Director: Scott Derrickson
Writers: Jon Spaihts & Scott Derrickson
Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams
Genre: Supehero, Science Fiction, Fantasy
As soon as I heard that Benedict Cumberbatch was cast as Doctor Stephen Strange I knew this film had to be good. In any role I’ve ever seen Benedict perform, he’s done amazingly. I’m so happy to have him on the Marvel team. Doctor Strange is a more obscure Marvel character, but I’m glad he’s getting the attention he deserves. He has such an interesting past and his abilities are so intriguing. Has Marvel made another smash hit by bringing a little-known comic book character to light?
Violence/Scary Images: The most violent part of the entire movie is near the beginning when a character is beheaded, but it’s obscured. There is some violence since there are a lot of battles between characters. Characters are stabbed, but there’s no excessive blood. The worst is a chest wound, but the rest is some bloody scratches. I can understand that some would be hesitant about seeing the movie because Doctor Strange is surgeon and they really don’t want to watch surgery scenes. Not to worry. There isn’t any graphic close-ups of surgical procedures. The only parts that could make someone squeamish is a bullet extraction which is seen by image projection, and when a needle is inserted into a character’s chest to draw out fluid. I thought at first that the strange marks around Kaecilius and his followers’ eyes would be scary, but it’s mostly dark scales.
Language/Crude Humor: No noticeable crude humor that I recall. There was some sparse language including sh**, d***, h***, and a***.
Spiritual Content: Doctor Strange’s origin story involves a lot of mystical and Hindu influence. Chakras and the Sea of Chi are referenced. He is called a sorcerer, and he uses magic. The magic is considered spells, but it’s mostly flashes of energy in the air that can do things like make portals, weapons, and switch dimensions. There isn’t much verbal spellcasting. If you didn’t call it magic it could be seen as energy manipulation or something of that sort. The only part that I would consider a bit eerie and dark was a ritual performed by the villains.
Sexual Content: One kiss.
Drug/Alcohol Reference: Unless you count surgical drugs then none really.
Other Negative Content: None of note.
Positive Content: There are so many great themes in this movie. One is about belief. Doctor Strange is a sound atheist, but the only way to heal himself is if he believes that there is a world and powers beyond that which his eyes can see. This can easily relate to Christianity. We can be so limited by what we see on earth, that we don’t want to think of beyond.
Another huge theme was Doctor Strange’s crippling fear of failure. When he lost his hands, he felt like he failed being a doctor. Before that he never took patients he thought he couldn’t help because he was afraid to fail. His journey with that is astounding.
Doctor Stephen Strange is a gifted, but egotistical neurosurgeon. He lives in the nicest apartment, but he also refuses patients he doesn’t find interesting. When driving to give a speech, he gets into a terrible car accident that grievously damages his hands giving him permanent tremors, which in turn ends his career as a neurosurgeon. Strange sells everything he has for treatments to help his hands, but nothing works. While in physical therapy, he hears about a man who was completely healed from paralysis by going to a temple in Nepal. With the last of his funds, Strange travels to Nepal and meets the Ancient One who teaches him about the ways of the sorcerers, promising that in time and with practice one day Strange’s hands will heal. In the midst of his studies, Strange also discovers that there is a plot by an evil sorcerer to destroy their world and Strange becomes the only one who can stop it.
Doctor Strange‘s plot focuses less on kickbutt action and more on the character arch of the protagonist. There is plenty of action and spellcasting fun to be sure, but as the title states the movie is about the character and his journey first and foremost. My favorite thing about this movie is the depth that it goes into Doctor Strange. For him to complete his journey, he has to discover his demons and deal with them. He has to recognize his ego and his fear of failure and learn to grow past it. He must learn to adapt to his handicap, which he struggles with throughout the movie. He has to change his entire core of beliefs to be able to harness the power that could heal him. Benedict plays him amazingly well. He nails the American accent, and he has the entire look of Marvel’s favorite sorcerer.
The other characters do a fantastic job as well. Tilda Swinton’s performance of the Ancient One was well done. She was a unique character who also had great character development. I loved her humility and wisdom. She had to be my favorite character. Mordo, Christine, and Wong were great supporting characters and gave me many a laugh. Kaecilius was a bit of a one*dimensional villain. I wanted more character development with him, but he did his part well.
The visual effects were mind blowing and stunningly creative. I was astonished at the portrayal of the dimensional shifts. They blew Inception out of the water. The magic was very unique and looked incredibly real. I hope this film wins an award for visual effects. Lastly, the score is just gorgeous. It was written by Michael Giacchino who also does the music for the new Star Trek franchise, and I could hear small flairs similar to that score.
Doctor Strange is a must-see. It’s creative and a movie that leaves you thinking. I’m so excited to see where else Doctor Strange is going to appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Don’t forget the two ending scenes!
The Bottom Line