The Marvel superhero universe has now added sorcery to its world of super-powered beings.  Doctor Strange adds magic to the universe with a familiar reluctant hero premise that also has some truly trippy visuals and a surprising amount of humor.

Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch, whose Englishman-with-American-accent maked him sound like Hugh Laurie as Dr. House) is a brilliant and renowned neurosurgeon.  He's also conceited, hated for being a know-it-all by his colleagues, and tends to select cases based on how much fame they'll get him.  He also works with his ex-girlfriend Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams), an e.r. doctor who wants Strange to help more people.

When a car crash leaves Stephen with uncontrollable trembling in his hands, he goes into a depression, pushing everyone away and spending all his money searching for experimental cures.  When he gets a file of a patient who had a seeming impossible cure for spinal damage, it leas Strange to a secret location in Nepal.  There, select people learn everything from magic (astral projection, using "Sling Rings" to create teleportation portals, summoning and controlling energy, visiting different dimensions) to martial arts, to sentient artifacts that choose their users.  This place is led by the Amcient One (Tilda Swinton), Strange is taught by Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), and Wong (Benedict Wong) runs the library of ancient knowledge.
Of course, villainy is afoot.  The evil sorcerer Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) has stolen some pages from the library.  He and his disciples plan to destroy the three sanctuaries -- in New York, London, and Hong Kong -- that protect the Earth from magic threats from other dimensions.  Once they're gone, the powerful entity Dormammu will absorb Earth into his Dark Dimension.  Strange still just wants his old life back, while the others push him to be a hero.

While Doctor Strange is a somewhat familiar story of selfish turning to redemption, it's still a pretty fun movie.  This may be the most visually impressive movie, with landscapes seeming to fold onto themselves, astral forms battling through the real world, and a hellish CGI universe in the Dark Dimension that seems disturbingly real.  While there's plenty of action, there's also a surprising amount of humor: Strange's levitating cloak acting more or less on its own for some slapstick humor, Wong listening to Beyonce on an iPod, or Dr. Palmer's incredulous reaction to learning that magic exists.
Doctor Strange is a worthy addition to the Marvel cinematic universe.  It has good acting, a nice blend of action and comedy, and (again) some amazing special effects.

Overall grade: B+
Reviewed by James Lynch

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