The latest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the adaptation of the well-known comic Doctor Strange and is directed by Scott Derrickson. The trailers and posters promised a refreshing experience, a new kind of hero and a visually stunning spectacle. Has it delivered? Let’s find out.
When a top-notch neurosurgeon gets involved in a car accident, he loses the use of his hands. Determined not to lose his medical abilities, he seeks healing in a mysterious monastery in which he trains to be a sorcerer, and sees himself involved in a war that endangers human life.
Benedict Cumberbatch portrays this surgeon, Stephen Strange, in a quite unsurprising way, as it’s inevitable to find traces of Sherlock Holmes in his performance. The doctor has the same arrogance as the detective, and the lots of funny one-liners are not enough to convince the viewers of the different nature of both characters. Cumberbatch’s performance is indeed very good, though, since he achieves to capture the essence of the doctor and show his feelings correctly.
The rest of the cast is great, too. Rachel McAdams, while having a pretty uninteresting character, is able to deliver emotion and turn the scenes she stars in a joy to watch. Chiwetel Ejiofor does an excellent job as Mordo, too, but the highlight of the show was Mads Mikkelsen, whose portrayal of the villain works surprisingly great. He already proved his capability of being an awesome villain in the amazing Casino Royale, so I expected something more, though. His character has some bad dialogue every now and then and a lot of lack of depth, but there are some moments spread throughout the movie that are brilliant.
And the visuals… Oh, the visuals! Nothing short of jaw-dropping, the special effects in this film feel more like an experience by themselves than just a feature. Seeing buildings twist, turn and be transformed was the best part of the movie. To those viewers interested in these CGI-heavy effects, I would recommend watching the film in 3D, since it enhances those crazy sequences greatly, even if it adds nothing (sometimes it’s even distracting) to the rest of the runtime.
My main problem with Doctor Strange is the pacing, as it’s highly irregular, where action moments are all of a sudden interrupted with exposition-heavy scenes. These scenes were expected in a film with such an imaginative universe of sorcery, but they are incredibly dull most of the times, unfortunately. That pacing was heavily compromised to be able to include humour throughout the movie, which was very, very poorly balanced. Some emotional moments are ruined because of typical and bad jokes that simply put, don’t work. But then the movie is plagued with boring exposition scenes that could have been improved with a couple of chuckle-worthy lines.
Probably this will become a trend in future Marvel movies, though, as it has worked properly most of the times, from Deadpool to Guardians of the Galaxy. However, I wish they could also consider doing non-humour-reliant films every now and then, it feels like they’re forcing it too much, and in Doctor Strange, it just doesn’t feel right. The first few scenes have a much more serious tone that fits the mood way better, it was a shame to see that sacrificed in favour of ineffective one-liners.
Many times, Marvel is avowed for making great movies, and while I believe that they do indeed know how to make awesome films (Guardians of the Galaxy, Civil War), we have witnessed pretty terrible ones too (Thor, Thor: The Dark World, Iron Man 2). Doctor Strange falls into the third category, into the pile of mediocre movies we’ve seen in the cinematic universe Marvel is building, together with The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Ant-Man.
All in all, this ends up being an Inception wannabe, with an enormous lack of substance that nothing else is able to overcome. Having great looks and a good cast is not enough to weigh down the script and pacing problems this film is flooded with, and while being an enjoyable experience, it is, unfortunately, too far from perfect. 6/10