Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness (2022) Review

Dr. Strange In The Multiverse of Madness (2022) Review
Dr. Strange In The Multiverse of Madness (2022) Review 1
Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness
IMDB: LINK
Director(s): Sam Raimi
Actor(s): Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams, Elizabeth Olsen
Film Genre(s): Action , Adventure , Fantasy
Running Time: 126 min

Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness has been a much anticipated movie for a number of reasons. Spider-Man: No Way Home introduced us to what can happen when we play in the Multiverse, leading to a lot of fan theories that they hope come true. Another reason is the return of Sam Raimi to Marvel and, lastly, the hope that we can figure out what to expect moving forward during this phase of the MCU. There are more reasons to watch the film than there are Loki variants.

I won’t tell you if the fan theories about Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness are true. I know, but I’ll die before I spoil, but we can talk about the plot a bit. Doctor Strange encounters a powered teen by the name of America Chavez (played by Xochitl Gomez) and, after some strange encounters connected to other Universes, the former Sorcerer Supreme seeks the help of Wanda Maximoff. Does adventure ensue? Well, of course.

Dr. Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness (2022) Review 2
(L-R): Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez, Benedict Wong as Wong, and Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange in Marvel Studios’ DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2022. All Rights Reserved.

Elizabeth Olsen’s latest turn as the Scarlet Witch is in its own way, a sequel to the hit WandaVision and a wonderful exploration into Wanda’s pain and endless search for a happy ending. Olsen turns in a spectacularly conflicted performance that provides the audience with a wide range of emotions.

The story of Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness takes you through a number of different universes and brings us characters new and old, such as Baron Mordo (Played by Chiwetel Ejiofor), whose dynamic with Benedict Cumberbatch’s Dr. Strange is wonderful. You can expect the Multiverse to bring you a number of surprises along the way as well.

Benedict Wong is back with his usual solid performance as current Sorcerer Supreme, Wong. He’s always a perfect comic relief for Strange’s more straight-man moments, and he gets more of an opportunity to kick some butt. 

Also returning is Canadian actress Rachel McAdams (who I always realize how much I miss seeing her in things when she finally pops back up) as the Dr.’s true love, Christine Palmer. McAdams puts out such a natural goodness into the role that helps you buy into her permanent residence in Strange’s heart.

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Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff in Marvel Studios’ DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2022. All Rights Reserved.

When it is all said and done, though, this movie has Sam Raimi’s sensibilities all over it. And I say sensibilities (plural) intentionally. You see in this film his signatures from the iconic Spider-Man trilogy, you see Sam Raimi, Horror Director and you see a lot of his campy nature as well, all the way to some creatures that look like they were torn from Army of Darkness.

Raimi isn’t the only one returning from Marvel’s past. Famed composer Danny Elfman makes his comeback to Marvel for the first time since working with Raimi on Spider-Man 2 and 3. His themes are always recognizable and, for this movie, add a tone that is different from every project to exist within the MCU and, frankly, it is a requirement to tell the audience that what they are watching is different than any MCU movie they have seen before.

“To say that Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness takes some big swings is a gross understatement.”

To say that Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness takes some big swings is a gross understatement. The acting is bigger for the most part, they are introducing more cartoony characters than have existed in the Universe thus far and some of the hero shots scream early 2000’s superhero movies. These are not a knock on the movie in any way, but an early warning that what you are about to witness is extremely outside of the box.

The one part that grounds every scene is Benedict Cumberbatch in his unyieldingly cocky, but inherently good portrayal of Dr. Strange. Having his base tone not change reminds you that he is not always in the world that we are used to, but we still have something to  connect to.

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Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange in Marvel Studios’ DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2022. All Rights Reserved.

I did mention that the swings were big in this film and, for me, they didn’t always hit. But the Multiverse of fans can find a lot of things that will bring them pure joy, from just being a different flavour of MCU movie, to nostalgia, to fan service and so much more. While some checked boxes will inevitably make you mad, there are still plenty of boxes that will take you on a fun ride.

While there is so much I can’t tell you about what I saw at the screening, I can tell you that there were many moments that got genuine cheers from my fellow critics (a first for any critics’ screening that I’ve attended). 

My biggest complaint is that I come out of the movie not really knowing how I am supposed to see this movie. If I am seeing it as a small part of the MCU as a whole, then I feel like I am missing some of the connective tissue that helps push the story forward in a meaningful way. That’s not to say that there are no signs as to what is coming up, but we aren’t seeing those obvious bridge scenes found in older MCU movies that give us a good idea as to where the Cinematic Universe might be headed. 

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Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff in Marvel Studios’ DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2022. All Rights Reserved.

If, however, I am looking at this as a standalone movie, much like a special edition of a comic book, then you can really settle in and witness Sam Raimi’s genius at work, telling an out there story that works so much better without the stakes of Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness bleeding into the rest of the movies in the Universe.

Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness comes in hot with some ideas that we haven’t seen in the proper MCU and some ideas that feel like they were ripped from the cells of a cartoon and bravely introduced into a live action Universe. MCU Completionists don’t need the review to go see it. You’ll be there. To the people who have shared concerns about the genre getting a little stale, this may be the fresh take you’ve been waiting for.

Final Thoughts

REVIEW SCORE

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