The more movies I watch for review, the easier it is for me to predict what rating I’ll probably give it. Sure, there’s a few surprises here and there; I wasn’t expecting The Light Between Oceans to be so good, and I wasn’t expecting Batman v Superman to be so bad, but for the majority of theatrical reviews, I have been good at predicting what rating I’m going to give it.
And the rating I’m going to give Doctor Strange is the rating I was pretty sure I would give.
Doctor Strange is a good movie. That’s about all I have to say about it. For a movie that’s so topsy-turvy and so intriguing with its visuals, it certainly played the safe route for almost the entire story.
The story itself felt like it was hitting checkpoints on a standard story list, and I was fairly bored for at least the first half hour of the movie. Now it’s not that following a standard movie checklist is always a bad thing, but it is almost never exceptional either.
Benedict Cumberbatch never really shines in this movie. His performance was alright, but they seemed to try to set up his character as a sort of diet-Tony-Stark. He’s rich, good at what he does, arrogantly condescending, and he has a relationship with a woman that’s fairly shallow. Except unlike Tony Stark, the movie never bothers truly delving into anything fascinating about Stephen Strange’s personality. Everything about his character development feels extremely surface level.
In fact, I’m not entirely sure why they bothered so much with giving his backstory so much time. The movie starts becoming somewhat interesting after he goes to find the monk temple and never before.
Rachel McAdams felt extremely out of place in the movie. Her performance isn’t bad either, but the movie failed to make the relationship between her and Strange compelling. The entire time, I felt that she was in the movie because, just like Deadpool, they HAD to shoe in a love story. Except this one felt even more forced than Deadpool. Aside from giving Strange a completely unnecessary love interest, the only other purpose she serves in the plot is temporary spats of comic relief.
The villain in this movie will join the ranks of the forgettable villains of 2016, below Apocalypse and even below Krall. I don’t even remember they guy’s name. Once again, it’s not like his performance is bad, but he’s simply generic.
Tilda Swinton provides a minimal amount of uniqueness to latch onto, but for the most part, she doesn’t provide any sort of riveting material either.
The humor in this movie was relatively forced. The way Strange just kept throwing out pop culture references to all of these culturally-illiterate monks seemed to be done for the sake of comedy, but the lines always felt awkward and out of place.
This movie has a lot of trippy scenes in it with a lot of intricate special effects. All of the special effects had to do with the magic that Strange and all the monks were using.
Now when there’s a large amount of magic that plays into a movie, I find that it works best if a movie goes one of two ways:
They could make very clear and cut rules that are easy to understand, thus allowing the viewer to have a clear grasp of the limitations that are set upon our heroes in villains.
OR, they could throw rules out the window and truly venture into infinite creativity, truly experimenting what humans could do in life with such extreme powers, thus allowing our audience to sit in awe and amusement at the amazing spectacle.
Doctor Strange does neither of these. There’s a few rules but they are hard to truly define, and I never got an idea of just how limitless this magic could be. As I’ve said before, this movie plays it excruciatingly safe. Thus, the movie does nothing wrong because it doesn’t risk anything, but it also never truly does anything interesting with its content. (This is basically the same problem that I have with the Harry Potter movies)
The last ten-to-fifteen minutes of the movie are by far the most fun, most intuitive, and most exploratory.
What Strange does with his magic in these last scenes was interesting and entertaining.
There’s also a joke that references an earlier part of the movie, and it caught me so off guard that I greatly appreciated how natural the joke felt.
And it’s also really the only part of the film that relays any sort of physical or emotional consequences.
Also, the after credit scene was worth watching.
Doctor Strange plays it incredibly safe with everything. Thus, there’s not too much you can find at fault about the movie, but there is nothing of noteworthiness to take away from this movie either. It feels like most already-explored territory, and even though the narrative somewhat stuck together, I was bored because they never took any chances. However, the last fifteen minutes were extremely entertaining. Is it enough to recommend this movie? I’m not sure. Chances are that you will probably like this movie more than me anyway… that’s how these Disney/Marvel movies tend to play out with the general public. I long for the day when people actually hold Disney/Marvel to higher standards so that I don’t have to keep seeing movies that take no chances. Until then, I’m just gonna have to keep pointing it out.