After seeing the new movie, Dr. Strange a few nights ago, I’m giving it the following two ratings:
for Entertainment Value
for Content Concerns
The 2 symbols I’ve used above are called SPLARS, a hybrid of a STAR and a SPLAT. A SPLAR means the movie falls somewhere between good and bad.
In many ways, Dr. Strange was a very entertaining movie. Benedict Cumberbatch was perfect for the role. Not only was his acting right on, but he fit the part physically as well. The character arc for Dr. Strange as a character was very effective. He was somewhat unlikable at first, being that he was a self-centered playboy whose God was success. Around 30 minutes into the movie his transformation began. By the final battle Dr. Strange was in true hero form. I found myself cheering for him and liking the person that he had become.
Dr. Strange, the movie, especially excels when special effects are involved, and that’s around 90% of the movie. The folks on both sides, good and bad, have the ability to manipulate reality to do just about anything they wish. The visual results were stunning to say the least. But, just as special effects help Dr. Strange to deserve a STAR, it also is the reason that it deserves a SPLAT, indirectly that is. There are so many special-effects-heavy scenes in this movie that there isn’t a whole lot of time left over for character development. Sure, we get to see Dr Strange’s transformation, but we learn very little about his girlfriend Christine, played by Rachel McAdams. Another character with promise was fellow sorcerer Mordo, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor. We aren’t given a whole lot about who he is and why he became a sorcerer.I’m sure some would argue with me on this point and say that character development isn’t important in a Marvel comics movie. But I’d reply, every great movie has strong characters that evolve over the course of the story. With the exception of Dr. Strange himself, this movie is full of one-dimensional characters who were more or less disposable. Therefore, the STAR I’d hoped to give Dr. Strange for entertainment value had to transform into a SPLAR.
The hard hitting destructive comic-book violence that we’ve grown accustom to, in superhero movies, was present as always. That didn’t bother me in the least. There were zero sexual concerns and only a handful of curse words. Everything, so far, is pretty standard for a Marvel Studios movie. But, Dr. Strange is different from other Marvel characters in an important way that parents should be aware of. He and the other sorcerers in the movie claim to be protectors of the earth from spiritual threats. We’re told that they are different from the Avengers who protect the earth from physical threats. This opens the door for all kinds of spiritual problems that are evident in the story line of Dr. Strange.
My own 12 year old daughter has already told me she wants to see Dr. Strange. My method in the past for movies with ideological problems (and very few other content concerns) has always been to do 2 things: #1 – watch it with her and then #2 – talk to her about the issues at hand. That’s what I plan to do with Dr. Strange as well. Below are the points that I will go over with my daughter, not as a lecture, but as a friendly discussion. I hope this will be a helpful resource to other concerned parents.
1. The Evil – The evil force in this movie could easily be the Satan that is described in the Christian bible (although that name is never given to it). The problem I see here is that we humans have no ability to defeat Satan on our own. Not even a superhero can outwit or defeat Satan. Because of our fallen nature, we can’t be good enough to prevent him from winning in the end. Our only hope is Jesus Christ. Jesus has already defeated him, therefore, we can too through Jesus.
2. The Good – This movie tries to join all world religions. It uses spiritual terms and principals from all kinds of religions including Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. It tries to combine all religions into one powerful force in order to combat the force of evil. As Christians, we have a problem with that concept. The God of the Christian bible is perfectly holy and good. He cannot be joined in any way with other religions. To join Jesus Christ with Buddha or Allah is blasphemy and will only result in creating evil. All truth is found in Jesus Christ, therefore, all other Gods are false truths.It is impossible to join truth to a false truth.
3. Redemption – Learning to be unselfish is only a result of true redemption. Unselfishness is not a power within itself. The act of becoming unselfish cannot redeem anyone. In other words, Dr. Strange cannot redeem himself by learning to be unselfish. Nor can he redeem himself by being willing to sacrifice his life for the good of mankind. True redemption comes only by giving our lives over to Jesus Christ and by accepting his sacrifice for sin as our own. We have no power to save ourselves. All we can do is give our life to Jesus and ask him to save us.