Director: Sam Raimi
Writer: Michael Waldron
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Chiwetel Ejifor, Benedict Wong, Xochitl Gomez, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Rachel McAdams
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is finally out. As the latest entry to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s not just a sequel to the first Doctor Strange, but to the Disney+ show WandaVision and acts as a follow-up of sorts to last year’s Spider-Man: No Way Home. It feels like the next big entry to the MCU, with ramifications that will be felt in future entries as the series continues to build its next story arc.
Picking up sometime after No Way the story jumps straight into the thick of it, with an opening scene that introduces newcomer America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez), as well as the multiverse. The film then slows down for just a moment to show you Doctor Strange attending Christine’s wedding (Rachel McAdams), before the pace ramps back up and doesn’t really stop until the final moments. There’s not one point of this film where it feels sluggish or you’re waiting for the end, it’s all action and all fantastic.
Each time that Benedict Cumberbatch has appeared as Doctor Strange he’s gotten better and better in the role, and this is no exception. He’s brilliant in every scene. He’s one of the best Marvel characters, both in comics and on the screen, and this feels like the film his character deserves. Likewise, Elizabeth Olsen is just fantastic as Wanda/Scarlett Witch, holding absolutely nothing back and giving one hell of a performance. She’s the best villain the MCU has seen so far. You can completely understand why she’s doing what she’s doing, you don’t want her to succeed but also don’t want her to completely fail. She’s scary, powerful and a real threat. After Thanos you’d expect her to feel like a small-time enemy, but Scarlett Witch immediately dispels those worries. There’s a lot of emotional weight to her journey after following her for several years that makes her that much better. If you haven’t already it’s a good idea to watch WandaVision before heading to the cinema for this one.
This film is also director Sam Raimi’s first film in almost ten years, and it’s so good to see something new from him. As much as this is a Marvel film, you can feel Raimi’s touch as well. It feels darker than anything so far in the film entries to MCU, not even Thanos’s snap comes close to the bleakness here. Raimi shows his horror roots, especially with the monsters, jump scares and hints at gore. It’s not a full-out horror film by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s still there. The visuals are gorgeous. With impressive cinematography from John Mathieson. It really feels like something that’s leaped straight out of a Marvel comic. The world of Doctor Strange is weird and wonderful, and while the multiverse is a lot more sane than the title suggests, the film doesn’t shy away from presenting the mind-bending world that Steve Ditko first put on paper back in the 60s.
There’s been a lot of hype surrounding this film with its cameos, especially coming hot on the heels of Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield in the latest Spider-Man. While there’s nothing quite as satisfying as seeing those two being back, there’s still some good fan moments. There are a couple of reveals that got a reaction from the audience, but they’re short lived and not the main focus. Without spoiling anything, most of the rumours aren’t true, but whether you’re a fan of Raimi, Marvel or both, there’s something here for you.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is everything you want it to be and more. It’s another excellent Sam Raimi film, another great Marvel film. It’s scary, emotional, funny, and full of spectacular visuals. This feels like it’s ripped straight from the comics in the best way possible.
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