May 5, 2022

CINEMA | Conjuring 'Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness'

"Your desecration of reality will not go unpunished."
Benedict CumberbatchSam Raimi | Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness | Marvel Studios
Marvel Studios
Original Spider-Man director Sam Raimi takes over the reins of the Doctor Strange franchise starring a returning Benedict Cumberbatch as the arrogant surgeon turned Master of the Mystic Arts in Marvel Studios' jam-packed, universe-bending superhero sequel, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

Raimi brings his stylish sense of bright and playful horror thrills to the MCU but how the convoluted plot motivations of the true villain unfold is nothing short of absolutely maddening only to be proven by the way its eventual resolution is executed. Co-starring Elizabeth Olsen as the Scarlet Witch fresh off her mind-bending domestic misadventures in WandaVision, her arc seems rushed and hastily constructed after the thoughtful, psychological deep dive into her psyche in her own starring series. She commits as always but is underserved. Much of her development or course correction character-wise seems undone by her key inclusion.

Thankfully, Rachel McAdams gets much more to do outside of her relationship with Strange as an alternate version of her Christine character with their own agency and role in the chaos. Benedict Wong continues to be Strange's secret weapon and ace highlight whenever he shows up next to Strange. Newcomer Xochitl Gomez co-stars as the dimension-hopping teen America Chavez in a fun but hurried role where who she is and what her role is revealed at a breakneck pace without much development.

Scripted by Loki creator Michael Waldron, there's so much disjointed bombastic action going on with such a tight timeframe where Chavez shows up being chased by interdimensional monsters before a mystical war breaks out between warring realities. Juggling so many different characters while trying to fit in nicely between all the other Marvel films and series is certainly no easy feat but it gets dizzying despite all the shiny entertainment on display.

Raimi's talent and reverence bring so much energy to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Still, the central storyline is so ridiculous considering the universe destroying stakes and sheer multiversal death count. A slew of wild cameos and comic book references cannot save us from the very messy, overstuffed superhero shenanigans where it kind of feels like there are only a few key characters and a handful of generic locations despite the film taking place literally across several different realities and dimensions.

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