Review: ‘Doctor Strange’ a mixed bag
A cast of Oscar pedigree actors spends their time waving their hands, conjuring up spells and stepping through dimensional portals in “Doctor Strange,” an entertaining, if slight, Marvel thrill ride.
It has the attitude of “Iron Man,” the knockout visuals of “Inception,” the pseudo-mysticism of “The Matrix” and the Eastern philosophies of “Batman Begins.” All of which make it feel more than a little familiar, but at least put it in good company.
Benedict Cumberbatch is a slam dunk as Dr. Stephen Strange, a cocky rock star surgeon who can tell you Chuck Mangione’s “Feels So Good” was released in December 1977 (although it didn’t chart until 1978) while he’s in the middle of performing surgery.
His world is shattered when he’s in a horrific car crash that badly damage his steady hands. A quest to find a cure leads him to Katmandu — yes, there’s a Bob Seger joke, courtesy of an otherwise wasted Rachel McAdams — where Strange meets the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) and Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who school him in ancient magic and dimension hopping.
Then he has to save the world, blah, blah, blah from a team of baddies led by Mads Mikkelsen’s Kaecilius. There’s a bunch of mumbo jumbo about sorcerers and whatnot, which weigh down the screenplay like an anchor.
Cumberbatch is wildly charismatic in the lead role; as the Marvel Universe unfurls, it will be a hoot to see him share scenes with Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark.
But that’s the thing: He’s a better party guest than he is a host. “Doctor Strange” is a fine introduction, but by the end, you’re not sad to be headed for the door.
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi violence and action throughout, and an intense crash sequence
Running time: 115 minutes