By Dustin Cabeal
Finally finding the time to see Doctor Strange I felt the overwhelming need to review the film. I’ve had an interest in this film since its announcement and casting because A) I like Benedict Cumberbatch and B) I wanted to see who Marvel would handle an unknown character in their cinema universe.
When my wife and I decided upon the film, she asked me the following question, which I think is a testament to Marvel’s marketing: “Who’s Doctor Strange?”
Which is a valid question because looking at the trailers… it’s not one that’s answered for you. It’s not like Ant-Man in which you figure out he shrinks and has ant stuff going on. Rather it’s magic… there’s magic things going on… but what the fuck does Strange have to do with it all?
I’m not going, to sum up, the story. It’s the only origin that Doctor Strange has, and it’s hollow and lacks any character growth or development. Thor has more character development… and that movie has him not able to pick up his hammer, sacrifice his life for his friends… and then he’s able to pick up his hammer.
The story is generic. It follows the Marvel formula, and I’m honestly sorry for whoever “directed” it since it was likely in name alone. Calling it cookie cutter isn’t even an insult since that’s clearly what everyone wanted from the movie.
The pacing of the film goes as such, meet the main character and his love interest, accident, redemption, an unlikely hero, believe in yourself, victory in the end. Sprinkled in between all this is humor. I thought Dan Harmon was supposed to be funny? A Mister Doctor joke? Are you fucking kidding me?
The film never stops trying to be funny. It’s gag after gag after gag, which is funny because that’s what a lot of the jokes made me want to do. Part of it was the writing; they were just bad jokes because the story and the world are weak. The other part that failed the comedy was Cumberbatch. Off camera and in front of another camera, he’s a funny dude. This style of comedy didn’t mesh with his personality, his acting and the type of character Marvel wanted him to be. Does the Marvel Universe really need another snarky, wise-cracking character? I mean, which fucking character did I just describe? All of them? All of them.
Going back to the weakness of the world created, because they are still world building here, the threat never seemed big or scary. Say what you will about the rest of the Marvel films, the threat to the character or the danger of the situation feels real to the world. A threat to this world is just constantly mentioned, but when they have the chance to show it… it lasts for maybe a minute. Show, don’t tell. The rest is just “we protect the world from constant threat,” but then the bad guy is just a giant distorted head… scary. Scary that someone thought that a giant purple head with distortion lines was scary.
When I first learned of Dormammu, it was scary. He seemed like a character that was never defeated and always just barely kept at bay. That was cool. This movie would have you believe that a simple time loop would defeat him and that he would agree to a verbal bargain… say what now?
At the end, the movie is forced to not only set up another film with a Mario Bros style second credit ending, but it also lets you know when you’ll see Strange on the big screen again. They practically turn to the camera and say “he’ll be back in Thor 3”, which I will be skipping based on the fact that Thor and Strange were making the same joke back and forth and I forgot who was who since it was the same damn character. The sequel takes one of two minorities in film and turns them into a bad guy. Yay, so proud of your diversity Marvel.
This film reminded me why I stopped watching Marvel films. DC films are at least interesting train wrecks because they don’t have a formula, but the Marvel films continue to feel like I’m watching the same damn movie over and over with different actors and props copy and pasted into the script. There was nothing fun about watching Doctor Strange because I had already seen the film ten other times. If you’re desperate for a Marvel film, then you already saw it, but if you were holding out for the holidays, see something else. Anything else, even a sequel.
Director: Scott Dickerson
Writers: Jon Spaihts, Scott Dickerson
Studio: Marvel Studio