A multiverse of humanity
May 7th, 2023
Doctor Strange is a complicated entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While it had a unique style, the character lacked humanity once he got his powers, unlike his comic book counterpart. It wasn’t until Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: No Way Home that he became humbler. This sequel adds more of that human element when Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) enlists the isolated Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) to help with circumstances concerning the multiverse.
This marks Sam Raimi’s first directorial vision in nearly a decade, according to Matt McMuscles’s What Happened video on Spider-Man 3: “I didn’t know if I could face it again because it was so awful, having been the director of Spider-Man 3,” Raimi said. “I didn’t think I would ever be doing another superhero movie. It just happened.”
Despite being out of the spotlight, he hasn’t lost his touch. Without going into spoilers, many will be disappointed that this is more of A Simple Plan than Evil Dead with its PG-13 rating. But given how the story and characters test each other’s desires; it works in choosing substance over style, which thankfully this still has. Cumberbatch’s American accent is at its peak as the rest of the cast pulls together in this interdimensional road trip. When it indulges in horror, it doesn’t hold back. Some of it borders on softcore R rated territory. There’s more to Raimi’s style than horror as he knows how to convey relatable dilemmas in the real world and in comic book settings. That’s including the Dutch angles, roller coaster camera movements, seamless transitions, and creative visual effects which makes this one of the better auteur Marvel films. The effects don’t always look realistic, but they fit the comic book style of Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby. That, and they age better than the 2002’s Spider-Man. Not to mention Danny Elfman’s somber score that heightens the tension and pulls at the violin strings when epiphanies are uncovered. The villain is also incredibly layered on the level of Captain America: Civil War. Their arc is a repeat from a previous storyline, but it pays-off with battle sequences and an affectionate resolution that justifies the revisit. But with all this comes some drawbacks.
Some of the multiverse logic set up in Loki scrambles to make sense as Marvel continues into this uncharted territory. Many solutions to a problem are cast aside for the sake of drama, even if it’s effective in the execution. There’s too much exposition that drags the pacing when it already has to balance so much as a sequel to both movies and Disney Plus shows. When Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings hit said platform, a Marvel One-Shot short was added with backstory on a character. This should’ve taken a similar approach with a sidelined character seeing as one already has to watch both Wandavision and What If…? to keep up with the story.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a Marvel movie directed by Sam Raimi rather than a Sam Raimi Marvel movie, but that’s not a bad thing. There’s not as much horror as advertised, but it makes up for it by injecting more humanity into the character compared to the first outing. When the horror imagery does show up, it feels right at home. The effects are otherworldly, the characters go through tough arcs, the music fits every occasion, and the story has the character go through a change that was absent in the first movie. Some of the imagery might be too scary for younger viewers accustomed to the family friendly comedy of this universe and it has moments of flashing sequences that will affect photosensitive viewers. But if filmmakers and were complaining that Marvel movies are all the same, this will give them something to shake their anatomy. If you like Sam Raimi films, see this in theaters if only to catch his first film in over a decade. And if you’re curious about spoilers, return next week for our take on the.
Pros: Sam Raimi direction, emotional conflict, refreshing humanity, creative action, dedicated cast,
Cons: unfocused multiverse logic, aimless humor, sidelined character
What did you think of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness? What’s your favorite Sam Raimi movie? Whatever your thoughts are, comment and discuss with others!
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