“Raimi’s flair for horror shines in this chaotically entertaining entry in the ever-expanding MCU”
Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness – Review
Have you ever had to step out of a theater mid-movie to run and use the bathroom? Before you bolt for it, cursing the bladder-shattering mega cola you inhaled in 15 minutes, you sit there, debating on when it would be best to go. You have not seen the movie you’re watching before, so you do not know when it is best to make a sprint for it. You do not want to miss that key moment, the big reveal, the surprise death, or the biggest set piece of the action.
Eventually, you cave, running as if pursued by an invisible coke-fueled gorilla. Once deflated, you shimmy back to your seat, angering all whose path you cross, until finally, you sit, staring at the screen again, trying to soak at the moment from which the movie has now carried on without you. Something is missing.
Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness – Dysfunctional Fun
That wave of FOMO hits you, clearly, you missed the secret reason, the exposition that answers the big question but no one around you is going to fill you in as you’ve just stepped on all of their toes going to and from the restroom. So now you sit, waiting until the movie will hopefully reiterate its big secret once again, but that moment never comes…
This was the feeling I had for the entire time I watched Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Not the bladder bit, the confusion part. From start to finish, Multiverse felt to me as if I had missed a key piece of dialogue, or that I was not caught up on all the latest films or Disney+ shows. Which, for clarity's sake, I am caught up. The film felt as if it was written far more for the true Marvel fans, the comic book readers who have absorbed hundreds of issues, and who just wanted to see their favorite characters come to life on screen. This felt like the first Marvel film that was not aimed at the movie-going-only crowd.
Multiversal Travel and America Chavez
The main culprit of this confusion centers around the newcomer character America Chavez, portrayed by Xochitl Gomez. At no fault of Gomez, her character just appears, stating that her powers are important, and that is pretty much your lot. This would not be such a problem had the character not been the key driving force of the plot. It is her powers that allow for travels between multiversal planes, but beyond defining that she can do this, we are never given a solid reason as to why she can, how she can do this, or what significance her existence bares. She just can and the baddie wants that power.
Fret not though, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is by no means a bad film. On the contrary, I still found myself rather enjoying it, thanks largely to returning Marvel director Sam Raimi, and Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch.
Sam Raimi Brings Horror
Raimi delivers the MCU’s first horror film, and man oh man is it pretty wild for a Disney-sanctioned comic book film. Enemies are cut in half, their heads exploded with a squish, dead bodies, and evil spirits cling to characters as if this were an Evil Dead film from Raimi’s past. He clearly was given a good chunk of freedom, and I would love to see his full vision, which I am sure is locked away on a hard drive somewhere #releasetheRaimicut! Raimi’s flair for horror shines as the brightest spot in this chaotically entertaining entry in the ever-expanding MCU, alongside alum Elizabeth Olsen.
Olsen brings the film’s best performance in Multiverse. Picking up right where we last saw her at the end of “WandaVision,” the now realized Scarlet Witch is emotionally tormented, unstable, and convincingly chaotic as she struggles with the loss of her family.
The titular Dr. Strange played by Benedict Cumberbatch feels right at home, though I wish he would eventually be on top of his game. While his portrayal is all together solid and familiar, his character is still being written as if he has a great deal to learn. Maybe it is just my own hopes and dreams for Strange, but I wish he would start to be one step ahead of the challenges he faces instead of still in the learning phase.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a mixed bag
Ultimately, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a bit of a mixed bag. When it is creepy, intense, and surprising, the film shines. Albeit some hit and miss visual effects that I can still forgive in light of the ongoing pandemic.
When the film was at its lowest, however, I found a lack of direction behind the main motivations of the film's plot which left me feeling as if I had to do some mandatory research once I exited the theater. Like it or not, we are firmly in the MCU multiverse era now, I just hope we get some much-needed clarity as things progress.
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