At times packing visual panache yet also feeling run-of-the-mill in terms of plotting, Sam Raimi’s return to the superhero genre is welcoming but non-essential.
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Benedict Wong, Xochitl Gomez, Rachel McAdams
Plot: Dr. Stephen Strange casts a forbidden spell that opens the doorway to the multiverse, including alternate versions of himself, whose threat to humanity is too great for the combined forces of Strange, Wong and Wanda Maximoff.
Subject Matter: Moderate – Alternate Realities
Narrative Style: Slightly Complex
Audience Type: Mainstream
Viewed: In Theatres – Shaw Waterway Point
It may not be fashionable to say this but I enjoyed the first Doctor Strange (2016) more than this latest yarn. At this point, it is becoming more difficult for me to be genuinely thrilled by what Marvel puts out, but I’m holding out for maybe something special later this year, either from the new ‘Thor’ or ‘Black Panther’ movie.
Sam Raimi returns to the superhero genre he left fifteen years ago, ignominiously if I may add, with the badly-received Spider-Man 3 (2007).
With Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, he delivers a serviceable if non-essential entry—it isn’t impressive but somewhat works as another dish in what will be another long buffet line in this new rather underwhelming phase of the MCU.
When both Wong and the Scarlet Witch are more compelling than Doctor Strange whenever they are onscreen, it says something about the titular character hitting some kind of characterisation ceiling.
“I’m sorry, Stephen. Your desecration of reality will not go unpunished.”
The movie doesn’t do anything significant for the character, but if you see it as another plotted adventure with Raimi displaying the kind of visual panache he was known for in the past, then you might just enjoy this.
Multiverse of Madness could be Marvel’s darkest film so far, with elements of horror infused into its visual style and grammar.
The story, about a young girl (America Chavez as played by newcomer Xochitl Gomez) who can open portals to different alternate realities, does feel at times like a ploy to set the foundations for taking the franchise in a more ambitious, mind-bending direction.
The ploy is deliberate, of course, but these strategic setups that began most explicitly with Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021) feel less natural this time around as compared to the stream of movies that led to Avengers: Endgame (2019).