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Doctor Strange

December 10, 2016

Doctor Strange (2016)
Director: Scott Derrickson
Actors: Benedict Cumberbatch, Mads Mikkelsen, Tilda Swinton

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Synopsis: Dr Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), a genius neurosurgeon, has a life-defining car accident which deprives him of the dexterity in his hands that enables him to perform his surgery. This sends him on an odyssey to Nepal and an encounter with a mystical being who enables him to master energies and dimensions.

Review: It’s extremely rare that I lament the time I invest in my cinephilia; I’m not a film snob, and can almost always find some nugget of value or enjoyment in even the most hokum and trashy of Hollywood numbers. Departing my local multiplex today after two hours of the utter fanboy drivel they call Doctor Strange was one of those (thankfully, infrequent) cases in point though.

Don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed some of the superhero iterations over the years – although this is a rapidly dwindling return by now. Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan’s polar imaginings of the Batman story were generally excellent, and I have a real soft spot for the Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire Spider-Man run that has only magnified due to the sheer cynicism of having two new reboots with Andrew Garfield and Tom Holland in less than ten years since Maguire hung up the lycra for the last time. Sadly, Doctor Strange really is irredeemable superhero pap – a blatant exercise in brand management, and just another package from the conveyer belt of prototypical ‘origin’ superhero movies with crap CGI and a relentless, tedious cacophony of action sequences where nothing ever really feels at stake. And before some fanboy shouts me down about the wonders of the kaleidoscopic, multi-dimensional graphics – unless linked to the ethics and emotions of the piece (à la Inception) it’s just inane technological guffaw.

Even the “nudge nudge, wink wink” irreverent irony of a Robert Downey Jr, Tom Hiddleston, Chris Hemsworth (or, in this case, Benedict Cumberbatch) is wearing a bit thin. The thing to remember is that these guys are doing these superhero turns as career stepping stones, for staggering paychecks – and as a nice boost to the old vanity as well. What’s funny about Doctor Strange is just how awful Tilda Swinton and Chiwetel Ejiofor are in it: you can almost sense the desperation in their face; clinging on grimly to the remembrance of their salary as they spout their latest pseudo-mythical babble against a blue screen. (December 2016)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Charles Mandritis permalink
    February 1, 2017 9:57 pm

    Mr Nabarro- I cannot help but feel as though it is your lack of interest in the superhero genre that makes you scold such a film so harshly and while I appreciate everybody’s perspective on the film, i’ve heard mostly positive remarks about Ejiofor and Swinton’s acting. Furthermore, I don’t think the actors’ salary has any effect on the movie but instead their performance in a role. Additionally, I think that this movie is more of a film for the comic-fans and it shouldn’t be judged so harshly by someone who has no evident care for the genre. Either way, I appreciate having the pleasure to view the movie from another cinephile’s perspective.

  2. February 4, 2017 10:13 am

    Good to hear from you Charlie! I think that’s entirely my point: that it’s a work for fans, thus primarily a commercial endeavour. Hence ignore my curmudgeonly tone if you’re in this category. However, I think it’s reasonable to take a step outside that fan bubble and call it out for what it is. True I’m not much of a superhero devotee though I think I do mention my admiration of Burton’s Batman movies and Raimi’s Spider-Man ones. I’m even revisiting Nolan’s Dark Knight series this weekend…

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