First of all, I generally like Marvel's films. They manage to put out new stories virtually every year and incorporate new characters into their ensemble. They've also mastered the art of masking each film as original and fresh, and for the most part it's just a fun time at the cinema. But the problem is that eventually, while you will always be able to pick new heroes from the massive wealth Marvel has created through comics, the formula, the acting, the uninspired scripts and classic gimmicks will become stagnant and even begin to bore the audience.
I wanted to like Doctor Strange, and I, too, was convinced by the trailers that it would be captivating and interesting and thought- provoking. But twenty minutes into the movie and I could already tell how this was probably going to go.
The acting was to be expected given the cast they chose, but nothing stood out. Benedict Cumberbatch played a convincing Doctor Strange, but his character was completely static - I felt no indication that he had changed in the slightest by the end of the film (which is what the filmmakers were lazily trying to portray), and I couldn't even figure out why he suddenly wanted to fight the enemy in the first place. The rest of the characters were poorly fleshed out, and I found myself caring little for any of them, a phenomenon that did not occur when I watched "Iron Man" or "Guardians of the Galaxy". The jokes and wise-cracks felt especially childish this time around, and even out of place in the face of sincerely substantial ideas such as alternate dimensions and the fabric of time and space. Additionally, the pace simply felt rushed and awkward, and like I said before, I just couldn't find myself caring for any of the one- dimensional, superficial characters.
The plot was formulaic, which is typical and expected of Marvel; hero suddenly has powers, hero is confronted by conflict larger than himself, hero acts selflessly to save the day and the girl, hero returns and the film ends with some good old fashioned comic relief (Wang laughing, in this case). Normally I could enjoy this, but combined with the tepid acting, shallow characters and strange pacing, the whole plot and film just felt... tired. Even with the great visuals (which were truly impressive and to the benefit of the movie), I simply didn't enjoy it. I wanted more, a more interesting script that had at least a couple memorable or provocative lines rather than none, a stronger character arc, a better and more menacing villain (spoilers aside, the final confrontation was COMPLETELY underwhelming and mildly ridiculous), and, all-in-all, a more enticing movie.
I really think "Doctor Strange" could have been a lot better of a film, but I feel like the filmmakers were just flat-out lazy this time around. While I do recognize the cash-cow that is Marvel, I just hope this isn't the beginning of the end for their good movies, movies with at least a little bit of substance. They still plan to cram over a dozen heroes into Infinity War, and if as little heart and care is put into it as was put into this one, it could be a very bad, shallow, exhausted film.
3.5/10 for great visuals and a relatively coherent plot.