The latest installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe takes us beyond the realm of our reality and twists the very fabric of matter and space – but is it any good?
Firstly, we must address the elephant in the room. Take nothing away from Tilda Swinton in her role as The Ancient One, but there has been understandable concern that her portraying a traditionally Asian character represents white-washing that particular role. Marvel are on record as saying they wanted to avoid Asian stereotypes, but they have also acknowledged the reaction from fans. It remains to be seen how they will handle similar issues in the future.
That aside, there are one or two glaring faults with the film that I wish to address right away – well, ok, one glaring fault – Benedict Cumberbatch’s American accent. No one can doubt his prowess as an actor – not only is he universally acclaimed for his portray of Sherlock Holmes, but he was also nominated for (among other awards) an Oscar for his role of tortured code cracker Alan Turing, and has received numerous other nominations and awards during his career. He is unlikely to receive any such nominations for his performance here, even though his performance isn’t bad per se. Maybe I am just being nitpicky, but his American accent wasn’t great, and felt very forced. Part of me wondered during the film if it would have been better for the character of Stephen Strange to be British this time around, in order to spare us the bad accent.
That said, the film, overall, works, though it feels a little flat. There isn’t really any moment that feels tense or dramatic (a growing theme with MCU films, as you know well in advance there will be a sequel or ensemble movie), but as is normal with these films, they are polished productions and the SFX is flawless. All in all though, Strange’s journey from high-flier, to desperate loner, to student, to master, all feels a little rushed. There might have been scope for this story to be broken down into two movies, but the demands of the MCU are such that they are rapidly gearing up for Infinity Wars, and unfortunately this doesn’t allow time for characters to develop in a more organic fashion.
It’s watchable. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad film. Nor is it a great one. It is distinctly middle-of-the-road for me, and its main worth lies in that it continues to expand the MCU and build out their universe, rather than standing on its own merits. 7/10.