Doctor Strange Parent Review

Amidst the violent depictions, this origin story provides a crash course on Doctor Strange, his strength and weakness, and the struggle required to overcome his challenges.

Overall B

After a serious accident, Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) gets a second chance to serve mankind when his mind is awakened to the metaphysical universe.

Violence D+
Sexual Content A-
Profanity B-
Substance Use A-

Doctor Strange is rated PG-13 for action violence and some frightening images.

Movie Review

One more Marvel character is liberated from the confines of pen and ink in the cinematic release of Doctor Strange. Benedict Cumberbatch plays the surgeon who, if you can imagine, is played with even more pompous confidence than his characterization of Sherlock Holmes. Worse yet, Strange drives his Lamborghini with the same arrogant attitude. It’s an activity that proves disastrous – and supplies the inciting incident for the egoist’s transformation.

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When the doctor awakens after his accident, he discovers his hands are replete with steel pins and immediately complains about the medical team that tried to put him back together. His tirade only intensifies when his colleague and former lover, Dr. Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams), suggests his days in the operating room may be over. Unwilling to accept reality he exhausts his savings attempting to find a cure. When Western science fails him, he considers alternative treatments. Hearing of another man (Benjamin Bratt) with debilitating injuries that were inexplicably reversed, Dr. Strange heads to the source of the miracle—a Tibetan healer known as The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton).

Like all stories involving hubris, Eastern philosophy and bald spiritualists, our protagonist is going to get tossed about by his mentor and her assistant Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor). The former demonstrates her superior knowledge by literally knocking Strange’s soul from his body so he can take a planetarium-on-steroids tour of the multiverse (warning for those with problems viewing 3D movies), while Mordo teaches cool tricks with sticks and creating sparkly portals with your hands. The student is a slow starter at first but, as expected, soon proves to have great potential. Also, as anticipated, long before Strange has really mastered the art of spell casting or the humility to be obedient to his teacher, he will be forced to lead the forces for good against an evil antagonist in the climactic battle that makes up the film’s final act.

It will come as no surprise either that the greatest content concerns in this movie are the depictions of violence. It doesn’t seem to matter how sophisticated the superpowers are, the story still typically boils down to people being hit, thrown, punched and stabbed with a variety of weapons (supernatural and otherwise) and an occasional fist. More exotic offensive tactics include being cuffed or whipped by fire-like bands of energy (the sparkly stuff mentioned earlier), crushed by buildings that fold over each other like a pop-up book (reminiscent of the special effects in Inception), trapped in parallel universes and a character who gets bricked into a wall. These frequent physical altercations are enhanced with sound effects. As well there are some explicit depictions of surgical procedures and injuries that are accompanied by ample blood.

Fortunately, the script offers some positive messages too, which may have some parents considering this action flick as a possible viewing choice for teens. While I have no idea what this protagonist’s comic book legacy reveals, within the confines of this movie Doctor Strange demonstrates desirable growth in the areas of sacrifice and service. These messages are reinforced with reminders of the benefits of looking outward and seeking to help others, rather than dwelling on narcissistic tendencies and self-preservation. Depending on your perspective, other elements of this film may or may not be appealing. For example, Dr. Palmer demonstrates love and forgiveness toward her friend, yet she could also be accused of enabling his bad behavior and allowing herself to be a target of his verbal abuse.

Even for those of us who haven’t studied the complete Marvel Comics canon, this origin movie is likely to please. The screen adaption provides a crash course on Doctor Strange and supplies enough information for the audience to appreciate the strength of character required for him to overcome the personal challenge he faces. However, I’m suspicious the next adventure with this peculiar physician may reveal his new found altruistic attitude will still require great effort to maintain.

Directed by Scott Derrickson. Starring Rachel McAdams, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton . Running time: 115 minutes. Theatrical release November 4, 2016. Updated

Get details on profanity, sex and violence in Doctor Strange here.

Doctor Strange Parents Guide

Doctor Strange has a large ego. Why does he feel this has helped him in the world of medicine? How well does his pride serve in the mythical multiverse? What does the Ancient One mean when she suggests his self-protection instincts are keeping him from a greater destiny? Could her advice apply to real world situations?

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