Sam Raimi returns to the world of comic book spectacle in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and he’s bringing a touch of his horror flare with him. This has been a highly anticipated MCU installment as it promises to expand on the multiverse. Officially bringing fans into the next step of the cinematic universe. So, it’s safe to say there is a lot riding on this film to usher in the next major direction for the world and its growing roster of heroes. Doctor Strange back in 2016 was a visually appealing film, but it did fall a bit too comfortably into the Marvel Studio formula.
This film was different however and I appreciated that. The overall plotline was a bit thin and honestly it was a little too busy. The story is constantly attempting to establish new layers while also progressing the main narrative and it clutters up the flow in stretches. There is a lot of exposition heavy dialogue that does bog down the pace and thus, the enjoyment. There are frequent large, visually stunning, set pieces to get the energy ramped up. However, they are routinely followed with explanation filled scenes that bring the mood and engagement right back down. Overall though, The Multiverse of Madness provides plenty of eye-popping comic book action and it does sprinkle in many little appealing nuggets.
It’s an immersive film, it has many surprises, and unlike the first Doctor Strange, there’s an element of unpredictability that was appealing. You never really know where this story will go or what character will slip in next, and for an MCU film that was refreshing. So, where this story felt overstuffed with fan service, worldbuilding, and its own ever evolving plotline, the darker horror tone, the visual appeal, and the element of mystery compensated effectively.
The performances were as solid as you would expect. Cumberbatch was commanding in the lead and Benedict Wong once again comes in to subtly cement the cast’s human emotions. Newcomer Xochitl Gomez delivers a sincere performance and once again Elizabeth Olsen lives and breathes Wanda. Which does lead to a slight issue I had with this one. Without spoilers, I will say this story was a bit too Wanda focused, and too future focused. There were times it felt Stephen Strange was taking a backseat in his own movie and that was a little disappointing.
It is all part of the bigger picture of course. The Multiverse of Madness felt like it was 50% Doctor Strange sequel and 50% worldbuilding to the next era of the MCU. I wanted something a little more focused but at the same time it wasn’t as messy as say, The Amazing Spider-Man 2. It boasts many strong elements such as the visuals, Raimi’s direction, the scoring from Elfman, and its ambition overall. It was also nice to see the MCU fully embrace its PG-13 rating, and while The Multiverse of Madness may have its flaws. I don’t think they overshadow its positives and when all is said and done, it’s certainly a film to check out on the big screen because it will take you on a ride of delightful madness.
Anthony J. Digioia II © 2022 SilverScreen Analysis. All Rights Reserved.