General Release 2007
76 minutes approx
Directed by -
Jay Oliva & Frank Paur
Written by -
Dr STRANGE is the fourth film to come out of Marvel Comics' animation studio, following THE INVINCIBLE IRON MAN onto UK DVD shelves. It's another origin story and it's another flawed man discovering the hero inside himself.
This time it is Stephen Strange and whilst he shares the crass arrogance of THE INVINCIBLE IRON MAN's Tony Stark, his long day's journey into night is so much deeper. A neurosurgeon with a (frankly unconvincing) tragic past, he loses almost everything when his hands are damaged in a car crash. He falls low, to the very point of suicide. This is some seriously dark and sophisticated stuff going on here and clearly shows that the makers are aiming for an older audience.
That older audience, however, are going to have difficulties with the monsters that plague the story. Not Dormammu, the big bad ball of fiery magic, but the stupid lumbering things appear right at the start and later on. The shadow wolves are not too bad, but the flying mouths (I kid you not) are a step beyond. That said, Dr STRANGE is not above killing people off. The death toll amongst innocents and spirit warriors (who carry all the action whilst Strange goes through all his sub KARATE KID training schtick) alike. Few of these are introduced in any strong fashion, so their deaths don't really have any impact, but they at least beef up the stakes and underline the threat a bit.
Considering the strength of the artwork that some of the source material boasted (see the 'origins of...' documentary) the animation is a bit flat and uninteresting, although the Tibetan citadel where Strange studies and Dormammu's alien dimension are impressive visuals as is Dormammu himself, all fire and symbol. The magic is mainly represented as swords from smoke and spherical forcefields.
The earlier pre-magic Strange story is far more interesting than the all-action finale into which it hurriedly descends and it is easy to see where the makers' interests really lie, but there's no getting away from those silly-looking monsters.
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