Doctor Strange ★★★

Giving a whole new meaning to the idea of Doctors Without Borders, “Doctor Strange” is a superhero movie that often feels as though it’s been shot through a kaleidoscope — it’s hollow, hypnotic, and every twist of the tube reflects a beautiful new dimension of infinite possibilities. Unapologetically folding the likes of “The Matrix” and “Inception” into the fabric of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “Sinister” director Scott Derrickson reaches into the mirror dimension (whatever the hell that is) and retrieves the year’s most (only?) visually dazzling blockbuster.

That spectacle comes at a cost. As with all of the best installments of the MCU, the film’s unique strengths have a perverse way of highlighting the franchise’s shared weaknesses. But “Doctor Strange” deserves credit for treating several of the ailments that have been infecting the series, and for diagnosing several more. A movie about a forward-thinking man who is deeply afraid of failure, “Doctor Strange” can be seen as something of a self-portrait for the studio that produced it — it might even be more fun to think of it in that context, as the risks taken by the story’s thinly sketched superhero are endowed with the weight and history of the many-tentacled mythos that we’ve been watching Marvel unpack for almost a decade. This is the most exciting addition to their ever-expanding universe since “The Avengers.”

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