“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” – a mad rush into the magical whirlpool (review)

The Master of the Mystic Arts returned to the silver screen this weekend as Marvel’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness debuted with a stellar $450 million worldwide, delighting Marvel Studios and Disney and becoming the biggest release of 2022.

Warning: Spoilers ahead

But the multiverse may have lingered as a Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) plot device in this hasty affair that sees Doctor Strange jumping through multiple alternate realities to protect a dimension-jumping girl named America Chavez and stop the Scarlet Witch from being enslaved. a multiverse using a book of evil spells called the Darkhold.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness once again features Benedict Cumberbatch as the titular wizard, Benedict Wong as Wong, Rachel McAdams as Dr. Christine Palmer, and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Karl Mordo. Also starring in the magical fireworks show are Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch and Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez. (If you’re looking for a sci-fi look at the Marvel Universe, check out our guide to Marvel movies, as well as how to watch Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness when it leaves theaters for Disney Plus and other services.)

The teasers and trailers for Doctor Strange 2 have been somewhat misleading as to Scarlet Witch’s motives and goals, so get ready for some clever bait and switch.

Basically, it was a foregone conclusion that director Sam Raimi would bring his signature horror show to Marvel’s 2016 sequel to Doctor Strange, and the results are a disturbing, phantasmagoric journey of the mind into the untapped depths of madness, tied to a sketchy narrative that’s often perplexing. . It was hoped that director Scott Derrickson would return to helm the sequel, but due to creative differences and time constraints, he left early to tackle The Black Phone.

Raimi honed his cinematic skills by starring in popular cult horror films such as The Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2, and Army of Darkness before venturing into more mainstream films when Hollywood used his twisted vision in the Man of Darkness trilogy. spider” of the 2000s. starring Tobey Maguire.

Raimi last directed a feature film in 2013 when he directed Oz the Great and Powerful. a cyclopean space squid, musical notes turned into magical shrapnel, and a splash-colored dimension.

“After that, I wasn’t close to directing anything,” Raimi told Collider. “After that, I needed time to get hungry again, learn about filmmaking, take some classes, do some gardening.”

If you haven’t watched any of the Marvel TV shows, you might want to check out WandaVision before watching Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. (Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Long in development, this newest MCU movie is at times a tangled mess that gets tiring towards the final blow that feels like something out of a hyperactive Harry Potter spectacle. While Derrickson’s Doctor Strange takes a more measured approach to the character and brings genuine pathos to his origin story, Raimi’s bombastic sequel feels like too many chefs have spoiled the narrative soup.

His flair for dramatic Dutch angles, undead heroes and cackling demons is evident, and if your idea of ​​a killer Doc Strange movie is one of a decaying zombified sorcerer battling a witch mom trying to unite with her imaginary children, then you’ll be thoroughly entertained. But have a set of earplugs ready!

The film is loud, often visually exciting, oddly uninteresting and fast-paced at the same time. At just over two hours long (including endless credits), this is one of the shortest MCU movies in recent memory, though you’d be hard-pressed to find fans craving some more sizzling energy bolts and mystical shields. exploding in an endless shower of sparks.

While 2016’s Doctor Strange seems like a sophisticated adult movie, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is an adrenaline-pumping acid special after school with a teenage protagonist who isn’t very convincing, at least not enough. to pin an entire MCU movie.

But the brilliant special effects are a revelation here, and the dimensional warps that Cumberbatch experienced will make you feel like you’ve been strapped to a hyper-coaster for two hours after swallowing a couple of foot long corn dogs and a funnel cake. .

The obligatory post-credits surprise sets up the MCU’s future Multiverse war as the sorceress Clea (Charlize Theron) appears to be telling Strange that he caused an interdimensional invasion that needs to be fixed.

Doctor Strange travels the multiverse with a teenager who can punch through reality in “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness”. (Image credit: Marvel Studios)

There are the necessary references to Marvel TV shows like WandaVision and the Avengers movies, as well as having a solid understanding of past events in the MCU to make sense of everything that’s going on.

The rambling script written by Michael Waldron (Disney Plus’ Loki) does feature some surprise jump scares and paranormal fireworks, but it doesn’t make much sense if you dare to think too much about it.

In the comics, America Chavez is a powerful Latina lesbian superhero raised by two mothers, but here she is reduced to a normal teenager in an Old Glory denim jacket and a rainbow flag pin. Here was a chance to create an intriguing team, but he never showed up. Her alliance with Doctor Strange and his liking for her seems awkward at times, with inconsistent tones and a total lack of chemistry.

One glaring note we can attest to is that Raimi alumnus Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead trilogy) makes a hilarious cameo as a food vendor selling pizza balls on an alternate Earth. When Doc Strange hits him with a spell, he re-shoots his famous self-inflicted face punch scene from Evil Dead 2.

Despite the fast pace, tedious exposition, and very large plot holes, the performances are all flawless, and it will be interesting to see if Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness takes off or fails at the box office for once. more people have experienced its Bizarro atmosphere.

Should Hollywood have a moratorium on the multiverse? Yes please!

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is in theaters now. You can check out our Marvel streaming guide for the first Doctor Strange and the superhero multiverse.

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