It's almost completely appropriate for a film that hinges so much on the relative nature of time to have the idea of time play a very confusing role in the story - namely, how long was Stephen Strange in training at Kamar-Taj before the sudden attack of Kaecilius and his Zealots? By the way the film plays it, it certainly doesn't SEEM like a whole lot of time has passed - sure, Strange is a good deal more proficient with magic by the time the attack happens, but the film has a few built-in explanations as to how he got so good so quickly (he has a photographic memory, and he's been studying while sleeping thanks to astral projection). The thing is - he still seems pretty early on with his relationships to the Ancient One, Mordo, and Wong. Realistically, it feels like he's been there for maybe a few weeks or a month...
AND THEN GOES ON TO DEFEAT MULTIPLE ZEALOTS (who had trained for YEARS) AND KAECILIUS (with an assist from a magic cape) AND DORMAMMU, WHO IS BASICALLY INTERDIMENSIONAL SPACE SATAN IN THIS FILM.
Given there are no real signposts regarding time, it's feasible Strange had been training for YEARS - but if that was the message the film wanted to get across, they sorta dropped the ball.
Most Infinity Stones are treated as incredibly precious, rare, sought-after artifacts (probably due to their combined ability to completely alter time and reality as we know it with the snap of your fingers), but the Infinity Stone introduced in Dr. Strange is a little different - the Time Stone (held in the Eye of Agamotto) is just left out in the library, unsecured and unguarded, for anyone to wander in and take...and that's exactly what novice sling ring-er Stephen Strange does.
Despite being a group of sorcerers meant to protect Earth from all mystical threats, the Ancient One and her masters of sorcery are pretyyyyyyyty lax about security to the item that can alter TIME ITSELF. And hell, even after Strange is caught with one of the SIX MOST POWERFUL ITEMS IN THE UNIVERSE...no one tells him to give it back. Mordo and Wong just chide him for wearing it and using its powers to restore book pages and un-eat an apple, but they don't immediately freak out and make him give it back.
Maybe they should, uh, start investing in a safety deposit box or something? BECAUSE IT SEEMS REAL EASY TO STEAL SHIT FROM THEIR LIBRARY.
Kamar-Taj is a decidedly low-tech establishment - everywhere wears anachronistic robes, there are no televisions to be seen, and all knowledge is kept in ancient tomes and scrolls. And that's why the bit when Mordo hands Dr. Strange a piece of paper with the word "Shamballa" written on it and Strange presumes this is "his mantra," it's a nice chuckle as Mordo casually says it's the wi-fi password.The only problem is: NO ONE NEEDS WI-FI. There are no computers, no cell phones, no electronics at all (except for Wong's MP3 player). Also "Shamballa" is a terrible password - no symbols, no numbers? The Kamar-Taj router is DEFINITELY getting hacked.
One of the big 'twists' in the film is the secret of the Ancient One - the Sorcerer Supreme of Earth, who is seemingly immortal, has actually only achieved her long lifespan by "drawing power from the Dark Dimension" (aka the home of Dormammu). This is taken as a massive betrayal to Strange and Mordo, and an affront to "natural law." The only problem is...why does this matter at all?
It's primarily the lack of consequences and any explanation as to what the Ancient One has actually been doing - does drawing power from the Dark Dimension do any harm? Does it make the Earth's protective barrier weaker? Does it corrupt the soul / mind of the Ancient One? As far as the film actually states, no to all of these. Really, there appear to be no actual drawbacks to whatever it is the Ancient One is doing, so it's not super clear why Mordo specifically is so utterly disgusted and hurt by this revelation.
Hell, anything that leaves the world with more years of Tilda Swinton should be okay with anyone.
There are presumably HUNDREDS of sorcerers guarding the sanctuaries around the world - sanctuaries that together create a barrier that keeps Dormammu from invading our world. We see sorcerers in Hong Kong and Kamar-Taj and elsewhere in pretty big numbers - so how did this ragtag group of bad guys (of whom there are like a dozen or so) manage to wipe out EVERY sanctuary on Earth?
For starters, it seems PRETTY WEIRD that apparently NO ONE was guarding the New York sanctuary (leaving Strange to inadvertently wind up there and defend it by his lonesome) - and even weirder that Kaecilius is just SO MUCH MORE powerful than every other sorcerer, even with whatever Dark Dimension powers he got as a result of getting that very pretty eye makeup from Dormammu.
While I imagine the makers of Doctor Strange wanted to distance themselves and their version of "magic" pretty far from Harry Potter, it seems a little weird that the primary use of magic in the film is "creating shields" and "invisible blades" instead of more energy projectiles and the like, that would allow the wizards to be blasting away at each other from a safe distance. But I get it - this felt like a more immediate, visceral version of magic that would allow for more interesting fighting sequences.
...except we see Kaecilius creating MAGIC BOMBS and instantly blowing shit up with magic. SO WHY NOT JUST USE THAT KIND OF MAGIC ALL THE TIME?
The climax of the film is pretty clever - Strange realizes that he cannot possibly hope to defeat Dormammu physically, but realizes that in his place "beyond time," he can trap Dormammu and himself in an endless loop of death - and uses that threat of eternal self-sacrifice to bargain with Dormammu into leaving Earth alone.
There's just one problem with this plan: it hinges ENTIRELY on Dormammu being a huge dumbass.
Dormammu is AWARE of the Groundhog's Day effect that Strange is enacting with the help of the Eye of Agamotto, and decides to...just keep doing the same thing over and over and over, which is brutally and quickly killing Stephen Strange. And when it becomes clear this tactic is ineffective, he...just keeps doing it. And doing it. And doing it - until he realizes Strange can keep this up indefinitely, and concedes defeat. But there was an easy solution: DON'T MURDER STRANGE, TORTURE HIM.
Dr. Strange never has to deal with any significant level of pain at any point in his battle with Dormammu - all of his deaths are quick and over in an instant. But Dormammu - the master of this dimensional and nearly infinitely powerful - could have just captured Dr. Strange and endlessly tortured him until he gave up the Time Stone (or at least agreed to break the loop). It would have been so easy.
Definitely not good for your rep to have your master scheme spoiled by a guy with THIS goatee, Dormammu.
The final shocking post-credits sequence of Dr. Strange is...strange. Mordo (not yet Baron) approaches the paraplegic we met earlier in the film, who had channeled his magical abilities inward to allow himself to walk again, and Mordo literally sucks the magic out of his, causing him to collapse and again lose the ability to walk. His reasoning? "Too many sorcerers." Which, uh, is an insufficient explanation for fucking up this stranger's ability to walk, but whatever.
The bigger concern is: apparently people have a finite amount of magic in their bodies, and pretty much ANY sorcerer can literally suck it out of them? That's kind of at odds with the rest of the film, which don't play up magic as a thing that's within you - it's more of a thing anyone can do if they have the skills and the patience to learn and understand it. But being able to have your magic sucked out of you makes it seem a lot more like the Harry Potter divide between Wizards and Muggles.
Also: c'mon, how was ANYONE surprised that Mordo would turn evil? Even if you're not familiar with the comics, his last name is "MORDO." That's SO CLOSE to Mordor.
I know Dr. Strange has had a goatee in the comics too, but the MCU already has a brilliant-but-arrogant playboy who suffered a grievous physical injury and found solace pursuing a new path as a superhero and defender of the world who has a very carefully sculpted goatee in Tony Stark. What the MCU does NOT have is a hero with powerful, majestic mustache.
That could've been Dr. Strange - sadly, we're stuck now with Benedict Cumberbatch's weak goatee instead. Sad.
They vaguely reference a few similar phrases, but almost as a joke and in passing. EMBRACE IT, MARVEL. EMBRACE WHAT MAKES DR. STRANGE SO GOOD.
Listen, I get the whole deal with "it targeted POTENTIAL threats," but what kind of 'potential threat' was Doctor Stephen Strange circa 2014? He was a talented-but-egotistical surgeon and absolutely nothing more - did the algorithm developed by a long dead German scientist predict he would become the Sorcerer Supreme? Because, if so, that is an even more impressive algorithm that anyone could've guessed.
To be fair, he WAS a total dick to Rachel McAdams, so I can understand wanting to obliterate him using Helicarriers for that alone.