Not to damn Doctor Strange with faint praise, but the film definitely reaches the upper echelons of Marvel movies, hitting that entertaining and workmanlike sweet spot while not quite ever achieving cinematic brilliance. Doctor Strange is, as has been widely commented on, far more visually arresting than most Marvel films, building on the visual creativity of Inception without that film’s deadly dullness.
And the cast is all game and on target, from the playful Tilda Swinton to the spot-on Benedict Cumberbatch as the titular doctor, though Chiwetel Ejiofor and Mads Mikkelsen are largely wasted in one-note roles. The adapters also do a good job tinkering with Lee and Ditko’s original conception of the character, keeping what works and altering what does not (Mordo in particular is similar in name only). That said, like the similarly fun but disposable Guardians of the Galaxy, I don’t see Doctor Strange ever becoming a perennial – the plot is too predictable, the hero’s journey too by the numbers, and the characters too flat to make this a classic.
2 1/2 out of 4 stars (Good).