Friday, October 19 , 2018, 8:34 pm | Fair 75º


Cinema in Focus: ‘Doctor Strange’

3 Stars — Thought-provoking

Benedict Cumberbatch is perfectly cast as Dr. Stephen Strange in Doctor Strange. Played with a believable arrogance that brings this neurosurgeon to the brink of death only to be reborn under the tutelage of a powerful sorcerer, Cumberbatch brings to life this iconic 1963 Marvel character.

Created by Steve Ditko and Stan Lee, this newest version is brought to the screen by Scott Derrickson, known for such films as The Exorcism of Emily Rose and Hellraiser: Inferno.

In this film we experience not just the beginning of the doctor’s training, but we also journey with him into a new reality As a neurosurgeon who believes only in the physical world, Strange is exposed suddenly and violently to the existence not only of his own soul but of a multiverse with persons who can access the power of other universes and bring it into our own.

The primary master of this skill is known only as The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton). A complex person who keeps knowledge for herself, we soon discover that one of her former students, Kacilius (Mads Mikkelsen), has been seduced by the power of darkness and steals one of the forbidden spells in order to take down earth’s defenses. Into this spiritual battle Dr. Strange has providentially been inserted.

Also present in this tale is Dr. Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams), who experiences both the ego and the transformation of her beloved’s journey. Knowing Dr. Strange is unequaled in his surgical abilities but as a person is unable to love her, she regretfully lets him push her away. But in a moment when he needs her surgeon’s skills, she sees firsthand the change that is occurring within him to the point of becoming willing to sacrifice himself for others.

The theological foundation of the tale is clearly Christian with an evil that is trying to destroy lives and a sacrificial power that is willing to lay down his life for others. As a Christ-figure, Dr. Strange fits his name, but as an example of the power of love there is nothing strange about him. That message fits not only the Marvel Universe but the one created by a loving God.


» The seduction of living forever doesn’t always answer the question of what kind of life that will be. Why do you think people are willing to follow evil for their own personal gain if to do so will cost them their true soul? Do they not fully understand or are they blinded by the seduction of evil?

» Offering himself for an eternal torment in order to free humanity from the power of evil was both courageous and compassionate. Do you think you would be capable of making such a choice? Where do you think Dr. Strange got his newfound love?

» It is difficult to understand how people can limit themselves to a physical world when the vast majority of humanity experiences a spiritual reality. Why do you think some people choose to live in such a limitation?

— Cinema in Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary. Hal Conklin is a former mayor of Santa Barbara and Denny Wayman is the retired pastor of Free Methodist Church of Santa Barbara and lead superintendent of Free Methodist Church in Southern California. For more reviews, visit, or follow them on Twitter: @CinemaInFocus. The opinions expressed are their own.

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