(originally published Feb 21, 2017)
Wowzers, I thought Doctor Strange was absolutely terrible.
You can tell they're starting to scrape around the edges here. This is easily the worst Marvel film I've seen, starring the least-likable and most far-fetched character in their overstuffed lineup of sellable action figures brought to life. Doctor Strange feels like a c-list character at best, and Cumberbatch is infuriating as him. Maybe his character learned a lesson during one of the many moments I was put to sleep by this film, but as far as I could tell, he remains an unlikable asshole spouting impossibly contrived pop culture references the whole time, because why wouldn't a magic neurosurgeon who can manipulate dimensions bust out a dank Beyonce reference every now and then?
The whole film is flooded by Inception-esque CG setpieces that look like they came from the cutscene of a sick PS4 game, and are admittedly cool to look at sometimes. Sadly, like most of these films, the over-reliance on CG makes it feel like a stakes-free cartoon for teenagers, and is polluted with fake imagery that no actor can competently act around no matter how much they ham it up. Benedict Cums-in-Batches doesn't even appear to even be trying here, apparently forgetting how to be charming and running on autopilot the whole time. Everyone else is mishandled in typical Marvel fashion, wringing the bare minimum out of otherwise very talented actors.
Clearly I can't win with these films and should probably stop subjecting myself to them, but is this really what passes for a quality blockbuster these days? How is a film with zero good characters, a conflict-free story, contrived writing, and stakes-free action sitting at 90% on Rotten Tomatoes with a 7.3 average rating? Sure, it had neat-looking special effects I guess, but all the colorful computer graphics in the world can't color what is otherwise a paint-by-numbers hero's journey about the shittiest character the Marvel machine has squeezed out of its waste-chute and dropped on the waiting faces of eager fans around the world.