It’s disingenuous to feign disappointment with the increasingly rote exercises of MARVEL STUDIOS.* This one, which uses IRON MAN’s arrogant-scientist-laid-low template, was generally well-received, though not without a share of fanboy pushback. But it’s a lumpy piece of merchandise, a pedestal built to display another pedestal, as Benedict Cumberbatch swallows the Kool-Aid of career-advancement playing the eponymous doctor. (Looking like Pierce Brosnan; inhabited by Tom Cruise’s acting choices.) A forgettable story sends him to the Mystical East, hoping to find a spiritual cure for his surgical-worthy hands, crushed in a car wreck. Turns out, he’s a natural at inner-bliss/meta-physical incantations, but has to spend his time fighting world domination battles against Mads Mikkelsen, with raccoon eye makeup substituting for character. There’s a nice cameo from Benjamin Bratt as a former graduate of Tilda Swinton’s inner-cure swami institute, but everyone else just worries over their next lame repartee. It all gets sorted out (and made meaningless) via time continuum rewinds which, alas, aren't available for the viewer.
SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: The film is loaded with phantasmagoric (fantasmagoric?) visual effects - traveling & collapsing thru time & space. They must have looked hallucinogenic on the big 3D screen. But in home viewing, much of the film's non-special effect scenes suffer from murky digital photography funk.
ATTENTION MUST BE PAID: The film offers two follow-up teaser tags. Sneak peek or threat?
DOUBLE-BILL: *Even the best MARVEL pics (CAPTAIN AMERICA/’11; GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY’14; DEADPOOL/’16) lose their footing or overplay their hand in the inevitable sequel.