Directed By: Scott Derrickson
Written By: Jon Spaihts, Scott Scott Derrickson
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams
Run Time: 1 Hour, 55 Minutes
Release Date: November 4th, 2016
Link to IMDb
This is an odd one for me.
On one hand, we have one of the most generic and forgettable movies in the MCU. On the other, we have one of the most visually distinct and creative in the series, with one of the most fun and creative climaxes. While I can certainly see the flaws (as they’re about as subtle as a 95 year old man’s bowel movements) I can’t help but love this movie. In fact, it’s one of my favorites in the MCU.
Let’s start with what may be the strongest aspect, at least for me: Benedict Cumberpatch as Steven Strange. Benny Cumbernickle is one of my favorite actors out there. He has an incredible range of emotional expression, his collection of accents are all solid, and his attention to detail is absurd. For example, when filming the motion capture for Smaug in the Hobbit movies, he slithers about and flexes his fingers like claws. That attention to detail brings his characters to life better than most other actors. You can tell that he’s giving it all, and it comes across perfectly in his performances.
He is perfectly cast as Strange. He looks the part, makes the material work with wonderful effect, and he pays attention to the little details. Just look at his hands! At no point in the movie after the accident do they stop shaking violently! Whenever he’s making his hocus pocus circles, you can always see a quiver in this fingers.
This may seem completely inconsequential, but it’s worth pointing out that not many actors pay that much attention to detail. But when they do, it brings the character to life.
I also adore the film’s visuals. A few days ago, I praised Ant-Man for it’s creative visuals. But Doctor Strange blows the bug man out of the water and into the stratosphere! Sure, the cinematography is still pretty flat, but those visual effects are trippy as hell!
Seriously, get drunk, high or both and watch this with some friends. You’ll have a hell of a time.
Just be sure to do so in safe and legal means. I don’t want you guys hurting yourselves or breaking the law.
Getting back on topic, I’m a huge fan of this movie’s climax. Firstly, because we got mother fucking Dormammu in a movie! How fucking rad is that?! Second: it makes perfect use of both the movies visuals and Strange’s intelligence. Most Marvel movies end with the big explosive final battle between hero and villain. Here? The hero outsmarts the villain in order to win!
Plus, the “Dormammu! I’ve come to bargain!” montage is fucking phenomenal. It’s easily one of my favorite scene in the entire MCU.
However, while the positives are incredibly strong, they’re still bogged down by… Well, basically everything else. The story is as predictable as the shape of a cookie after introducing it to a cookie cutter, with one of the weakest villains in the entire MCU (wouldn’t it have been cooler to have Dormammu just be in the villain instead of this edge lord mother fucker?).
Outside of the visually fantastic settings they take place in, the fight scenes lack any creative or interesting choreography. Come on, you guys can cast thousands of different kinds of spells and you elect to go with the magic karate whips?! Drop meteors on them or some shit!
I miss Iron Man 3…
Back on topic, the movie is also bogged down by other similar Marvel problems. Despite it’s incredible and distinct visual effects, the cinematography is still flat and devoid of creativity. The camera doesn’t aid the visuals at all, which is a shame, as creative and interesting camera movements and shot composition could’ve made the movie even more visually distinct!
The film also suffers from an incredibly weak supporting cast. Aside from Strange himself, not a single character is all that interesting or memorable. You might say, “Wait, what about Wong? He was cool!” and to that I say, “Yes he was. In Infinity War.” Without looking at the IMDb page, I don’t think I could name more than three characters.
Those three being Strange, Wong and Dormammu. And again: Wong’s only on there because of Infinity War. Even then, he still barely made that short list.
Strange’s character development also felt rushed and not thought out. Within a day, this man of medicine and science throws all that out the window and says “Fuck it, I’m a sorcerer now!” Wouldn’t it have been cool to see him try to combine his medical knowledge with magic to create something new? Or to see him truly struggle in letting go of his prior knowledge and science and truly embrace the mystic arts?
Well too bad. We get none of that. Instead, we see him study and master magic quicker than any one else because… he’s good at reading quickly. That’s how that works, right? Maybe if I just read a couple books on sports, I’ll become competent at them!
Maybe then the athletic kids from high school won’t hate me anymore…
Poor memories from my school days aside, this movie is heavily flawed in many of the typical Marvel ways. But, as low as those lows get, I can’t help but love it. Those highs are damn high, and they make up for the lows. If you haven’t seen it yet, then I’d recommend you check it out. It’s flawed in many ways, but it’s a fun time nonetheless.
Especially if you’re drunk. But I’m a brewing alcoholic, so… take what I say with a grain of salt.