It would seem that Disney is starting to scrape the bottom of the barrel since all of the most popular Marvel characters (Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Thor) have already received a solo film and inclusion in the Avengers. “Dr. Strange” isn’t the most well-known superhero and this origin film reveals his transformation from neurosurgeon to master of the mystic arts. Unfortunately, it is too much magic and alternate dimensions for my taste. I love superhero movies that I believe could be happening right now throughout the world but I have trouble buying into the cheesy costumes and fantasy elements of films like “Thor” and this one. It is a personal preference but the glaring lack of realism makes it difficult to get into the story. There is another small issue that just didn’t sit right: Benedict Cumberbatch pulls off the American accent well but it feels kind of wrong. I’m sure that many “Sherlock” fans were hoping that this would be Holmes as a superhero but you will not find that in “Doctor Strange.” It’s actually a compliment to Cumberbatch in that he can’t be accused of only being able to play one role. The casting of Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One was smart because she is great in every movie, and once Chiwetel Ejiofor and Rachel McAdams are added into the mix, we end up with a quartet of past Oscar nominees. The acting isn’t at the level that you would expect from this combination of great actors but it helps to bring the story to life. Likewise, Michael Giacchino’s score gets the job done but does not have a memorable superhero theme like most of the recent superhero installments from Marvel and beyond. The positive thing that I can say about this film is that the Oscar nomination for Best Special Effects is well-earned in a highly competitive year for this category. It is so cool to see cities literally turned on their sides and mechanized as well as the glowing weaponry that moves in an organic way. This film isn’t bad but it is one more example of the oversaturation of Marvel film. The origin story has become too formulaic and now it lacks the element of surprise that we experienced during the superhero renaissance 15 years ago. Marvel fans are sure to enjoy “Dr. Strange” but I feel that it lacked the magic (figuratively, not literally) of the superhero movies from a decade ago.
[Pictured: I didn't love the story but the film certainly was not lacking in visual creativity]