FlixChatter Review: Doctor Strange (2016)

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I have to admit I wasn’t really anticipating this movie at all. I wasn’t familiar with this character at all and honestly, I have grown a bit tired of seeing Benedict Cumberbatch, though I did like him before he was super famous from playing Sherlock. Now it’s no fault of his but I tend to lose interest fast when an actor becomes overexposed.

In any case, I still went into the screening expecting to be entertained. To a degree, Doctor Strange was a pretty fun movie with some humorous moments. Yet I feel that it treads such familiar grounds. It’s basically similar to Iron Man‘s origin story, but with magic thrown in. We also got a hero who started out as a rich, arrogant genius who suffered a major accident. They also extend their hand just so to exert their power. Perhaps because Iron Man was still a bit of a novelty when it came out 8 years ago in 2008, it made a lot more impact to me and Robert Downey Jr’s performance was quite indelible.

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Stephen Strange’s journey all the way to the Himalayas also reminds me of Batman Begins. But instead of an East-Asian character as The Ancient One, Strange’s spiritual mentor is now a bald woman of Celtic origin with posh British accent (Tilda Swinton). To be honest, all the quantum physics and mysticism concept are lost on me. It was some gobbledygook that never became involving enough to me, though I did get a kick out of the rather comedic Cloak of Levitation. I think my favorite part in the entire movie is when the cloak attaches itself to Strange as he walks on, it was a moment he sort of becomes a superhero.

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Just like the lead, the supporting cast are full of massively accomplished actors. Fellow Oscar-nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor and British actor Benedict Wong are both in the camp of the Ancient One who became Strange’s allies. It’s rare to see an actor named Benedict to begin with, let alone having TWO of them in the same movie! I love the interactions between the two Benedicts, though the Beyonce/Adele joke seems rather out of place in this universe. There’s also the talented Mads Mikkelsen, once again sporting weird eye makeup as a villain, but he’s nowhere near as menacing nor effective as he did in Casino Royale. There is very little character development in this movie and none of the relationships elicit any kind of emotion, especially the one between him and fellow surgeon Christine (a wasted Rachel McAdams). That said, Cumberbatch himself acquits himself well in the role. He certainly has that ‘cocky genius’ thing down pat, though I wouldn’t call Doctor Strange my fave Marvel superhero by a long stretch.

As for the visual effects. I think it’s to be expected that a $165 mil movie would deliver something great to look at. The space visuals is reminiscent of Guardians of the Galaxy, whilst the whole folding architecture thing is slightly more robust than what we’ve seen in Inception. The movie has a a Groundhog day-style finale with a character encountering death over and over again, going against an entirely CG character, a nemesis called Dormammu that’s apparently also voiced by Cumberbatch. It was kind of a ho-hum ending to me, it was neither intriguing nor emotional in the slightest. The plot seems predictable and seems rather ‘convenient,’ and not once do I feel that the hero was in any great danger.

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I generally like Marvel movies, even those I was initially skeptical about like Thor. But overall I was underwhelmed by Doctor Strange. I think it could’ve been a much better film, or at least just a tad more thought-provoking instead of just mildly entertaining. The script (partly written by director Scott Derrickson) just wasn’t provocative, thought provoking nor memorable. I’m feeling generous in rating this one because I do like the cast, though the movie probably more of a 2.5/5 for me. I think it’s one of the weakest MCU movies so far, and I’m honestly flabbergasted by the high Rotten Tomatoes rating! (But then again I think their algorithm is botched. I mean the same exact rating from two reviewers can be fresh or rotten, huh??) In any case, there’s a post-credit scene but by then I have lost interest in this inevitable franchise entirely.

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So, what are your thoughts on ‘Doctor Strange’?

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18 thoughts on “FlixChatter Review: Doctor Strange (2016)

  1. I liked it okay but I certainly don’t see it as some strength of the MCU. The RT score is baffling. It seems to have really worked for a lot of people. Not as much for me.

    1. Hi Keith! I had always been suspicious of the RT score, so I went and looked at the reviews in detail on a couple of movies. I found so many odd ‘discrepancies’ as it were, that made me distrust that site entirely. But then again, I rarely agree w/ mainstream critics anyway. I like Benedict Cumberbatch but I really think he’s so overrated.

    1. Ahah, ‘hipsterish’? I was just being honest about how I feel about overrated actors 😉 Well I figure most people would love this movie more than me, but ah well, it is what it is.

  2. Like I mentioned earlier, this is one of the few super hero films that I don’t have the urge to see right now and I love the genre. I’m sure it looks cool on the big screen and in 3D but I can wait to it hits bluray.

    As for Rotten Tomatoes ratings, it’s so funny to me now that it’s being use as a measuring stick for how good or bad films are these days. Studios have been using the “fresh” rating to promote their films lately, I just had to roll my eyes. The site was started by two Asian guys who only wants to read reviews of Kung Fu films here in the States, they probably never thought it would ballooned up to be where it’s at now.

    1. Yeah, no need to rush to see this one Ted. It’s pretty entertaining but I barely remember much of it afterwards. I like the cast (even w/ the overrated Cumberbatch) but the story is nothing special.

      I didn’t know RT was started by two Asian guys who want to read Kung Fu films! I figure they’re no longer a part of it now? I forgot which major company bought it.

      1. Yeah these two guys who lives somewhere here in the States, loves Kung Fu films but they couldn’t find any reviews of the genre in the US. So they decided to build a site where kung fu film lovers can read reviews of the genre by grabbing reviews from all over the world. Just like any websites/apps, it tends to morphed into something else. They sold it to Filxter back in around 2007 or 2008 and no longer involved in the business anymore. I don’t know how much they sold it for but pretty sure both are set for life financially.

        Warner Bros. bought it from Flixter back in 2010 and now Fandango owns the majority of the site, Warner still owns about 30%.

    1. Hi Allie, oh it’s not that I didn’t enjoy it. I was entertained when I was watching it, though overall it just wasn’t as memorable as other Marvel movies. I didn’t go ‘oooh that was fun, I wouldn’t mind seeing that again!’ kind of feeling.

  3. Surprisingly, I seemed to enjoy this one more than you did. I’m actually suffering with superhero fatigue, so anything that is remotely different grabs my attention immediately. Great review!

    1. I’ve been suffering from ‘superhero fatigue’ for a while now too, though if it’s good, like Civil War was, it still managed to wow me. This one was kinda flat for me, and perhaps my feelings for Benedict kinda affects how I feel about the movie.

  4. I like BC more than you; however, I would like to see him stretch and veer away from the genius spiel. I enjoyed your review and will no doubt find it entertaining when I rent it in five months. There are too many other movies to watch right now!

    1. Hi Cindy! I used to like him a lot before he suddenly appears EVERYWHERE. I get bored easily w/ actors who are over-exposed. In any case, the movie itself is kinda forgettable, though to be fair the two Benedicts (Cumberbatch and Wong) were great! 🙂

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  7. I think Marvel will always struggle to introduce new characters with individual origin stories because it’s been done so many times before and so well. They follow such a formula that they are becoming more and more average, even if Doctor Strange is different enough to stand-out.

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