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Published February 8th, 2007 | by Mike Barnard

Doctor Strange Review

Classification: 12 Director: Jay Oliva, Frank Paur Rating: 3/5

Marvel’s “Sorcerer Supreme” Doctor Strange is its latest comic character to be given a feature-length animated outing with an origins story packed with detail, but lacking in depth. Gifted surgeon Stephen Strange is left bitter and dejected when his hands are shattered in a car crash, taking away the one thing that still gives his life meaning. However, he is also able to see beings that exist in different dimensions and when he embarks on a journey to the Tibetan mountains, he learns how to conquer the pain and regain the use of his hands to fight an ancient force that threatens the future of mankind.

The Marvel Animated Features series has so far chalked up a mixed bag of action and adventure. It started with the assembling of characters such as Captain America, Iron Man and The Hulk for two Ultimate Avengers films – a selection of heroes who probably couldn’t have come together for a live action format without a massive budget, making for an eventful treat for Marvel fans. The third movie, The Invincible Iron Man, was light on story but seems to have been intended as a prelude to the live action movie staring Robert Downey Jr. As such, it whizzed through a lightweight origins story that seemed to have been compiled from ideas discarded from the upcoming version. For Doctor Strange, a lot more thought has gone into developing his character from distressed surgeon through to a master magician to produce a more rounded experience than Iron Man’s mindless action and the novelty of Ultimate Avengers.

Doctor Strange himself has demons to face when his arrogance as a successful surgeon is replaced by despondency brought on by the inability to carry on his work following the car accident. His rehabilitation under the tutorage of the Ancient One harks back to numerous training sequences such as The Karate Kid as he nearly gives up before turning himself around and learning all the tricks he will need to become the Sorcerer Supreme. Meanwhile, the Ancient One’s band of mystical defenders are fighting off the threat of demons attempting to break into our world which sees monster lizard creatures and hordes of bats get fended off by spells and the slashing of swords. Although there is nothing on show that hasn’t been done somewhere before, the classic story arc of a beleaguered potential hero becoming a confident and powerful force is seen through with suitable gusto and a grand final showdown between Doctor Strange and demonic entity Shuma-Gorath as he tries to enter Earth’s dimension.

The animated format of Doctor Strange doesn’t offer much in the way of innovation and will most likely fail to conjure up much excitement away from Marvel followers. Those who are keen on the Sorcerer Supreme’s adventures should be more than satisfied with the efforts here as they prove Marvel isn’t simply churning out these features with no respect for their assets, but offering them a life beyond the comics.

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