Sep 16, 2008

[Movies] Doctor Strange: The Sorcerer Supreme

Doctor Strange: The Sorcerer SupremeThere's something about the entire "direct to video" market that always rings ominous for the entertainment world at large. A large part of this could be attributed to the Disney tendency to create sequels to its major franchise films and only release them on video - if you've seen a few of them then you'll know how questionable their content tends to be. It's not because they're controversial that I cite Disney - it's because they tend to be really bad.

So when Marvel decided to start releasing direct-to-DVD animated films for many of its Ultimate Marvel characters, already the danger flag was up and about in my mind. For my own morbid curiosity, I agreed to acquire a copy of a few of them from my friend who had already done the legwork in terms of scouring the internet for them.

My thoughts of this film are still a bit up in the air for me - I suppose it depends on how you look at things.

Doctor Strange: The Sorcerer Supreme tries to follow the story of the Ultimate Marvel version of the character. Given that challenge, the movie mostly deals with his origin story and how he came to be in the same way that any first film in a potential superhero story has to spend at least two-thirds of the air time covering the character's origin story.

Dr. Strange performing an incantation.  Art by...Image via Wikipedia Being one not intimately exposed to the Ultimate Marvel storyline, I had to suspend judgment based on the amount of re-writing that went into this version of his history and just take things as they were. I suppose there's a reason why I won't fully agree with the quality of the Ultimates stories, but then that's me. i mean come on, while his original costume may have had a lot of exaggerated flair built into it, it beats the weird Ultimates interpretation of him being in a weird variation of a suit and that silly haircut of his.

In terms of the actual execution of the story, I have to give credit to those behind the film. They did a lot of make the film as good as possible given the limitations of the story itself. It's not that the story was bad precisely but more that since they chose to burden themselves with using the film to cover the origin tale as much as possible, it provided very little time for the serious kind of action and interpersonal conflict that we tend to look for in movies.

Given that, the entire plot development felt a tad slow to me. We probably didn't need to drag out so much his journey from being an arrogant surgeon to his mastering magic under the tutelage of the Ancient One and friends like Wong. If they wanted to maximize the impact of this film, then it would have served them better to just jump into the action and go all out against the likes of Mordo or Dormammu and let things develop from there.

I think I'm too much of fan of the original Doctor Strange and his myriad history and background. Despite that, one can't let a preference of origin story get in the way - this film is pretty much good for what it aims to address, which is the Ultimate Marvel version of Doctor Strange. It makes for an enjoyable movie viewing experience on lazy afternoon, however I don't see myself wanting to repeat the film over and over again.

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