Posted on January 2, 2008 by Monica Valentinelli
Doctor Strange Animated Movie Review
The Sorcerer Supreme
Marvel Animated Features
Produced by Lionsgate
In Marvel’s continued Ultimates series, this particular feature is a re-imagining of Doctor Strange. This film focuses heavily on eastern philosophy and mythic influences, adding several characters that emphasize a larger setting.
Doctor Strange starts out as an ordinary doctor, a snobbish neurosurgeon whose aloofness is quickly explained by his obsession with his past. An accident strips Doctor Strange of the ability to use his hands; this accident propels him to lose all of his wealth as he tries to restore what he lost. In the depths of despair, Doctor Strange is offered an opportunity to heal, so he flies to Tibet to meet his destiny, literally.
There are really two stories that are being told in the film. The first is to show how Doctor Strange became the all-powerful Sorcerer Supreme, and the second is to stop Dormammu, a twisted, magical being using children’s minds as a tool to break free from his prison to come into the physical plane. Both tales are intertwined, but are not the same. There is a heavy emphasis on character growth and, as a result, Dr. Strange isn’t the only character who changes. His rival, Mordo, has a predictable character progression that is in steep contrast to the heights Steven Strange will achieve.
The supporting cast is a set of characters that add a lot to the story, so much so that the focus doesn’t remain at all times on Doctor Strange. Wong, a wizened sorcerer, serves as Doctor Strange’s mentor. His master (and Strange’s teacher) is a character called “the Ancient One,” who leads a group of other sorcerers with special abilities to protect the world against Dormammu. Gina, a fellow kind-hearted doctor that works with Strange, grounds the story in reality. Outside of the interesting plot, the animation and choice of color enhance the story and give it the fantastical element it needs.
Unlike other superhero animated films, this is a pretty dark story on several levels. The “saving” of innocent people isn’t the primary focus of the plot like in normal superhero film; while there are lives saved, many people die throughout the story. The characters go to fairly dark depths and death is a very real threat. The monsters, creatures that serve Dormammu, are steeped in mysticism and add a horrific element both visually and how they are written. The visual portrayal of Dormammu and the monsters blending tribal designs with colors is a great, artistic touch.
By far, this was my favorite Ultimates movie in the series because it had a lot of depth and setting elements that contributed to the story. Since this is a “re-telling” of the character, fans of Doctor Strange should regard this film as a stand-alone story, instead of comparing it to existing works.