For Reel

Doctor Strange (2016)
November 21, 2016, 2:18 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Scott Derrickson
3 Stars
doctor-strangeMarvel’s most consistent major weakness is that its action scenes are rarely memorable, typified most glaringly by the bloated climax of Avengers: Age of Ultron. Similarly, the Avengers films (and most recently, Captain America: Civil War) do much to balance their narrative moving parts without paying much attention to the film’s formal qualities—unless there’s a requisite Easter egg in the background, one can expect flatly lit actors having a conversation in shot-reverse-shot. Doctor Strange, then, was in its conception a brilliant rebuttal—the first of the universe in which the spectacle is established not by the players involved, but by the promise that it will offer things that a viewer hasn’t seen before. Strange‘s Escher-like action set pieces, in which magician-like warriors battle it out amongst a cityscape the collapses in on itself, avoid the generic entrapments of final act destruction by offering the very opposite—a surreal reassembling of parts. Despite the strengths of these sequences, however, Strange‘s biggest pitfall occurs with the transformation of the eponymous hero from brash neurosurgeon to world savior. If the actors are game, their personal motivations are reduced to hollow expository dialogue. While the world of the film argues that doing what Strange does by the film’s climax is tough stuff, the vagueness of the transition could have one think he did it in a long weekend. Marvel’s characterization of Captain America is perhaps the studio’s best because it involves one man’s fixed worldview being subjected to a world of increasingly complex morality, whereas their attempts to tell more dynamic arcs often result in messy, unknowable personas.

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