Doctor, Doctor: Gimme the news – I got a bad case of… Doctor Strange.
This is the latest in a recent series of Marvel mistakes. Benedict Cumberbatch is completely miscast as the easily unlikable Dr. Stephen Strange. He’s an egotistical surgeon doing breakthrough work in the area of nerve regeneration – who’s also had an on-again/off-again relationship with fellow surgeon Christine (played by Rachel McAdams).
Following a major car accident, Strange loses most of the ability to use his hands, so he can no longer do his work as a doctor. Frustrated with traditional science and medicine, he decides to try a mystical approach to healing, traveling to Kathmandu (the film actually makes a reference to the Bob Seger song), where he meets a powerful sorceress (played by Tilda Swinton).
She shows him the “possibilities” – which not only means he might be able to move his fingers again – but, as an added bonus, learn to control time, space, and movement. Strange does obtain mystical powers and joins his new friends in battling the evil dark forces throughout multiple dimensions – while at times, buildings are inverting all around them. “Doctor Strange” is “Inception” meets “Harry Potter” meets “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” – and that’s not meant to be a compliment.
It’s difficult to care about any of these characters, or their ridiculous situations, so it’s tough to even try to make sense of it all. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe this film surpasses “Thor” and “Ant-Man” on the pointlessly silly scale.
Not surprisingly, the performances – including Chiwetel Ejiofor as another wizard in training – are overly-dramatic (Swinton is the only one who kept my interest). The wardrobe is cheesy. The typical, highly intense Marvel score is cranked. The sprinkles of humor fall completely flat. And themes involving the values and flaws of time have been dealt with more effectively in much better movies. Even the Stan Lee cameo doesn’t work.
“Doctor Strange” will likely be embraced by the Marvel fanboys. But for anyone who ISN’T a part of that community – as a standalone, two-hour film – it lacks excitement, energy and electricity. Where’s that portal? – I want my two hours back!
On The Official LCJ Report Card, “Doctor Strange” gets a D. The film critic is out.
Running Time: 115 min.