Every so often, searching through those straight to DVD titles, you find a gem or two. Sure, it’s a rarity and you have to sift through a whole lot in order to get to one, but it happens. Just to be clear, this is not one of those stories.
Marvel Animated has been working for years to get some of its B-listers into the good graces of audiences. Why they thought that releasing straight to video titles would do this, no one can ever really know. This is really a shame because I’d like to know who to ask for 76 minutes of my life back. Dr. Strange is one of those films that seems to suffer from the pacing of the first act and never quites learns it’s listen.
The overly maudlin backstory is revealed through flashbacks which is already trite enough, but of course, it’s your typical cookie-cutter “something bad happened to someone close to me, so I withdrew from the world Charles Foster Kane style, but hey wait, there’s hope for me yet!” The only spark of originality the movie has to show for itself is that at least some horrible fate doesn’t befall a fiance or wife. No, no, no, they went out on a limb and made it his sister. Granted, the origin story itself can’t be blamed on the creators of the movie, but the “unraveling” of the stock anti-hero turned good guy is no one else’s fault but their own.
Another aspect of Doctor Strange that felt clumsily told or just plain unlikeable is the whole fantasy element. Never been one for fantasy, but when dealing with super heroes, creators always tend to walk a thin line. Usually it can just be ignored, but my favoritism of the more realistic is shown in some of my personal favorite superheroes such as Batman or Iron Man. Sure, there are ridiculous parts to each of them, but at least the latter two lend themselves towards more realistic depictions seeing as the requirements of heroism for them are money and courage, both of which they have in spades. Still, in Doctor Strange it’s more than a mere preference. The use of fantasy and alternate dimensions feels both clumsy and lazy, two less than inspiring traits that feel all too familiar by the movie’s end.
It’s difficult to say what Doctor Strange suffers from, even after watching the movie; the all too familiar trappings of your average, run-of-the-mill superhero or the boredom that ensues? The end result is nothing spectacular or even really worth watching. It sounds cruel, but there’s a reason why some superheroes never achieve great recognition and after watching Marvel Animated’s attempt at making Dr. Strange interesting, it’s easy to put him back on the shelf with all the other B-listers.