Unlike regular reviews, micro-reviews are more condensed and only include a single overall rating score.
– Spoilers below –
Continuing my compulsion to critically evaluate my free in-flight entertainment, I move on to one of Marvel’s more recent films, Doctor Strange. The movie stars Benedict Cumberbatch as the good doctor himself, an esteemed yet arrogant neurosurgeon who suffers a devastating physical injury (his own fault), and in seeking a cure for his condition Strange comes upon wielders of Mystic Arts and trains to harness the powers of the many dimensions to help heal himself. Yeah, plot’s a bit out there.
To be fair, though, I was actually really digging this movie for the first half. Strange is admittedly a less likable and less financially well-off Tony Stark. Still, the character’s humor and the movie’s own indulgence in the plot’s ridiculousness helped the movie stand out from other Marvel movies, which often tread a dangerously linear and predictable path with their narratives. That’s not to say this movie isn’t linear and predictable; it definitely is. But it at least went in with some unorthodox flair that really helped the movie pop.
However, by the end of the movie, I was much less enthusiastic. The antagonists were bland and unoriginal, the supporting cast was essentially a group of background extras given lines only because of union demands, and Strange’s near-mastery of so many powers borders a bit too much on unbelievable, even with his exceptional memory and talent. There’s a time-skip, and while sources claim that the skip takes place over several years, the duration isn’t made totally clear in the movie. Strange’s mastery would make a bit more sense in that case, but since the movie doesn’t really help the audience out there, the skip could be anywhere from months to years to anyone not familiar with every little detail of the Marvel universe.
The movie does make a bold move with the execution of its climactic “battle,” but it’s one that doesn’t really pay off (but still earns the film some credit). The concept of the climax was fine, but we needed to see a little bit of a true action first. After all, we really never got to see Wong fight that I can recall, and that’s a huge letdown.
In the end, the movie just didn’t seem to be able to stick the landing completely, loaded down with an uninteresting cast and a rapid-fire of bizarre concepts during the second act. Like most Marvel movies, it’s a decent chunk of entertainment, but it carries with it a slew of problems. Granted, its problems are actually different than those of most other Marvel movies, and there’s something to be said for that alone.
- Excellent performance by Cumberbatch
- Entertaining despite its unnecessary complexity and bland cast
- Breaks away from standard formula in third act
- Some pretty cool visuals
- Underused supporting cast
- Bland antagonists
- Can be difficult to follow at times due to a myriad of underexplained concepts
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