You don’t really need much introduction to this one, do you? We all know the MCU by now, even if you’ve never seen a movie from this universe before. To be fair, if you’ve not seen a Marvel movie by this point… you might very well be an alien. Amongst Marvel fanatics, this Doctor Strange sequel is one of three highly anticipated movies slated to be released in 2022 (the others being Thor: Love and Thunder and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever). It’s safe to say that this is not a bad year for comic book movie obsessives at the very least.
When we re-join Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), he’s in the midst of realising the extent of what he did during the events of Spider-Man: No Way Home, and by that, I mean the fact that he unintentionally split open the multiverse. Yikes. With the help of a talented young girl named America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) who can travel through the multiverse at will. Or, in her case, Chavez travels cannot control her power and often accidentally opens portals to other dimensions with no prior warning. When Doctor Strange pays a visit to an old friend to ask for her help, he quickly realises that his friend (yes, I’m referring to Wanda, a.k.a. Scarlet Witch, a.k.a. Elizabeth Olsen), is already more involved with the multiverse than he’d realised.
Okay, so I’ll try not to dive into any other spoilers other than the very mild ones I’ve included in the above synopsis. Although Multiverse of Madness has already almost doubled its budget less than a week after its release, there are still some people who will not have seen it, so I’m sure you’ll understand.
Let me start off by saying that this wasn’t so much a Doctor Strange movie as it was a Wanda movie… and I am not mad. Okay, it still is very much a Strange movie and he does have some character and story development here, but fans of Disney+ series WandaVision will be more than happy by Wanda’s inclusion, as she is very much front and centre throughout. (Yay!)
Truth be told, Elizabeth Olsen is the undisputed star of Multiverse of Madness. Her range is out of this world, and this movie is an extension of what she already showed us she could do in her recent TV show. Everyone else was very good; Olsen was excellent. And, without wanting to spoil anything, I am actually obsessed with the cameo choices. The great thing about them is that they were not obvious picks… and one of them in particular was met with an audible gasp. Do with that what you will if you’ve managed to avoid spoilers thus far.
As you may have already heard, visually there are some huge hits but also some slight misses going on. For me, the only questionable sequence came with the opening scene, which seemed unintentionally disjointed, with slightly unfinished-looking graphics that took away from it all a little bit. Other than that, I found very little wrong with the special effects in all honesty. Sam Raimi’s creativity is the embroidery that stitches the aesthetic of this movie together and it’s really great to see Marvel letting directors put their own stamp on the MCU (see: Taika Waititi) once again.
Not only are the CGI elements original, but there is some really fascinating camerawork at play here including extreme close-ups and super inventive, three dimensional camera movement. Plus there’s a surprise breaking of the fourth wall that made my eyes light up whilst kind of also scared the crap out of me too. One of the highlights however – which is again probably down to Raimi and his distinctive imagination – is a fight sequence that involves musical notes. Don’t ask me to explain it though, because I didn’t understand it whatsoever… and it was bloody brilliant.
In terms of plot, this thing is messy as fuck. Perhaps, in part, that is purposeful in order to reflect the non-linear nature of the multiverse, but there is some odd pacing at times and there’s way too much crammed into such a short movie. I rarely say that a film should be longer, but in this case, it’s true. For example, the first 15 minutes felt super rushed, and don’t expect to fully keep up unless you’ve seen WandaVision. I mean, you’ll probably understand it, but there’s so much you’ll miss if you’ve not ventured into the Disney Plus catalogue. (It’s probably a good idea to see What If? too.)
I could go on for ages about Multiverse of Madness because there’s SO MUCH to cover. However, let me conclude (for now) that this is a really good MCU blockbuster. Not my favourite, but really solid. And that mid-credits scene? I genuinely did an internal squeal at that reveal. Buzzing to see what’s next.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is currently screening in most cinemas across the UK.
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