Madness. Doctor Strange is a wild ride. Well, nothing less can be expected at this point in the MCU. After Endgame and Spider-Man: No Way Home, the pace and bravado of what Marvel is trying to do is obvious by now: keep the momentum going. While Shang-Chi was flawed but had good intentions and the Eternals… well… let’s not go down that rabbit hole. On to the review!
So, I don’t want to spoil the movie for you, so I will set up the movie (with mild spoilers for the first 15 minutes) then talk in vague phrases. The movie jumps right into the action with a ponytail version of Doctor Strange and a girl running away from some sort of demon, Strange is killed while the girl uses her powers to travel to the MCU universe. Stephan Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) wakes up from this nightmare then heads to another nightmare – attending his ex-lover, Christine Palmer’s (Rachel McAdams) wedding. During the reception, Doctor Strange and Wong (Benedict Wong) fight off a monster trying to kidnap America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez), a girl who can create portals to other universes. After the battle, she tells them monsters have been trying to take her for her powers. With clues from the body of the dead monster, Doctor Strange seeks Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olson) for help. And this is where the madness begins and my specific details end. So long story short, Strange and America travel through the Multiverse to escape the villain and run into a lot of people and there is a lot of death and fighting and… well… madness! That’s all I will say, no more!
Sam Raimi is back in the MCU. Can I say that? I guess after the last Spider-man movie we can make the argument he started this all? Anyway, this movie feels very much like a story he had plenty of control over. Most Marvel movies are cookie-cutter, and you can’t see the specific director’s handy work (there are exceptions) but this one is not like that at all. Raimi breathes his talents into the MCU and puts together a well-crafted film that doesn’t feel all over the place. It’s simple to follow, especially when we are dealing with the multiverse. I can break down the film into three words: Horror, Gory, and Madness
Horror: Raimi has roots in horror movies. This movie has plenty of dark moments. A lot of jump scares, demons, souls of the damned, you name it. The main villain is dark and menacing and you can barely recognize them from there other roles in the MCU. I’m an adult but I’m not a fan of horror movies but the jump scares got a bit much. I liked to be scared in other ways and jump scares in my opinion or just a cheap trick. Other than that, this film is dark, and you can feel it, which is nice because it adds some much-needed weight to the movie compared to most.
Gory: I was not expecting a PG-13 movie to get away with this one. I know the MPAA has rules of what you can and can’t show but somehow, I feel like they barely let some of these fight scenes squeak by. All the Marvel movies have people in typical ways. Not this movie. People are cut, melt, sliced, skewered, the list goes on and on. A lot of important cast members are killed in violent ways that will have you wincing and gasping. I’m not one for gore for the sake of gore, but it got the message across for this movie and I for one am for it.
Madness: Its in the title. The movie is quick, fast paced, and full of twists and turns. The ending was predictable but the journey to get there was all over the place. This had the feel of a Sam Raimi movie with a mix of what I enjoyed from the first Doctor Strange movie. Raimi plays to his strengths and to the strengths of what Doctor Strange has to offer. There is enough references and nods to some of the previous movies and it doesn’t feel overdone in that regard. There was one cameo that I was expecting but there even were more than I realized there would be. Overall, a fun and enjoyable film. We see the importance of sacrifice, making the hard choices for the sake of others, dealing with grief, and making the most of what you have in this life and living with our choices. I have mixed feelings about the villain. The movie has the same problem with No Way Home of not giving us a new villain per say, but it does offer closure to this character’s arc which I was more than happy with.
My only main problems with the potential this movie could have been. I was expecting more time in more universes, but I understand in not wanting to bog the audience down in an Inception like plot. Also, if you haven’t watched “WandaVision” and several episodes of “What if…?” you may be a bit lost. I would recommend a recap of those if you can find one on YouTube. America is a big character in this movie, but it feels like she wasn’t thought through well enough. She has her moments, a tragic back story and a journey of self-discovery and learning to control her powers but the script doesn’t give her enough to work with and when she goes from being in destress to hero, it feels slightly forced. These issues are minor and shouldn’t take away from the experience.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a wild and fun adventure. I was glad I decided to jump on and go along for the ride. Comic book movies still have some life in them. 8.1/10. (I changed my rating system, sue me.)
And there are 2 mid/post credit scenes, but you knew that.
Born and raised in Michigan, I am a huge fan of movies and a big history buff. I am a graduate of the University of Michigan (with a Bachelors in History, surprise) and currently an officer in the Michigan Army National Guard. I reside in the East Lansing, MI area. My hobbies include hiking, watching movies, playing video games, going to the shooting range, and traveling Up North (as we call it) for vacation.