Bryce Johnson (Son of Zorn)
Paul Nakauchi (Beware The Batman)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Michael Yama (Click)
Susan Spano (Eugene)
Jonathan Adams (Bones)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Josh Keaton (Green Lantern: TAS)
Tara Strong (Sabrina Down Under)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
The story is as archetypical and straightforward as any such comic-book concoction. The arrogant, emotionally closed-off Dr. Strange is offered an equally strange glimpse behind the world’s secret, magical curtain only moments before a car accident renders his surgically-perfect hands nearly useless. All seems lost before a mysterious figure points him toward a monastery in Tibet where, it is said, his hands can be healed. Of course, no Tibetan monastery is complete without an ancient band of magical warriors, their powerful-but-elderly leader, a traitorous rogue, a dangerously demonic threat and, of course, a high-octane training montage or two. And before Strange can even write a prescription – he’s been selected as the group’s newest apprentice (and soon-to-be leader) and tasked with thwarting the return of the great demon – Dormammu.
The rest plays out as expected, featuring epic battles against giant creatures with mystical runes and colorful spells, and a handful of well-imagined sword fights. Most surprising, perhaps, is the effectiveness of these action sequences – beautifully choreographed and emotionally resonant as the film pulls few punches in killing its characters after first endearing you to them. There’s a greater depth here than similar movies usually attain, and the subtle blending of solid character work, inspired action and expert filmmaking allow Doctor Strange to rise above the ordinary direct-to-DVD animated adaptation.
The film, however, is not without its flaws – which largely stem from the restraints of the source material. The middle section of the film sags where it should prove most interesting, and the viewer is never fully made to believe that Strange finds any particular awe – as any honest man would – at the magic which all too quickly surges from his fingertips. Rather, he takes up the mantle of “hero” without much resistance, doubt or fascination – a function, really, of the storytelling format, but in a film which succeeds so well in the creation of its supporting characters, one expects more from the man at its center.
But taken as it is – a “hero’s journey,” comic-book, magic-filled adventure film – Doctor Strange is certainly capable of curing the worse disease of all boredom. So take up your cloak, fire off a few incantations and check out this magical DVD.