an intriguing anti-hero.
It depends.

Benedict Cumberbatch is a draw alone, but the movie doesn't give him enough to do. He gets to stand around and let the CGI do most of the work. It's not his fault, it's a fundamental script problem. This movie was made to be a CGI show reel.

Mads Mikkelson does a solid job in an underutilized villain role. Marvel movies need a bad guy so they throw a menacing character on screen and tell us to dislike him. He could have been a really interesting character if the movie had time to develop him. Tilda Swinton is in another androgynous role as she was in Constantine (2005). She's the Anicent One that trains Doctor Strange.

The lesson the Ancient One takes from training Mikkelson's character who turned into a villain is to train Doctor Strange who reminds her of the villain. Maybe the Ancient One wants to right a wrong, but that's a poor economic decision.
The Ancient One tells Strange you have to break the rules to defeat the bad guys. It wouldn't be difficult to make Strange a full on villain. He already has all of the hallmarks. He's self-centered, pompous, and believes rules don't apply to him.

It's a bold move to make your main character an unlikable jerk. More could have been done with that. Instead, there is a lot of CGI, it's a lot of good CGI, but it makes this more spectacle than story. This invokes an Inception (2010) like world folding in on itself sequence. If Inception didn't exist that would be stunning, but I, like most people, thought of Nolan's movie. I don't have a problem with the quality of the CGI, it just overshadows the characters and story.

The way Strange wins was a welcome surprise, an affront to the typical beat them up conclusion of most super hero movies.
Writing this review, I like the movie more now than while I was actually watching it. I almost want to go back and watch it again.

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