Doctor Strange, directed by Scott Derrickson. PG-13, 115 minutes. Showtimes at the Laemmle Theatre in the Village can be found here: http://www.laemmle.com/theaters/17
One of the biggest criticisms directed at the recent wave of Marvel superhero films is that they are too formulaic, relying on the same tropes and stories with each successive hero. The first origin story since Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange introduces veteran actors Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Rachel McAdams to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Promising surreal, mind-bending imagery and a relatively darker tone, Doctor Strange seemed poised to break Marvel’s mold of repetition.
Though director Scott Derrickson certainly delivers on the visuals and action, he and his co-writers ultimately do not provide their capable cast with a script deserving of the film’s source material. Cumberbatch’s titular doctor’s personality, along with his character’s arc, are almost identical to Tony Stark’s in 2008’s excellent Iron Man. However, his cheesy jokes fall flat, and his narcissistic tendencies make him neither relatable nor likable.
Swinton, Ejiofor, and Mads Mikkelsen as the film’s villain each bring their unique presences to the film and keep the viewer from losing interest in the story. Also, to Derrickson’s credit, few films have had such distinctively mind-bending action scenes since Inception or The Matrix. Die-hard action or comic book fans who can look past mediocre storylines and unlikeable characters will appreciate the film’s visual choreography and execution. Casual viewers, on the other hand, will likely forget about the film by the time the next Marvel film arrives on screen.