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Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022) – Review – A Chaotic and Extremely Fun MCU Film From Sam Raimi

May 3, 2022

Quick Thoughts – Grade – B+ – Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is an absolute blast and it’s cool knowing that Marvel let Sam Raimi be Sam Raimi. This might be the least MCU movie of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and that makes me very happy. I hope Disney/Marvel continue to allow directors to take chances and have fun. 

First and foremost, writing a review for a Marvel Cinematic Universe film is tough because I hate giving major plot points away. These films rely on secrecy and I was able to avoid all the spoilers, so I want you to have a chance to watch the movie without anything being spoiled. Just know that this sequel to the popular 2016 film Dr. Strange focuses on Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Wong (Benedict Wong) protecting a multiverse traveler named America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez), from villains who want to use her multiverse traveling power for nefarious purposes. What follows is a chase through different timelines that features weddings, bloodshed (lots of death here), and stolen pizza balls that lead to a great Bruce Campbell cameo. I’m pretty sure the trailers have already given away who the villain is, but I don’t want to do that. Instead, I want to focus on the reason I was so excited to see the film. That reason is Sam Raimi, the director of Evil Dead, A Simple Plan, Spider-Man (2002), and Darkman (listen to the MFF episode we recorded about it).

The best thing about Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is that it allows Sam Raimi to be himself. Sure, he can’t go full bonkers, but that would never be expected because the MCU is carefully managed. However, this is a gnarly picture that tosses you into the action and never stops. It’s chaotic, messy, violent, bloody, cheeky, and barely has enough time to develop characters. Raimi loads it up with his famous dutch angles, roaming camera and absurd moments that make you feel like you’re back in the 1980s watching Evil Dead in a theater (except it’s PG-13 and has a giant budget). There is WAY too much CGI, but Raimi finds a way to use it in his favor as Strange, Wong, America, and Wanda Maxmioff (Elizabeth Olsen – so good) battle demons, musical notes (yep), zombies and a one-eyed monster whose eye is plucked from its body with a sound effect that sounds like a gooey pop. There are moments in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness that I never thought I’d see in an MCU film (a certain character goes full T-1000 from Terminator 2), and for that, I applaud Raimi and Kevin Feige.

It’s nice seeing Dr. Strange moving on from being Dr. Jerk Face, to become a less-jerky man who has helped save the world multiple times, but lost most of the people he loves in the process. His all-time love Christine Palmer has married someone else, and he lost the Sorcerer Supreme title because he was blipped during the rampage of Thanos. The character change makes him more human and appealing, and it’s nice not watching a sassy Cumberbatch be smarter than everyone for two hours. The biggest issue I have is that the America Chavez character is given very little to do aside from run, get caught, and run more. I’m hoping her further adventures allow her to become more of a character and less of a sprinter. 

The production design by Charles Wood (Dr. Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy) is excellent and he must’ve had a stressful and fun time designing loads of sets that range from futuristic to total nightmares. Also, the cinematography by John Mathieson (Gladiator, Logan) has a corporate MCU-esque shine, but still finds ways to incorporate old school Raimi techniques that blend well and don’t take you out of the experience because the dutch angles are too insane.

Final thoughts – I love Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. It’s messy, chaotic and over-loaded, but that makes me like it more. It means that the folks at Marvel are allowing things to get messy, chaotic, and over-loaded.

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