When the gifted but arrogant Doctor Stephen Strange is in a terrible car accident, he suffers irreparable damage to his hands which effectively ends his career. Struggling to cope with his loss and pushing away the people who care about him, his desperate search for healing leads him to Nepal and a meeting with ‘The Ancient One’ who shows him powers beyond his comprehension and begins to teach him how to manipulate other dimensions. Learning of a former student, Kaecilius, who is determined to bring an entity from the Dark Dimension to Earth, Strange must decide what’s important to him. Can he put his ego aside and face his destiny?
Doctor Strange (2016) – Director: Scott Derrickson
Running Length: 115 mins
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen
Genre: Comic Book, Fantasy
With no sign of stopping, the Marvel juggernaut introduces yet another new character to their ever-expanding Universe. This time, Brit actor, Benedict Cumberbatch is brought into the fold as the eponymous ‘Doctor Strange’ who, like many Marvel characters, has a deeply flawed personality but is undeniably likeable. Perhaps this has something to do with the ever-appealing underdog story – someone who loses everything that apparently matters to them re-learning who they are and discovering what truly is important in life.
With the bright, colourful cinematography and excellent balance of serious story and light-hearted humour, ‘Doctor Strange’ is unmistakably Marvel. What we have become used to with movies such as Iron Man, the Avengers and Ant-Man is all included here and, with his commanding presence, Cumberbatch carries the movie perfectly. It is a shame that the story feels slightly rushed so that the passage of time never feels as long as it actually is (especially with Strange’s training) an extra fifteen minutes would have given the plot some breathing room to slow down and pace itself.
Overall, ‘Doctor Strange’ is just what Marvel fans are looking for and, being an origin story that is so accessible, makes it easy for newcomers to the franchise to enjoy without them being required to know anything that has come before. If you’re looking for a movie which is light-hearted but not comedy-led, ‘Doctor Strange’ ticks the boxes and provides a fantastically entertaining experience.
IS ‘DOCTOR STRANGE’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?
A group of people enter a Buddhist Temple at night, they wear cloaks and some of them are hooded, making them automatically appear malevolent. They approach a man who attempts to defend himself, however these people quickly overpower him, creating magical whips which wind around the man’s wrists and ankles. These whips are pulled taut so that the man is hoisted into the air and his limbs stretched wide. The leader of the group opens a chest and pulls out two-bladed weapons, with a quick movement, the man is killed; the death is shown in ambiguous, shadowy lighting so, despite knowing that the man has been killed, nothing graphic is seen.
There are some mild surgery scenes, in one a patient is brought into hospital after being shot in the head, only an x-ray is seen with a close-up of an intact bullet in the skull. When this patient is operated on, the camera looks up at the surgeon so there is no injury detail; a long instrument is pushed into the skull which shows up on the x-ray which could be a little disturbing for some younger kids but this scene is not meant to be gory so any upset is likely to be mild and short-lived.
A man wakes up in hospital and discovers with distress that he has had several metal rods put into his hands, he is not in pain (presumably due to pain relief) but this has a devastating psychological effect on him; this, along with the rather disturbing visuals could be upsetting for a lot of kids.
The scene where Strange is first shown the multiverse which he will eventually learn to manipulate, is very psychedelic and trippy, much of it is like being inside a kaleidoscope and is reminiscent of the psychedelic scene in ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’. This scene lasts around five minutes and includes some extended moments which could be of concern for those who are sensitive to strobe lighting.
Several characters are killed by being stabbed with large blades, sometimes suddenly and unexpectedly. There is little gore but the deaths could be quite disturbing for some children. One character is impaled by huge stakes and another is murdered in cold blood by an adversary with long, magical blades.
Some characters are dragged into another dimension, the flesh is stripped from their bodies, as if they are being burned. They struggle for a few seconds but little suffering is actually seen. By the time their bodies have become black and charred, they are at a distance from the camera so this isn’t too graphic.
CAN I SEE A CLIP?
While ‘Doctor Strange’ may have some minor issues with pacing which in turn makes some of the effects and plot difficult to focus on, this is a movie which pulls in all the elements that makes Marvel the powerhouse of (mostly) family friendly action flicks. As there is little gore or graphic content, we feel this movie should be appropriate for most kids aged seven and over.
- Violence: 2/5 (mostly family friendly action scenes, some stabbings which are violent but quick and there is little to no blood throughout. A character is surrounded by a group of men, they beat him to the ground and kick him repeatedly)
- Emotional Distress: 1/5 (an established character is killed, their death is dealt with in a melancholy way but is not meant to be distressing)
- Fear Factor: 2/5 (Kaecilius and his followers have black, scaly skin around their eyes which could be quite scary for kids. A bullet is pulled out of an injured person which has some blood on it)
- Sexual Content: 0/5
- Bad Language: 2/5 (infrequent mild to moderate cursing and some blasphemy. A character says ‘oh fu…’ but the word is cut short)
- Dialogue: 0/5
- Other notes: Deals with themes of arrogance and ego, taking talent for granted, refusing to give up, despair, learning to accept something you don’t believe in, embracing change and the morality of whether killing is ever acceptable.
Words by Laura Record