Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)
Directed by Sam Raimi
Written by Michael Waldron
Produced by Mitchell Bell, Richie Palmer
Rated PG-13, 2h 6m
Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was, for many people, the most anticipated film of the MCU’s phase four. Not only is it the sequel to the original Doctor Strange, it’s also Sam Raimi’s (Evil Dead, Spider-Man) long-awaited return to the superhero genre, to say nothing of the hype generated by the rumors of the film being a crossover between the MCU and older superhero projects. Does it live up to the hype?
The film is, at its heart, a Sam Raimi film, with all the cheesy, over-the-top horror goodness that that entails. Several scenes in this film feel like they’re straight out of Evil Dead, both because of the unique camera work that Sam Raimi is known for, and because of the abundance of horror elements tossed into the film, like the scene where Wanda is in her kitchen and thinks she hears “someone” in her house. Not to mention the fact that this is probably the most violent MCU film; the number of violent, gruesome murders in Multiverse of Madness is quite high. A lot of people were questioning how this movie was PG-13. The film also feels more like an actual comic book than most other comic book films. Not because it slapped giant “boom” or “pow” word balloons on the screen, but because it follows the structure of modern comic book storytelling, somewhat similar to how The Batman chose to tell its story.
The music was also very good, utilizing remixes of classic Marvel tunes you might recognize, as well as original scores. The cameos, whilst not as abundant as some have speculated, felt natural and suited the story well. This film was not just a random assortment of “look, it’s a character that you recognize” moments, which is good. The film stood on its own two feet and told the story it wanted to tell. Like most other Marvel films, the movie has both good CGI and good comedy, as well as strong characters and a tight story. Without spoiling anything, it felt like a natural continuation of both WandaVision and the original Doctor Strange.
Being explicitly a Sam Raimi film isn’t always a good thing. There are a few lines in the film that don’t sound natural. They sound like Raimi was trying too hard to emulate classic comic book dialogue, which can take you out of the film. There are also some parts of the film that are “unique simply for the sake of being unique.” One fight scene in particular embodies this, going in a strange direction for seemingly no reason other than to be weird. The reshoots are also noticeable at certain points in movie. For instance, Wong’s hair is almost completely different going from one scene to the next, even though they’re supposed to only take place a few minutes apart. There’s a part where Dr. Strange locks a street vendor into three weeks of constant torment and anguish over him asking for payment for his pizza balls a bit too aggressively, which felt out of character for Dr. Strange. These flaws take away from what is a brave, stunning film, even if they’re somewhat minor.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is the best Phase Four MCU film. Seeing Sam Raimi return to the director’s chair of a big superhero film is a welcome sight, and hopefully, this won’t be his last comic book endeavor.