Written by Becca Johnson
With action aplenty and a little more scare than usual, Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness is nothing short of entertaining, though it struggles to feel entirely unique and is simply a tiny moving part to a larger machine.
Though we haven't had to wait too long for the next Marvel Cinematic Universe production, Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness is a movie that fans have been anticipating since Wandavision (2021) aired on Disney+. In the latest instalment, the MCU unlocks the multiverse as we journey into the unknown with Doctor Strange and allies both old and new, as the Scarlet Witch poses a threat to all universes.
Benedict Cumberbatch impresses yet again in the role of Doctor Strange – he has made it his own by now, and seeing him don his cloak is always well received. Elizabeth Olsen also reprises her role as Wanda Maximoff, who after experiencing tremendous hurt through losing her loved ones, now embodies the Scarlet Witch; her performance is wonderful and lives up to expectations. Having a character we already know and love as the villain pays off, as we have thorough understanding of her motive and know her power well enough to fear her. We also see young newcomer Xochitl Gómez as America Chavez, an individual who holds the power to travel between universes – a power that Wanda desires. America Chavez is a fun character who adds a much needed fresh new layer to the MCU, with Gomez' performance impressing. Other noticeable performances include Rachel McAdams and Benedict Wong as Cristine and Wong, respectively.
The main talking point leading up to release day was of course Sam Raimi returning to the superhero world to direct this instalment of the franchise. He mostly impressed with his Spider-Man trilogy, and is widely loved for his cult classic horror movie Evil Dead (1981) and the franchise it spawned. The main question on everyone's lips: how "Raimi" will this movie be? Luckily, his style runs true throughout. The kill count is fairly high, some of the kills being fairly gnarly and gory. It toys around with the undead, and even has one or two jump scares. Of course, it never goes full-on horror, but the elements are there, and they work.
The plot is unfortunately what lets the movie down. On one hand, it's full of action and never leaves room for attention to wander. There's always something juicy going on to keep the audience entertained, and it actually allows you to use your brain to figure things out, especially where the multiverse is concerned. However, it throws a lot of MCU lore into the mix that only die-hard fans will be familiar with, likely leaving many viewers a little confused. The action is great but it also lacks heart at times, the movies only purpose being to open the multiverse wider and keep things moving. Even with Raimi at the helm, it feels formulaic and not far different from what we've seen before. It relies on cameos and nods to previous/future movies to give any excitement, but we can only blame the MCU for this; it's what we're used to and what we expect.
Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness is another solid entry from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It utilises our favourite characters well, whilst also introducing new ones that look promising for the franchise. It has fun cameos, plenty of action and great visuals that feature a lot more colour and flair than we're used to seeing. Raimi uses his signature style to elevate the movie as much as he can, but it's still a Marvel movie, and often feels just like one. It sets up what's to come well, which leaves it feeling a bit like a filler.