Marvel’s 14th entry took the box office domestically and worldwide culminating a whopping $325 million worldwide and $85 million domestically, but the success doesn’t always equate to flawless film making. Disney brought on horror filmmaker Scott Derrickson to take on the origin of the Sorcerer Supreme with gratifying visual splendor only to fall short in what many Marvel films have been missing and that’s a villain worth noting as well as actual stakes in the grand scheme of the plot. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very enjoying film, but something tells me Marvel will need to break this formula at some point.
What the studios don’t need to worry about is their casting agents. Benedict Cumberbatch is the ideal choice for the arrogant Doctor Steven Strange in all his glory. The American accent is spot on and unflinching as is his comedic timing with the talented cast around him. That doesn’t excuse the fact that the film’s premise took inspiration from Asian cultures only to cast a Caucasian actress, while as talented as Tilda Swinton is, there was no point in having her in the role. Would I call whitewashing? No I wouldn’t because Chiwetel Ejiofor’s character was originally white, but I wasn’t sold on the Celtic Ancient One we were given.
The film presents some classic Marvel laughs and scenes, but what does it mean when I know what the punchline is going to be? Predictability and limited character development make for a disappointing ride that focused more on the kaleidoscope portals and dimensions instead of who the heck was in them or conjuring them. It’s something that makes me wonder if the studio really needed the talents of Scott Derrickson to bring such a basic plot to the screen. What I saw visually was spectacular, what I saw in the villain was nearly nonexistent, and exactly what’s wrong with superhero movies of late. There is no need for the villains to be so large and always trying to end the world. There is beauty in intimate storytelling that give the film a sense of risk and tension and I didn’t find an ounce of it anywhere.
Overall, the film is entertaining and will make it’s money, but color me unimpressed. The Inception like CGI was cool for what it was and there were some really cool fight scenes, but between all of that, I found myself just going through the motions yet again. The best part of the film was Cumberbatch as Strange and the end credit scene with a certain character that makes me excited for what is soon to come. Until then, I suggest you treat yourselves to Hacksaw Ridge (Review HERE) and cleanse your pallet of war and destruction with Doctor Strange afterwards.