3/11/16, Dr Strange
I entered the Imax amphitheatre of Cineworld with 3D glasses on, sat back and was blown away; Dr Strange is a film that deserves to be watched in 3D, in an Imax cinema. For visual effects, I've seen nothing like this before, not even The Matrix or Inception.
Having said that, I'm still trying to work out the empty feeling I had by the end of the film. I have seen superhero movies that left me wanting more: Batman Begins, Batman Dark Knight, Ironman 1, all great films. Dr Strange isn't at the same level. I don't think it's the cast, which is strong. I admit there were moments when I wasn't sure what was happening, fight scenes from nowhere, especially. The villains were cartoon-evil; Mads Mikkelson's character is two—dimensional, with evil eyes that even the protagonist mocks him for. Perhaps this is the film's failure: Batman Begins had Cillian Murphy's 'Scarecrow' and a gang of convincing, charismatic mobsters; Batman Dark Knight had the nihilism of Heath Ledger's Joker, and Ironman 1 had ambiguous Jeff Bridges and a cave full of believably fanatical Afghan soldiers. But the villains in Dr Strange are too blandly evil, without backstory. There is something about Mikkelson's character having 'turned' to the dark side, but we don't see that development. So this is where the film fell down for me, but I'd still recommend it for anyone wanting to rest back in their chair and go 'wow'.As for the villain-problem in general, I'd like to add it's a major issue that defines superhero movies for me. I remember the third of Nolan's Batman Dark Knight trilogy and despite the film's many flaws, the biggest problem was the villain, Bane. In being a glorified cage fighter, he turned the movie into an implausible giant cage-fight (why didn't anyone just shoot him?). This is also an issue with superheroes in general; most are super because of some physical attribute, but to create a film that relies on a physical solution gets a bit tiresome and simplistic, because life is rarely solved with brute force (just look at the Iraq war). This is when the superhero's alter-ego comes into its own: Nolan's Batman was played by Christian Bale – a likeable action star in his own right – and Ironman, of course, has the constant quipping of Robert Downey Jr. Just as importantly, the backing cast make a difference; Bale has Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, while Downey Jr has Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeff Bridges to play off, meaning you can have entertaining and funny / intriguing scenes without even the superhero. Perhaps this too is where Dr Strange fell down a little, in the second half, when Benedict Cumberbatch assumes the identity of Dr Strange full time. We stop seeing his flawed, human side, and the interaction with human colleagues. The first half of the film, when we see Cumberbatch's character struggling to deal with the loss of his surgical skills, is far more engaging.