'Doctor Strange'

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I didn't know quite what to expect with "Doctor Strange." I'm not really a comic book fan, although I've read my fair share of Batman and Superman comic books when I was a kid. Those endless reading nights have not followed me to adulthood, but I get it. I get the whole craze. I like much of the stuff that I see when it comes to Marvel movies, but maybe not enough.

Benedict Cumberbatch is well cast as Dr. Stephen Strange and, for a moment there, it looked like the film had a fighting chance. The comedic bits at the setup are freshly conceived and take advantage of Cumberbatch's personality. He and Rachel McAdams have chemistry to spare, she's his assistant at the emergency room, but they quickly get separated for the remainder of the film. 
"Doctor Strange" sets up an arrogant, but bright surgeon who loses function of his hands in a nasty car accident and attempts to gain it back by delving into spiritual mysticsm.  Oh Geez. Tilda Swindon is The Ancient One and teaches him to appreciate life past the fancy cars and womanizing. It feels all too familiar.

The movie's concept of magic is some kind of nonsense about the spiritual manipulation of quantum physics. There is banality in the way not just the filmmakers, but the actors as well buy the banality in their dialogue. The movie is meant to be a mindfuck, but it becomes such a disparaging barrage of nonsense that only a pre-pubescent boyed mindset could possibly salivate its "ideas."

Director Scott Derrickson had at his disposal a unique story to add to the Marvel Universe, but he seems to have had a blueprint to follow the same trajectory as the other Marvel films. 

Don't get me wrong, the visuals are stunning in "Doctor Strange" and deserving of, at the very least, an Oscar nomination, but the movie feels stale and unforgiving. The kaleidoscopic effects are great and work as a kind of tribute to original Dr. Strange concept artist Steve Ditko. The film's clear highlights are the visuals which astound and capture the spirit of the vision at hand. These are action scenes like you have never seen before. The climax, which has another end-of-the-world scenario, a Marvel specialty, unfolds with some much needed freshness by twisting the genre's cliches upside down. If only Derrickson could do more of that with the rest of the movie. 
The villains are also very weak, they don't engage or infuriate you. That's a major problem for a movie that tries to get you involved in tits story. What a waste of thetalents of actors like Mads Mikkelsen and Tilda Swinton, who feel like cliched caricatures. Mikkelsen is a great actor, but his character is severely underwritten. You just don't really hate him enough. The same can be said about the movie, there really is no genuine involvement, no emotional core to build upon for the audience member. 

Known for "Sinister," a underrated horror film, Derrickson shoots the fight sequences with punch-drunk allure, shattering dimension upon dimension and, at times, blowing our minds with staggering visuals of alternate universe after alternate universe. The film is obviously not a disaster, but given the hype and the marketing behind it I expected something much better [C+]
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