‘Doctor Strange’ Review: Marvelous rehash
Scott Derrickson’s Doctor Strange is very entertaining. However, the movie is far from strange or bizarre.
In the film, the titular egocentric neurosurgeon (Benedict Cumberbatch) gets into an accident that robs him of the use of his hands. He resorts to the mystic arts as his last hope, but this leads him elsewhere.
It is actually just very typical, which is exactly what it needs to be to take its place alongside all the superhero movies that have come and gone throughout the years.
Marvelous at times
So Doctor Strange is not strange, but it is sometimes marvelous.
When Stephen Strange finally meets The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), the film immediately plunges into a mind-bending, trippy sequence that effectively uses Cumberbatch to psychedelic effect.
That sequence is only topped by the chase scenes that has Strange, now armed with a sentient crimson Cloak of Levitation and destructive spells, jumping and flying amidst cityscapes that fold against each other. Derrickson, whose previous directorial gigs include horror-courtroom drama hybrid The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005) and the lackluster sci-fi The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008), churns out coherent and kinetic action sequences with the assistance of first-rate special effects. (READ: 'Internet's boyfriend,' Doctor Strange Benedict Cumberbatch, keeping it real)
From the perspective of pure visual pleasure, Doctor Strange certainly delivers. There is more than enough razzle-dazzle to deflect all the mumbo-jumbo that covers its overly familiar roots.
Apart from its truly beguiling cosmetic adornments, Doctor Strange bears very little difference from the many origin stories that have been released, remade, rebooted, and rehashed before it. In fact, Strange is a character so utterly like Iron Man or any other privileged spoiled brat who, through some sort of tragedy, discovers a superhuman trait. The effort to tell his backstory feels redundant.
There are certainly some nice touches.
In the very few scenes where she appears, Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams), Strange’s love interest, conveys a semblance of realism that is rare in comic book characters. She is that non-superhuman character like May Parker of Spider-Man that is estranged from all the supernatural things happening, refreshingly grounded to her mundane life and livelihood. Sure, she gets shocked by all the weird things that are suddenly happening around her, but she does not linger more than she needs. She’s just there as a reminder of the ordinariness that Strange left behind.
Sadly, the movie’s other characters are all uninterestingly written stereotypes, saved from obscurity by the skill of the talented thespians portraying them.
Strange is only an intriguing and charming hero because Cumberbatch plays him with measured intelligence. The Ancient One is graduated from being just another all-knowing cliché by Swinton’s delicious ambivalence. Kaecilius, the movie’s indubitably dull villain, has a curious scene where Mads Mikkelsen, the gifted Danish actor playing him, grants him a bid at humanity, no matter how tainted.
Doctor Strange is a fun ride. There is no denying that. It is also spectacular, extremely well-acted, and action-packed. The only problem here is that it does not break new ground, and it doesn’t venture to stranger territories, as advertised.
You’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. That has always been the nagging feeling when you watch a superhero movie. Doctor Strange doesn’t change that. It doesn’t even try. – Rappler.com
Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas' 'Tirad Pass.' Since then, he's been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema.