Doctor Strange And
The Multiverse Of Madness
USA 2022 Directed by San Raimi
UK Cinema Release Print.
Warning: Yeah, this’ll have some spoilers.
Okay... this is going to be a fairly brief review, I think. It’s not that I didn’t like Doctor Strange And The Multiverse Of Madness... I did (and it might still grow on me some more). It’s a fine film and certainly an example of what is, currently, a typical Marvel Cinematic Universe movie. With more in the same vein teased in the first of the mid and post credits scenes. But I wasn’t exactly bowled over by it either... which is a shame because I think Sam Raimi can be a good director (I don’t think it’s his fault, for the record, as to why I had a less positive reaction to it than I'd expected) and I’ve always had a soft spot for the Marvel character of Doctor Stephen Strange.
The plot in this one deals... not with fall out from Spiderman No Way Home (reviewed here) as you would expect (although Spidey does get a quick mention)...in fact, it turns out that this film was originally supposed to have been released before that one. Nope, this one has a definite plot device of its own to cause alarm in one of the facets of the multiverse that Strange travels to. I said there would be spoilers in this review and so, if you want to avoid them, stop reading now...
It’s not a secret that joining regulars returning from the original Doctor Strange MCU film (reviewed here)... including Benedict Cumberbatch (as Doctor Strange), Benedict Wong (as Wong), Rachel McAdams as Dr. Palmer and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Baron Mordo... is Elizabeth Olsen, reprising her role as Wanda Maximoff aka The Scarlet Witch. Well, this film is pretty much kick started from fallout from her TV show WandaVision (reviewed here) but, instead of being a heroic character as she became after a brief stint as a villain at the end of Avengers Age Of Ultron (reviewed here), she actually reveals herself from very early on to be the main villain of the piece. It is she who is trying to get hold of new MCU character America Chavaz (played really nicely here by Xochitl Gomez). Chavez can travel through the multiverse but Wanda wants to kill her and take her powers to travel to a variant universe where she has children instead... which actually makes less sense than you might think, since she can piggy back into other versions of herself anyway.
It all gets a bit fraught and we get to see some guest character appearances, in different versions of their previous Marvel selves, along with new actors playing other variants. So Patrick Stewart enters the MCU as yet another version of Professor X (this film apparently marks the character’s fourth death on screen as played by Stewart), Hayley Atwell as Captain Peggy Carter (but a new superhero variant where she’s a kind of Captain Britain character who was in the What If? cartoon series) and John Krasinski as Reed Richards (yep, a multiverse variant of Mr. Fantastic also gets his MCU debut here)... plus a few others. And all of them die pretty horrible deaths at the hands of Wanda, it has to be said, although this is in no way a horror film, as some delicate parents have suggested (it’s a 12A certificate over here, for goodness sake and probably could have gotten away as a PG). True, there’s a person whose head implodes and another cut in half but, yeah, it’s all pretty bloodless for the most part (including those specific scenes), it has to be said.
It was fairly entertaining but the text was extremely dense and, on the way home from the cinema I was reflecting on why it mostly failed to connect with me. Well, despite a couple of scenes featuring Bruce Campbell (it’s a Raimi movie, so of course), there’s really not much humour in it. I mean, sure, some of the characters act in a humourous manner sometimes but, yeah, the script is not loaded with amusing dialogue and one liners like, say, the recent Spider-Man and Avengers movies. The film has a lot of gravitas and sometimes I felt like the writers were beating the audience over the head with the weight of the emotional consequences for various characters when they maybe should have injected a little more fun into things.
Raimi regular Danny Elfman was trying his best with the score here but, while he does include Michael Giacchino’s excellent leitmotif for the Stephen Strange character, it’s mostly very subtly done when, honestly, we needed that familiar theme to pop up way more often in the film, I think. It’s an okay score but, again, not much chance of me really finding out just how good or bad it is because, at time of writing, Hollywood Records have only released it on a useless electronic download and not on a physical CD... so this is another modern movie score I won’t be able to listen to properly, alas.
The first of the post-credits scenes, technically a mid credits scene, sets up another movie as a woman confronts Strange on a New York street and opens a portal to take him, once again, into another part of the multiverse. Well, this scene disappointed me because, when I saw the woman I was thinking to myself... “... please don’t be Clea, please don’t be Clea”. But then I checked the IMDB and, sure enough, this character is supposed to be the first appearance of Clea in the MCU. Frankly, she has none of the look and gothic impact of Doctor Strange’s future wife (and niece of the Dread Dormammu, if memory serves) and, yeah, she looks just like every other Marvel superhero clone (in fact, she looks more like the original version of Valkyrie in the comics). So I felt a bit deflated after that.
And that’s me done on Doctor Strange And The Multiverse Of Madness... which really does feel like a sequel to WandaVision more than anything else, truth be told. If you like the usual Marvel movies you will probably like this and, I certainly didn’t hate this one. However, all I will say is that, for residents of the UK, this is not the best of the multiverse movies at cinemas at present. For a much more entertaining look at alternate realities, check out my review of this one here.