DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS (2022)
Part Doctor Strange sequel, part proper introduction to the multiverse, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness tells a simple, contained story that fails to meet expectations, but is nonetheless a fun Sam Raimi ride.
Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) battles his strongest adversary yet on a journey that takes him and newcomer America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) across the multiverse, confronting new foes and enlisting familiar friends. Billed as the film that was going to blow the multiverse wide open, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness feels like a mere pinprick into the craziness that was promised. The film’s events certainly don’t justify the weight of the term “madness,” though Elizabeth Olsen brings the chaos as The Scarlett Witch. Her intensity and strength is on full display here, her character’s development reaching new heights. Gomez is a bubbly, fresh face on the scene who is vital to the story and a pleasant counter to the serious tones the story takes on. When sharing a screen together, Olsen and Gomez steal the show. Add in Rachel McAdams as Christine Palmer and you have a showcase of female power unlike anything we’ve seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe before.
It’s just that it all is brought down by the unusual approach of playing it all safe, doing little to expand upon what Spider-Man: No Way Home established in terms of the multiverse. While new “rules” are explained that help us better understand what is at play here, it all seems rather convenient for a basic story that seems to steal ideas from a number of other Marvel properties to try and justify its existence. It comes off as a less-than-satisfying sequel to WandaVision that doesn’t quite establish its own identity. While trademarks of Raimi’s style are present throughout, and it’s true that this looks stylistically different than a lot that we’ve seen in the MCU, it barely touches the horror field and instead feels regressive in presentation.
That’s not to say Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a total miss; it’s still a fun movie with a number of absolutely awesome moments, however few and far between. It just feels like we were sold something so much greater, that how it arrived in the mail looked so much different than how it looked online. Still, the multiverse is open for business and it’s clear that Marvel is heading into it full steam.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness hits theaters on Friday.
Photo from The Indian Express