If “Iron Man” represented Marvel’s most effective effort at establishing a crowd-pleasing blockbuster, then “Doctor Strange” is its best shot at creating grand cinema. The Marvel formula may not be all that exciting for serious cinema fans, but there’s no denying the grandiose, downright breathtaking scope of “Doctor Strange”: It’s the kind of visually striking work that demands to be seen on a big screen, thanks to the absolutely meticulous special effects and thrillingly disorienting action scenes that make the visual effects of “Inception” seem underwhelming by comparison. Director Scott Derrickson is in complete control of two opposing ideologies here: The aforementioned Marvel formula, which deploys Benedict Cumberbatch’s impressively charismatic and likable performance, and the potential of cinema in the age of sky’s-the-limit visual work. What he manages to do is nothing less than amazing, as the movie manages to be impressively artsy while also keeping its crowd-pleasing sensibilities at the forefront. It’s a shame that the movie is held back from greatness by Mads Mikkelsen’s boring, weak performance as main antagonist Kaecilius, who brings the movie’s momentum to a halt with each appearance, but overall, this is one hell of an accomplishment.
Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)