Review in a single sentence: IMHO it's pretty good, on par with the original Iron Man, Thor, Cap films.
Other non-spoiler notes: there is a mid-credit sequence AND an end-credit sequence, please stay til the end.
My favourite film of the genre is probably Civil War (which IMHO vastly improved on the source material) followed by maybe Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant Man (which surprised me, as I was indifferent to his comics, but the film was so much fun.) Dr. Strange isn't as good as those, but is very comparable to the origin movies of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, etc.
That's quite an achievement considering I was quite indifferent to Dr. Strange's comics, that again I think they improved on the source materials. I mention this in case you or your friends felt the same way, that Dr. Strange wasn't really a character you followed and you're still debating whether or not to go see this in the theatres. My recommendation: it's a decent watch, but no rush, you can borrow a friend's Blu-Ray or something.
However, I would like to address certain controversies surrounding this film, to show they aren't that controversial.
Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One (the "whitewashing" issue)
There's a central figure known as the Ancient One, portrayed in the comics as an old Asian man. In the film, it was portrayed by a British woman, Tilda Swinton. That was supposed to be a problem because it's racially insensitive.
I'm Chinese and I watched this in Hong Kong. I quite liked Tilda Swinton's portrayal!
If there was a problem, it wasn't "whitewashing", it was "wisdomwashing". The writers gave her dialogue that doesn't sound like Eastern philosophy, it sounds like Introduction to Eastern Philosophy 101. That was a disconnect for me at the beginning.
However, even that turned out to not be an issue. The film decided, cleverly IMHO, to portray "The Ancient One" as a very experienced yet still fallible person with a tough job. She's NOT supposed to be the source of all wisdom, she is its grad student teaching assistant.
That difference actually explains a great deal. There are plot elements around this important distinction, and she was great.
Benedict Wong as Wong
Wong was portrayed in the comics as Dr. Strange's valet, which is supposed to be derogatory. I read and watched Wooster & Jeeves growing up, where the valet is clearly the mentor in reality, to say nothing of Alfred with Batman...but I saw the point they were making, it's a fair point.
Benedict Wong, as Wong, was great here. He has a position inside the Ancient One's organisation, which is not so much hierarchical as having distinct roles & responsibilities. He actually plays it like a kung fu film character trope, which works because...
Spellcasting is actually more a kung fu than "abra cadabra"
Maybe because it better fits the medium of film, spellcasting is portrayed as a form of martial arts, which is awesome. At its tamest, it is like Taichi. At its most intense, it's like a Jackie Chan film BUT people summon their own props, which is pretty cool!
Both Tilda Swinton and Benedict Wong really, really manifest their physical presence well within this context, with the former being the cool master and the latter being the-chubby-guy-who-moves-a-lot-faster-than-you-may-think like Sammo Hung.
They happen to have signature weapon-types, their go-tos, just like we in CO have certain powersets we prefer. It's pretty cool.
And speaking of magic...
They didn't exactly copy Inception, they weaponised Inception
In the early trailers, there were visuals very, very comparable to those from Chris Nolan's Inception. It turns out that's not something that everyone does, it's a specific, special thing that is related to the plot, which is why it was in the trailers. It's a type of attack and it's pretty cool.
Basically, that and everything beforehand are not problems for me.
What were actual problems for me...and they are minor issues, really
Benedict Cumberbatch is pretty decent, but he had the same fake American accent as Hugh Laurie in House M.D. It didn't help that he, too, was a British actor playing an arrogant American doctor. Also, they had scenes of Hong Kong that were not Hong Kong, they were of Hong Kongland, some sort of theme park based on Hong Kong or something. Those issues were far more jarring for me than Tilda Swinton not being an old Asian dude. That said, I don't think anyone cares about those issues except for me, so I just mention it out of completeness.
Final Verdict - 3.5 out of 5 mangled fingers from a car accident. If it was among the 1st wave of Marvel films, it'd be a 4, but having seen how much more creative Marvel Studios can be, this film didn't push the boundaries as far as recent films have. Worth a watch, but no rush IMHO.