By Ryan Keating-Lambert
More silly than strange. Marvel’s latest outing takes us into the mystical unknown. A world behind reality as we know it. If you loved the carefully constructed worlds of The Matrix and Inception, and the deep philosophies behind them, you probably won’t dig Doctor Strange.
Dr Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is an arrogant and selfish neurosurgeon with a really cheesy sense of humour who gets the shakes after a car accident damages both of his gifted surgeon hands. After alienating himself from his colleagues and love interest (Rachel McAdams), he goes to a group of mind-bending mystics in Kathmandu which are led by The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton). Before long, Strange is dragged into an interdimensional war with evil that threatens to destroy the world.
Sound familiar? Sure, it’s your standard ‘save the world’ Marvel movie plot like The Avengers but with a lot of unnecessary slapstick humour. Director Scott Derrickson, who gave us Sinister and The Exorcism of Emily Rose – two very dark and well-crafted horror films, has gone a bit too light-hearted here for a subject as deep as the mystic arts. There are plot holes galore, especially where this ancient mystic group is concerned. For someone as arrogant and stupid as Dr Strange, why do they leave all of the important stuff lying around unguarded? Pretty flimsy place. They have better security at my local library.
I keep saying the word arrogant and I need to say it again. Strange is so arrogant that it’s almost unbelievable. It’s as if Derrickson was aiming for an Iron-Man level of arrogance, but wasn’t quite sure when to stop. The slapstick humour was also too much in parts. You’ve got to draw the line somewhere, right? The film progressively got worse for me, and then they started to play with time travel, so we could hear the same tedious and embarrassing dialogue over and over again.
Both Swinton and Cumberbatch are decent, when are they not? It’s not acting that’s the problem, it’s the characters – they’re so two dimensional. However, I was surprised by Chiwetel Ejiofor and his performance.. The whole thing felt a bit disingenuous, especially when faced with evil in the finale. Didn’t seem like his heart was in it.
The visuals were stunning but sometimes completely unnecessary. We’ve seen cities bending over on themselves before and it was executed in a much better way (Inception). The soundtrack was easily forgettable, as it is with most Marvel films aside from the X-Men franchise.
From the epic trailer, I thought this film would take itself a little more seriously. You wouldn’t think it from watching, but Cumberbatch actually spent some time in a real Buddhist camp. This film is like The Matrix, if it was directed by a teenage boy. No substance here. I am a fan of The Avengers though, so the post credit scenes were the most enjoyable part of the film for me.
Feature photo: Screen Rant