Reviews

Review: Doctor Strange (12A, 1hr 55mins)

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Now that Halloween has been and gone and my thirst for horror films has been quenched (well, I only watched two so it was more of a tickle in my throat than a thirst!), it was time to get back to normality and watch the latest release in the juggernaut that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Doctor Strange is the fourteenth film in this series and anyone in their right mind would think that Marvel would have run out of decent comic books to adapt by now or that audiences would be getting bored of the superhero genre. With DC failing miserably to keep up with their rivals as they release one damp squib after another you wouldn’t be surprised if Marvel, with lax competition, a stranglehold on the market and buoyed by box office smashes and critical acclaim, started to become complacent. With their latest release, Captain America: Civil War, bringing in over a billion dollars at the box office and being raved by fans and critics alike, it seems like the Marvel machine is just getting stronger and stronger. With each success though the pressure surely increases on the studio to at the very least emulate their previous achievements…

…is that a barrel I can hear being scraped?

Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a brilliant neurosurgeon and boy does he know it as he struts his medical stuff around his hospital.  When a car crash leaves his hands irrevocably damaged he travels to Kathmandu to seek the aid of the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), who convinces him that the body will heal itself if he learns the ways of sorcery.  Meanwhile, a former pupil, Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) is destroying the sanctums that protect Earth from invaders from other dimensions.  It soon falls upon Doctor Strange to stop him in his tracks…

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…and my goodness is it dull! You’d think with a set up like that this film would be holding your attention to ransom but I was better entertained by Mrs Film Fluff’s indecision on what Sub Way sandwich she should eat beforehand (other sandwich artisans are available). I try not to go into too much detail on the plot of a film to avoid spoilers but it really is as paper thin as the paragraph above suggests, and the few plot developments that aren’t revealed in this review or in trailers are either a) predictable and/or b) unengaging. It has stunning visual effects but they are so complex and intricate in the fast-paced action scenes that you can’t fathom what’s going on or whose winning the fight! When Doctor Strange meets the antagonist of the piece for the first time most of their battle is shot in a dark corridor with people moving inhumanly quick and Blackpool Illuminations whizzing and popping around the screen like thousands of LSD-infused games of Pong! How anyone watched this in 3D without their head exploding is a mystery to me…

On the plus side, Cumberbatch was well cast as Strange and Chiwetel Ejiofor adds a level of class with his portrayal of Mordo. Tilda Swinton shines as the Ancient One and the ever reliable Mads Mikkelsen does well with what he is given. It’s such a shame that this film wastes all their talents on such a derisory script. They are all some of the best actors working in their field and they should be more selective with their film roles. Don’t get me started on the Christine Palmer role. Rachael McAdams played the part with as much professionalism that she could muster but it was just another two-dimensional love interest that doesn’t deserve screen time.

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This is an unwelcome return to the Marvel days of old, where they were just churning out films that were no more than glossy, vacuous jigsaw pieces whose only purpose was to be “set up” for the bigger Avengers picture. It’s not quite as hollow as the Thor films, but it is down there with them, and it doesn’t reach the same level of basic incompetency as other superhero movies that have been released this year, but this whiffs of Marvel resting on their laurels and taking their foot off the gas, and that’s a worrying projection for their films post-Infinity War

How about ending on a high, eh Marvel?

05/10.

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One thought on “Review: Doctor Strange (12A, 1hr 55mins)

  1. Every so often Marvel releases a lack-lustre super hero movie, and I start to believe that its the end of an era, just as you describe here. then suddenly they come out with a few fantastic films again. I don’t know what to think anymore, will it ever end? It has to eventually…

    Liked by 1 person

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