‘Doctor Strange’ is the second of the two MCU movies to be released this year and the fourteenth in the overall canon. With so many films coming before it now and none less than the fan boy favourite ‘Captain America: Civil War’ only a few months previous this latest Marvel offering had plenty to live up to. So would the introduction of a new character and story make a refreshing change or is this a step too far from what we know and love about the MCU?
As it would be expected being the first film with the titular character the narrative is really an origin story. We’ve seen no less than three origin stories already in the MCU, arguably more if you include ‘Thor’ & ‘The Incredible Hulk’, each being wildly entertaining whilst helping to establish now much loved characters. However for me ‘Doctor Strange’ was far from this. The film takes so long to get going and I found myself being massively uninterested in everything on screen. Aside from the beginning of the film I thought that the narrative as a whole lacked the fun and excitement of other films in the MCU, especially in the action sequences which I will explain later in this review. I think one of the main reasons that I struggled with the story came down to the fact that I really disliked the character of Stephen Strange. I don’t think it’s always necessary for main characters to be likeable in films but in this universe if you can’t back the ‘hero’ I just don’t see the point. This is no criticism of Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance as I thought he did fine, much like the rest of the cast but generally I just didn’t like the characters as they were so generic. I am going to stop getting excited when these Marvel films cast such wonderful actors, such as Mads Mikkelsen, in the villainous roles as once again they fail to do anything interesting with the baddie here. The use of these characters fulfills a basic story we’ve seen a million times before and unfortunately Strange’s journey from student to master appears to come with no real struggle, making it seem undeveloped and largely quite dull. The dialogue used throughout the run time is either made up of sorcery mumbo jumbo or proverb style quotes about leaving the past behind and becoming a new you. The combination of all this made for a surprisingly boring endurance test.
I’ll admit that the film does look very good, props has to go to the team who were behind the special effects for this film. However I did find the choice of colour and design a little garish at times but for the most part this film is a treat for the eyes. These visuals are mainly present in the action sequences which have clearly been well choreographed and edited after filming. It’s a shame that none of them worked for me though. I find the subject matter of the film, magic, and it’s endless impossibilities to remove every ounce of tension and suspense that these sequences might have had. When it seems that characters can do anything there just aren’t any stakes to these moments and the whole thing becomes so monotonous. I couldn’t even distract myself with the music accompanying these scenes as the score is a disgraceful rip off of the recent theme from the rebooted ‘Star Trek’ films, the similarities are undeniable. As well as this, and unusually so for a Marvel film, I found that nearly none of the humour landed. There are a few so bad, that they are good jokes throughout but generally the gags were falling flat and the audience’s, who I watched this with, silence told me that I wasn’t the only one that the comedy wasn’t working for. Maybe magic just isn’t for me but I found the whole thing a little silly, silly, in a world with a man who talks to ants and the big green guy I hear you ask!? Unfortunately so, just too many elements failed to do their jobs here and I can’t say I enjoyed watching this film.
In a rare misfire from Marvel, it was bound to happen sooner or later, ‘Doctor Strange’ is the lowest point in the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far. With the core narrative being so poorly thought through and lacking any real engaging substance the film struggles from the get go. It can’t even rely on the usually strong music or humour we’ve come to love and expect in these movies. The work and effort gone into the film can be seen in the visuals and action sequences but it’s a shame that in the way they are brought to screen they can’t even be enjoyed as part of the overall narrative. The mid credits scene is the best thing about the whole film but not worth sitting through the massive disappointment that this was for me. Hopefully you’ll be able to find more enjoyment out of it than I did.
Rating – 4/10
Question: What is your least favourite film in the MCU so far?
(Leave your answers in the comments section below!)
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