Doctor Strange (2016)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 11/6/16
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton, Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen, Scott Adkins, Benjamin Bratt

Disappointing. I never imagined anyone in the Marvel Universe being more of a despicable asshole than Tony Stark, but Dr. Strange proved me wrong. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a brilliant, but intensely dislikable neurosurgeon, whose hands become crippled in a car accident. When modern medicine fails to rehabilitate him, he journeys to Nepal in a desperate attempt to spiritually heal himself. A sorcerer named Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) takes pity on him and introduces him to The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), who reluctantly schools him in the mystic arts. His education is cut short when a threat from the dark dimension attacks Earth, which forces Strange to abandon his ego and sacrifice himself for the sake of the world. Ironically, being an insufferable dick for all eternity is what finally saves Earth from utter annihilation.

It's certainly a visually stunning film, but the story is a jumbled mess, the characters are unlikable, and the humor is forced and not funny. Benedict Cumberbatch does a fine job as Dr. Strange, but the character is detestable and he's not very endearing. Tilda Swinton is superb as The Ancient One, and her presence is so commanding that you can't take your eyes off of her. Unfortunately, the shape of her mouth is a constant distraction. I've never been a fan of Rachel McAdams, but she does a wonderful job as the long suffering Dr. Christine Palmer and is the only reasonable and likable character in the film. Mads Mikkelsen makes a formidable and worthwhile villain, and Scott Adkins makes a brief cameo as one of his lackeys. The action scenes are visually overwhelming, and it's difficult to take everything in. With the obligatory origin story out of the way, it will be interesting to see how Marvel moves forward with the character. Much like Captain America, he might work better in an ensemble setting.