Sam Raimi returns to the Marvel universe with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and he does a fantastic job. However, the well-hyped demonic sorcery will leave you wanting more.
Last Updated: 05.19 AM, May 05, 2022
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a fascinating journey through the Multiverse with Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), his trusted companion Wong (Benedict Wong), and Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen).
A few minutes into the film, Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) quarrel and she tells him, "You break the rules and become a hero. I do it and I become the enemy. That doesn't seem fair." Just after she mentions this, you can guess that in this multiverse of madness, Strange is stuck in a loop of being a supporting role despite having a titular role.
The film, which is defined as the first horror flick in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, sticks to the genre but not entirely. Director Sam Raimi, not only has the Spider-Man trilogy to his credit, but has also scared the hell out of the audience with his Evil Dead franchise. Thus, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is somewhat of a perfect amalgamation of both.
If we think that the film is the continuation of Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021), it's an extension of the Marvel series WandaVision (2021).
We got a glimpse of the reality of Wanda Maximoff as Scarlett Witch, and it was good enough to lose our minds back then. But now, with every frame, her witchiness keeps on getting better and better (not talking about her character).
However, it's the motive of her character that creates a slump in the film. We have seen Wanda mourning her brother Pietro Maximoff's death, bringing back the love of her life, Vision (Paul Bettany), in an alternate reality. And now, she loses her mind as she wants to spend time with her kids, whom she birthed via magic, as seen in WandaVision. The revenge of sorts created for Wanda has become monotonous since the time she has been a part of the MCU.
But watching Olsen in her Witch avatar is a visual treat to the next level. There are jump scares, which are worrisome for people who are not huge fans of horror genres but have to bear with it for their love of the MCU.
The world of the multiverse is explored well in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, but the "madness" gets lost in translation. Even though the film is just two hours long, some moments feel stretched and seem unnecessary. However, we get an idea of how the same frame can be created with multiple colour palettes. Well, the multiverse is just a world with alternate realities in the very existence of its people.
If you are reading this review, you must have noticed that it's taking me some time to mention Cumberbatch. Well, that's because, even though he is present in every frame, the story is not about him, but about stopping a villain who is supposedly the "strongest" Avenger (Scarlet Witch).
In a few "other" avatars of Doctor Strange, Cumberbatch makes his role meatier and we see shades of grey that we may have anticipated well enough knowing about the multiverse hullabaloo. But, with a runtime of two hours, you cannot expect a lot of chaos, but they did manage to squeeze it in. Cumberbatch shows why he is the perfect casting of Strange, be it in any world, and well, we can't wait to see more of him in better standalone sequels.
There's also another important character who has been present since the first frame of the film. We are talking about America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez), a teenager from another reality known as the Utopian Parallel who was given the ability to travel between dimensions as a youngster by punching open doorways.
In her limited role, she is the main catalyst for taking the story forward, as she is the traveller in the multiverse. In a very typical storyline, we see a child who has some powers grab the eyeballs of not only the villain but also the hero. Thus, a war descends for which you are not prepared, as you expected more in phase four of the MCU (well, I expected it!).
Talking about Chavez's performance, she gets overshadowed because there's no "control" over her. But we should expect more additions to the superhero clan, and she does make for a great fit.
Rachel McAdams also reprises her role as Christine Palmer, Doctor Strange’s love interest, in the film. She has more screen time than in the 2016 film, but there’s pretty much overshadowing done by other characters during her sequences.
Benedict Wong as Wong is the Sorceror’s Supreme now, and his character trajectory gets better with every outing he has been a part of.
It hardly takes time to establish the premise of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, but the unravelling seems like a to-and-fro, tedious process to watch.
Michael Waldron's screenplay has all the perfect elements to take the MCU franchise forward, and it has done justice to it. But having a solo film about Doctor Strange after six years, you just can't make him a supporting character in his story (that's the nicest way I can put it).
Danny Elfman's music, blended with John Mathieson's cinematography, gives a mellifluous touch in one of the best duel sequences, and it just made me sit upright because of the way it just translated onscreen.
In no way can I say that Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness should not be given a chance. It's a beautiful and horrific attempt, but like the cloaked superhero says in one of the scenes, "Everything you've ever known led you to this moment."
Sam Raimi was among the first few filmmakers who explored the Marvel superhero on the big screen. We have seen him nail and slay Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man trilogy in the early 2000s. After that, we saw him direct a horror film with an intriguing storyline, Drag Me to Hell (2009), and also explore another magical world with Oz the Great and Powerful (2013). Raimi's return to the world of Marvel with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a homecoming for him, and he indeed did a marvellous job. But, the demonic sorcery that is hyped well will leave you asking for more.