Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness: Review
I find myself starting each Marvel movie review in the same way. Usually, there's been a lacklustre show out on Disney Plus, maybe even a poor film and then somewhere in there we’ll see a real gem appear. Much like Spider-Man: No Way Home, I think Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness might be the gem you’re looking for, although I’m not so sure whether audiences will be able to click with this film in the same way they did with the former.
For the most part, a large reason the first Doctor Strange film has a great following is down to its psychedelic, cosmic elements of CGI that up until then hadn’t really been touched on in great detail in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Doctor Strange’s second outing embraces the visual aesthetic again and even takes it up a notch allowing for the premise of multiple realities to each bring with them their own distinct visual vibe that promotes a level of cartoonish fun and vibrance.
That’s not to say the visuals are all sun and rainbows with varying portions of the film’s visual tone capturing more dark and horrifying colour palettes of dark blacks, browns and reds. Alongside this, a few people I was talking to about the movie complained about certain elements of the CGI and heavily questioned its quality. I can definitely see where they're coming from and portions of this movie definitely look slightly underdeveloped.
There’s been a level of discourse online about the casting in this MCU outing both positive and negative. I have to say though I thought the cast really held their own and for the most part, any grievances I have relating to their performances generally comes down to the written material they were given. I found Xochitl Gomez’s (Shadow Wolves, Gentefied) performance as America Chavez to be perfectly fine and despite some comments from others I never once felt she tore me out of the film. Accompanying her, Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange), Benedict Wong (Wong) and Elizabeth Olsen (Wanda Maximoff) all provide excellent performances with Olsen’s portrayal of the Scarlett Witch being both terrifying and heartbreaking even for those who haven’t seen WandaVision.
Of course, the big draw to this film for me was its director. While this isn’t Sam Raimi’s best work in my opinion I definitely think the moments where his directive vision is allowed to shine show off some of the best MCU content we’ve seen in quite some time. His mixing of cosmic wonder and horror creates a film full of despair but also hope.
While Raimi is certainly an extremely talented filmmaker I came out of the theatre both enthralled by what I had just watched but also a little confused as to what had actually happened. I’m not sure if this is just my experience but I definitely felt that a good chunk of the story left out key explanations for what was actually going on. Maybe this was down to the film’s reshoots but it definitely sticks out in what is otherwise a thrilling ride.
The MCU is plagued with a consistent and what I believe to be milked formula. I’m not the first person to say that but given this film came out the day after the final episode of Disney Plus’ Moon Knight I went into the film with an already set template of how these shows and films will pan out. If you’re under a great level of superhero fatigue for similar reasons this may not be up your alley but I still found a great level of enjoyment out of the film’s full runtime.
It's no secret from the trailers and from the possibilities, the idea of multiple universes opens up for the MCU that there was going to be a bit of fanservice for fans of previous and pre-MCU properties. I must admit I found myself sitting with a smile on my face for a few of them but overall if this is something that has been annoying you with more recent MCU properties then you might find them insufferable.
To wrap up, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness offers us some fun moments of cosmic superhero adventure and definitely feels the most ‘Sunday morning cartoon’ out of the recent Marvel projects. It's definitely going to have a divided audience, but I went in with little expectation and ended up thoroughly enjoying it. I recommend grabbing some popcorn, not thinking too much about it and allowing your imagination to be taken on a wild journey of action and scares on a cosmic proportion.
If you’d like to discuss Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness with me a little bit more and talk about some spoilers, you can do so over on my Twitter @OdhranJohnson! If you’re interested in indie based games news, reviews and more you can check me and the team at Gaming Sandbox out over on gaming-sandbox.com.
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