Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is an episodic clusterfuck that people who are only looking for an amusement theme park ride will enjoy.
Doctor Strange has pretty much settled in as the guardian of the New York Sanctum. He’s not sorcerer supreme, his ex-girlfriend is getting married, and he’s been having strange dreams. But that’s what happens when you’re a superhero, and he takes it in stride. One day, the girl from his dreams pops up in his universe. It turns out that she’s an interdimensional traveler chased by Scarlet Witch. Strange and America must navigate their way through the multiverse and find a book that will help them defeat her.
The plot is simple enough, but since this is MCU, the sequel has to one-up whatever came before, lure fanboys to spend their disposable income and make sure it fits with the rest of the Marvel universe.
MCU enlists Sam Raimi to do the job. He is able to add something new to a typical corporate installment. There are creative spooky visuals here including a one-eyed Octopus-like creature, ghoulish specters, and a “musical” battle between two Stranges.
Unfortunately, these are just flourishes – and a sad reminder that Raimi could’ve done more if he wasn’t in a Marvel straightjacket – to a corporate installment. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a hodgepodge of horror and humor, with caricatures running around in service of a convoluted plot.
Eventually, there are cameos where it’s obvious that they’re filmed separately, with one fan-cast actor’s head horrendously CGI’d onto another person’s body. This requires you to be knowledgeable about MCU lore. Surely, with so many movies that have been released and Marvel dominating pop culture, you must be familiar with all the references.
This interconnectedness extends to its characters in the worst way. They’re simplified to accommodate a multi-dimensional adventure. Doctor Strange is again a babysitter to a teen superhero. America Chavez is nerfed. Scarlet Witch – a powerful being who can annihilate a team of superheroes in mom jeans – is a crazy bitch who only aspires to be a mom.
Benedict Cumberbatch is on autopilot. Xochitl Gomez is in need of more experience and her casting reeks of colorism. Benedict Wong does his best. Elizabeth Olsen is so great you’ll forget the sexist narrative she has to sell. The rest are decent enough with the little screentime they were given.
All of these will more likely register as a complaint from a critic who’s too pretentious for MCU. After all, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is an amusement theme park ride, not a movie.
But aren’t superhero movies supposed to make you root for someone and their journey? Not in this case apparently.
If you’re looking for a two-hour distraction that doesn’t need to have a memorable story, and characters to invest in, this sequel offers fun disposable entertainment.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is an amusement theme park ride turned movie - fun yet forgettable, expansive yet empty.