Director Sam Raimi dives straight into conflict, chaos, action and horror in the 2022 Marvel film ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’. Doctor Strange and a young girl are in some other-worldly dimension, having a hard time fighting a formidable monster. To defeat an unknown super-villain, Strange turns to Wanda AKA the Scarlett Witch for help, but things don’t go as planned.
Benedict Cumberbatch is sharp as usual as the eccentric and sarcastic Doctor Strange, however, Elizabeth Olsen completely overshadows him; not only does she get a meatier part as Scarlett Witch, but delivers it with a grit that steals the titular protagonist’s thunder. While Cumberbatch gets to play different versions of the great sorcerer in alternate universes, Olsen brings profound duality to just the one character, her emotions seeping through her voice. Xochitl Gomez plays America Chavez, a young girl who is being hunted for her rare superpower and is under the protection of Strange.
As far as the ‘Multiverse Madness’ quotient goes, the makers set up high expectations with the title, it rings with the promise of the kind of entertainment Taikia Waititi delivered in ‘Thor Ragnarok’, but is nowhere nearly as fun. While the plot is packed with several action sequences, Sam Raimi’s soft spot for macabre surfaces in this film. He sneaks in several horror-like scenes and they are the best highlights of this film. In the trailer, viewers gets a brief glimpse of a zombie-like Doctor Strange and that little twist will have horror fans absolutely thrilled. Visually, the movie is dual-toned, flitting between bright gorgeous outdoors and dark ominous surroundings, including ancient places filled with magic. The VFX team has done a fantastic job with the creepy creatures Strange fights throughout the runtime.
Now to the question on the minds of some fans who haven’t seen ALL the Marvel – do you need to have seen them all to understand this one? Not really. But you’ll definitely appreciate it more if you’ve seen the ones featuring Wanda and Strange, and also if you’ve watched the 2021 animated series ‘What If…?’ which is all about the multiverse. Although, those who’ve seen ‘What If…?’, won’t be surprised with any twists and will find the plot slightly repetitive. What starts off as a intriguing story about saving the world, soon turns into a tale of grief, love and personal trauma.
Compared to the build-up and multiple universes, the climax was rather tame. Written from an emotional/inspirational point-of-view, it feels more like a soap-opera than a start-studded super hero film. A last minute twist with the promise of more ‘Doctor Strange’ movies might mitigate the disappointment. But this felt more like a Scarlett Witch film.
It’s a 7/10 from me.
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