‘Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness’ (2022)
Directed by: Sami Raimi
Written by: Michael Waldron
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, Xochitl Gomez & Rachel McAdams.
Ever since the events of the Disney+ series ‘WandaVision‘ and last year’s ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home‘, fans of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe, of course) have been waiting with high anticipation for the next franchise installment, knowing that all roads were leading to some “madness” and to a look at the “multiverse”. ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness‘ gives us a healthy portion of each! Everyone’s favorite “Master of the Mystic Arts” is back played perfectly by Benedict Cumberbatch as though he stepped right out of the comics! It starts with a bang as an alternate reality Dr. Strange is battling his way through another dimension with a young girl in an attempt to reach the Book of Vishanti. The young girl (played by Xochitl Gomez) is America Chavez who is a much newer character in Marvel Comics (first appearing in “Vengeance” #1 from 2011) and she has the ability to randomly travel through the Multiverse. This leads her to OUR Earth (616, for those keeping track) where she is being pursued by yet another demon before being rescued by OUR Dr. Strange and Wong (played again by actor Benedict Wong) who is the current Sorcerer Supreme. (Do you need a flowchart yet?) From there, Strange surmises that they may need the help of Wanda Maximoff to combat the threats they will face. Soon, our heroes learn that Wanda (played by Elizabeth Olsen) has become The Scarlet Witch and that the threats they face come directly from her! After the events of ‘WandaVision’ and the loss of her mystically created children, Wanda turned to dark magic in order to find a way to reach a reality where her children actually exist and she needs the spells contained with The Darkhold (the anti-thesis to the Book of Vishanti) coupled with America Chavez’s power to travel the multiverse in order to reach them.
To say anything more would be to spoil so much greatness and several key plot points about the movie. Suffice it to say that there are huge surprises in store for everyone from avid Marvel Studios fans to hardcore comic book aficionados. However, as this is the 28th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and that this film also has tie-ins with a few of the Disney+ based Marvel TV Series, my worry is that the casual movie-goer may end up feeling slightly overwhelmed or even lost by all the plot threads that this movie attempts to pull together as it goes forward. I would highly recommend that one would, at the very least, need to watch 2016’s ‘Doctor Strange‘, ‘Avengers: Infinity War‘, ‘Avengers: Endgame‘ as well as the Disney+ series ‘WandaVision‘ and ‘What If…?‘ in order to truly grasp the majority of what goes on in this movie. Sam Raimi directs this installment and his influence on the film is incredibly tangible in all of the very best ways! As I was watching the movie, the music struck me and I remember thinking that it was familiar and also absolutely perfect for each scene. So it came as very little surprise when “Music by Danny Elfman” came up during the credits. (If someone were to score the events of my life, I need that person to be Danny Elfman!) For people who have, in the past, complained that the Marvel films are “formulaic” or “cookie-cutter”, Sam Raimi upends that notion completely. While it fits in well with the established MCU both in characterization and story, this one has undeniable horror movie tones that land squarely in Mr. Raimi’s wheelhouse. In fact, I would say that what Taika Waititi did for Thor, Sam Raimi has done for Dr. Strange. This is a reinvigoration of an already fascinating character and will no doubt reverberate into the rest of his appearances going forward (especially if the first of the post-credit scenes is any indication!). Oh yeah, there are 2 post credit scenes in this one, so stick around for both!!
The more I ponder this movie, the more I like it. There were those moments when I gasped and pointed to the screen in excitement (you’ll know them when you see them) but with any film that has built this much anticipation, you’re also bound to feel slightly let down because “this wasn’t included” or “I wish we could have more of that”. You can nitpick a movie to death over little details or you can enjoy the immense scale which it delivers and it’s overall contributions to a story now 28 films into the making. I didn’t detect any major plot holes or story related problems and while I would have liked to have seen a bit more of the “multiverse” that is advertised in the title, I’m content to know that it is now an open concept going forward and one that our newest MCU character can access at will. (Convenient plot device? Yes. Exciting as heck? Certainly!) I’m looking forward to seeing this one again in IMAX to more fully enjoy the visual effects that bombard your senses during the course of the film’s 2 hour & 6 minute run time while looking for Easter Eggs I may have missed upon my first viewing. On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d say that ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ manages to conjure up a solid 8! Tickets are on sale NOW at your local theater! Get out and see it soon to avoid having any of the amazing cameo’s and plot points spoiled for you!!