New from Kevin Wozniak on Kevflix: Movie Review: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

 

There are a lot of arguments out there that Marvel and the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a machine just churning out movies. That their movies are just a product of an assembly line and that they all look and feel the same. There are movies in this 28-movie, four-show cinematic universe, but it isn’t the case for all of them.

My favorite movies in the MCU are the movies that have their own personalities and their own look and feel different from every other MCU movie. The stylistic choices made by Ryan Coogler in Black Panther and Joe Johnston in Captain America: The First Avenger, the look and vibe Taika Waititi injected into Thor: Ragnarok, the snappy dialog and story Shane Black crafted in Iron Man 3, all of these movies, and a few others, don’t feel like they were made in a machine but that they were made by filmmakers with a vision.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, the latest MCU film, is directed by Sam Raimi, the legendary horror director, and the man behind the original Spider-Man trilogy, and this is a full-stop Sam Raimi movie. A chaotic and weird superhero horror movie that looks great and is endlessly entertaining. It is the darkest movie in the MCU and the most violent. It is unlike anything the MCU has made so far, and that’s a good thing.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is the second Doctor Strange movie, but it is not a sequel to the first film. MCU sequels can either be sequels to the hero’s previous film, like Iron Man 2 or Ant-Man and the Wasp, or they can be sequels from the previous MCU film, like how Iron Man 3 followed the events of the first Avengers film or how Spider-Man: Far from Home followed the events of Avengers: Endgame. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is the sequel to everything that has happened in the MCU since Avengers: Endgame. There are mentions of the events of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and WandaVision and the chaos of the multiverse. You don’t need to rewatch all of those to understand what is happening here, but I would maybe give WandaVision a refresh.

Benedict Cumberbatch in DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS
Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Without getting into too much detail that may spoil anything, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness finds Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) attending the wedding of Christine (Rachel McAdams), the woman whom he will always love. When the wedding is disrupted by a giant cycloptic octopus, Strange saves the day and finds that the octopus came from another dimension because of America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez), a young girl from another dimension who can hop the multiverse. Strange then goes on a mission to investigate why someone is hunting America, which takes him on a chaotic journey through the multiverse.

Raimi hasn’t made a movie since 2013’s Oz the Great and Powerful, but he has not lost a step as a director. The film is loaded with Raimi motifs and staples, which gives the film a look and a vibe unlike any movie in the MCU. Raimi made a superhero horror movie. A movie that resembles Drag Me to Hell or Army of Darkness more than it resembles any of his Spider-Man films. It is the most violent and gory MCU movie and even features some jump scares. Parents should be cautious about bringing their children to this one, especially if they are under the age of ten. We also get classic Raimi filmmaking techniques and motifs. Crash zooms, dutch angles, the heavy exposition, zombies, evil spirits, a cursed book, a Danny Elfman score (who scored the first two Raimi Spider-Man films), and Bruce Campbell are all things we have seen in previous Raimi films, and all make an appearance here. He also gives the film a lively, bright look with thrilling set-pieces. Raimi could have easily just taken the Marvel paycheck and made one of those MCU movies that look and feel the same as a lot of the other films. But he didn’t do that, he made a Sam Raimi movie. Sam Raimi didn’t make a Doctor Strange movie, Doctor Strange is a Sam Raimi movie.

The film is more than just visuals and Raimi tricks. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness looks at themes of regret, guilt, and superhero responsibility, themes Raimi dealt with in his Spider-Man trilogy. Doctor Strange is dealing with the guilt of giving Thanos the time stone in Avengers: Infinity War and ultimately causing the snap, even though it was the only option. He is also dealing with the woman that he loves getting married to someone else and learning that, regardless of what dimension he is, he will never be able to be with her. Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) returns here and is haunted by losing Vision and wanting the fantasy life that she imagined in WandaVision and fighting for what she believes will ultimately make her happy. These themes were powerful for me and ultimately tied the whole film together.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is the best MCU movie since Avengers: Endgame. A weird, vibrant, exciting superhero horror film with genuine moments of terror and gore. Raimi is working on all cylinders, and not only do I want to see him continue to work in the MCU but see him behind the camera again, as he proves just how much of a visionary he really is.

 

 

 

 

 

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