I stopped following the Marvel movies (not counting X-Men) a while ago. I just wasn’t enjoying them, so I moved on. Still, the trailers for Doctor Strange intrigued me with their spectacularly surreal special effects. It slipped off my radar and I wound up missing it in the theatre, but now that it’s one Netflix, I figured it was worth a try.
Doctor Strange does truly have jaw-dropping special effects. This is one of the best looking movies ever made.
When it comes to everything else, though… sheesh.
Let me just start by summarizing the beginning of the movie.
Desperate for a way to fix his injured hands, brilliant but arrogant
industrialist brain surgeon Tony Stark Steven Strange hears one word from some random dude on a basketball court and then proceeds to fly to Katmandu (!), where his strategy is to just wander around asking random people.
Amazingly, this actually works, and he’s brought to the leader of the sorcerous monastery he flew halfway around the world to find, who for some reason is a white British lady, and upon being told she can provide the miracle cure he seeks, he begins berating her for offering miracle cures.
And it just goes on like that. For two hours.
There’s just so many plot holes and inconsistencies it’s impossible to even keep track of them all. Characters’ beliefs and views change radically from moment to moment with no explanation given.
I’m starting to realize that Marvel films aren’t really stories. They just seem to be collections of scenes that seemed entertaining or amusing hammered together without rhyme or reason. There’s no themes here, no heart to the story. It’s a drunken pen meandering across the page with no destination in mind.
Insomuch as the movie seems to have any theme, it seems to be the Ancient One’s lesson to Strange: “It’s not about you.”
Except it is. The entire movie is about Dr. Strange just waltzing through every challenge through his own inherent awesomeness. No one else matters. Nothing else matters. It’s just a shrine to how amazing he is. The message the movie is trying to sell is completely at odds with every other part of it.
Also, I’m getting really tired of stories about cocky assholes who Break All the Rules™ and still succeed because they’re Just That Good™. Wouldn’t it be nice to see more heroes who triumph through hard work and good judgment?
Oh, yeah, and of course he’s got a love interest, and she’s on screen for maybe three minutes (I exaggerate, but not by much). I tend to feel that the Bechdel Test isn’t something that always needs to be taken literally, but this movie probably should have.
To be fair, Doctor Strange does improve significantly in the last half hour or so. Strange himself actually displays some genuine growth (even if it comes out of nowhere with no apparent justification), and his solution to defeat the Big Bad is pretty clever (even if it’s odd no one thought of that before now).
I also quite liked the villain, Kaecililus. He had a lot of charisma, and for a good chunk of the movie I spent more time cheering for him than for Strange.
But those things aren’t enough to fully redeem to movie.
Overall rating: 5.5/10