Title – Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)
Director – Sam Raimi (Evil Dead)
Cast – Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, Rachel McAdams, Bruce Campbell
Plot – After enacting out a forbidden spell that has opened the doorways to multiple universes interacting with the world as we know it, Dr. Stephen Strange (Cumberbatch) must battle dark foes including alternate versions of himself to help set things right and return the world to its correct form.
“I’m sorry, Stephen. Your desecration of reality will not go unpunished”
Review by Eddie on 05/05/2022
With Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness initially rumored to have a first cut that was close to three hours in length, the version we get of Dr. Strange’s second solo outing is a film that feels in every instance a product influenced by both extensive re-shoots (rumored as well to be virtually a re-shoot of the entire film) and a studio trimming, as director Sam Raimi’s return to the Marvel universe he first entered all the way back in 2002 with the original Spider-Man becomes a visual feast, but one that marks a notable backwards step for Marvel from the past few years of notable wins.
A tough film to get a handle on, with its mix of horror, sci-fi, action, comedy and heart all uneasily combining into a feature that feels rushed and in the grand scheme of things mostly pointless in the overall Marvel picture, Madness has an over abundance of ideas and story strands that do feel as though they belong in a longer more expertly paced film but here get little thought or care as Benedict Cumberbatch’s wise magician races across the universe we know and don’t know to protect a powerful new acquaintance, all the while battling a particularly powerful foe and the ramifications of his own actions in Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Wasting very little time or effort establishing the films main goal, Madness races out of the blocks with a number of visually arresting early scenes but little in the way of gripping storytelling, something Marvel is often able to do while all the while providing the exact blockbuster experiences audiences clamber for, there’s a sense that becomes almost immediately apparent that both Raimi and Marvel were unsure of how to bring this part of the Strange story to life in a way that was going to give airtime to all of its components, both for its characters and its universe spanning expedition.
Those expecting an abundance of visits to alternate realities (Marvel’s excuse to offer fan service and cameos in various shapes and forms) will be disappointed to know that Madness isn’t going to be providing too many pit stops as it settles into a mid-movie groove that stays with us for most of what comes after it, while hopes also of the multiple realities giving us a large collection of new, old and re-imagined characters are perhaps not what we all expected, even if there are a few segments and situations that are likely to get some decent audience reactions, if nothing compared to what No Way Home bought to the table.
Another glaring aspect of the film that feels at odds within itself is the fact you can tell Raimi was no doubt keen to explore in greater detail the horror elements of Stephen Strange’s adventure across dimensions and while there are certainly far more horror filled and horrific moments in Madness that aren’t usually a part of the Marvel parcel, many of these intriguing and potentially surprising elements are mostly forgotten about as quickly as they arrived with only a few moments of Raimi genius such as a battle with musical notes or zombie inspired detours giving us much in the way of unique Marvel experiences.
As you walk away from this latest Marvel money maker (more than likely solemnly after wasting an extra 10 minutes of your valuable time waiting for a brand name worse end credits sequence) there’s little to hold onto and while Dr. Strange as a character and Cumberbatch as an actor remain a great piece of the Marvel cinematic world, this latest head tripping blockbuster event stands out merely as an odd misfire from a usually pinpoint accurate studio.
Final Say –
While thriving visually and offering up the odd moment of bizarre genius, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a surprisingly off-note return to the blockbuster world for Sam Raimi and an instantly forgettable step down for Marvel following the global smash that was No Way Home.
2 mustard bottles out of 5