Star rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Madness is truly the best word to illustrate the new Marvel flick Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness – as Sam Raimi turns the superhero movie into an incredible horror spectacle.
Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) has always been more of a visitor and a guide for other heroes’ adventures.
Thanks to her abilities, we get more than a glimpse of the long-promised multiverse and different versions of reality.
Alternate universes supply Marvel with the opportunity to engage in comics references to excite their die-hard audience and to bring back many characters like Benedict Wong’s Wong, Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), and the most anticipated one: Wanda Maximoff (Elisabeth Olsen).
Multiple characters and multiple points of view overshadow that this is in fact a Doctor Strange movie as it feels more like a sequel to the Disney + original series WandaVision (2021) than to the original Doctor Strange (2016).
Stephen Strange is as egotistical and pompous in all universes, suffering from a God complex everywhere.
His foolish conviction that the dark paths that corrupted others won’t taint him hinders him from becoming an admired, relatable hero, rather than a feature in other people’s stories.
Benedict Cumberbatch still delivers an exceptional performance, proving he truly is one of the best in the industry.
But Elisabeth Olsen as Wanda and her villainous alter ego Scarlet Witch outshines everyone else in the already top-notch cast.
Her portrayal of wrath, guilt, and, above all, grief, is even more remarkable and chilling than in the WandaVision miniseries.
The darker, gloomy themes of the movie are further enhanced by Sam Raimi’s genial filmmaking.
As in the case of Thor Ragnarok, and the movie’s director Taika Waititi, the new Doctor Strange benefits from its director’s authentic style.
In his hands, Multiverse of Madness turns from your typical superhero action movie to an extraordinary, spooky journey.
The depiction of the multiverse as such is not entirely original, compared to the animated Spider-Verse (2018), but Raimi’s cinematic expertise presents incredibly creative visuals.
Besides scare jumps, POV shots, eye contact with the audience, explicit violence, blood baths, and other terrifying scenes full of horror, the movie offers an original, chilling depiction of magic.
There is a clear distinction between the powers of Doctor Strange and Scarlet Witch, perfectly exhibiting the spectacular variety of powerful characters that Marvel offers.
The already mind-blowing visuals are further boosted by Danny Elfman’s score.
During one particularly memorable fight scene, musical notes are animated to life and used as a weapon, composing a visual and musical bliss.
The magic, madness, and parallel worlds allow it all and Raimi does not miss.
But, stripped from his wizardry, the movie is just another puzzle piece in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Like in the case of No Way Home, Doctor Strange: In the Multiverse of Madness would be best enjoyed by die-hard fans who know all Marvel puzzle pieces.
Even with biblical knowledge of the cinematic universe, without a general understanding of the comics’ powerhouse and their hundreds of characters that are yet to be brought to the big screen, it might be hard to understand and relish all Easter eggs.
And there are many moments that have fans giggling and swooning.
This is further proven by the studio’s secrecy and the anti-piracy teams’ ever-presence at the cinemas – so do not even think about snapping a picture of the legendary beginning MARVEL credit scenes or you might get kicked out.
Overall, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness feels more like a delicious appetizer for what’s to come than as a standalone Marvel movie.
But, if this is the way the Marvel Cinematic Universe is going to proceed, fans have a lot to look forward to.
Doctor Strange: in the Multiverse of Madness is in cinemas right now.