2016 gave us one of Marvel's surprise hits: Doctor Strange! Directed by Scott Derrickson and starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Doctor Strange told the story of how arrogant doctor Stephen Strange humbled himself and became the new Sorcerer Supreme. And now, six years later, director Sam Raimi has taken the reins and given us the sequel, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness! So, what did we think of the new film here at The Holy Goof? Read on and find out!
Doctor Strange never rests! Seriously, between the final two Avengers films, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and now this, Stephen probably hasn't slept in a couple years. Now, the multiverse is in full-blown danger, and from one of the very people who we thought would protect it! It is up to Strange, Wong, and new hero America Chavez to defeat the villain and set the multiverse right. With plenty of action, laughs, and shocks along the way!
Coming in as a minor Doctor Strange fan but a major Sam Raimi (director) fan, I was presently surprised by the original Sam Raimi style presented in this film. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was unlike any other MCU movie and felt a lot like watching a superhero movie in 2000 with modern graphics. Even down to the transitions between scenes.
Sam Raimi always features great musical scores in his films, but this one hit each character and cameo on the head. There is one scene featuring the Illuminati (that we will not spoil here) which features great cameos set to the perfect theme music. Danny Elfman has another winner on his hands.
That single scene is reason enough to rewatch this film over and over when it is released on digital. And I will. At times the 2-hour run time showed; mostly in dialogue scenes. It seemed Sam Raimi didn’t want or need to take part in character development because the characters have already been developed, but that is what's so great about the non-action parts of the MCU. The new young hero, America Chavez (Xochiti Gomez), was very intriguing and I'm excited to see more of the multiverse traveling hero.
Overall I score Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness to be a very high 7/10 because it was amazing, but could've been so much more with a longer run time and better pacing. But even with those issues at hand, this still makes for one of the most rewatchable Marvel movies of all time.
Who is that in the cut scene?
Charlize Theron appears to be portraying Clea (the Sorcerer Supreme of the Dark Dimension) as she and a three-eyed Doctor Strange disappear into a portal to go stop another ‘incursion’. Will there be a third Doctor Strange anytime soon? There were 6 years in between the first two films. I would love to see the third directed by Sam Raimi, and for the full cast to return for some more madness in the multiverse!
Don’t you love it when Marvel gets weird?
Yeah.. Sam Raimi wanted us to know he directed this one from start to finish. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness gives us the MCU with no restraints and the absolute freedom to be…well strange. This is perfectly fitting and necessary for a film that features a time wizard traveling through multiple dimensions whilst fighting a pissed off witch who has accrued powers from the depths of hell.
While I’m sure they made him cut over an hour of god knows what (release the Raimi cut!), the Evil Dead director shot back to his roots in Horror/Thriller while sticking to the general Action/Adventure theme of ‘defeat the bad guy, save the world ‘Marvel-ness that we’re used to. Much like Taika Waititi’s, Thor: Ragnarok, Multiverse of Madness diverts from the copy/paste method that can be easily done within this genre, with all of its spectacular and ready-made characters. He experiments artistically, turning the style on its head; this can be alarming to the meat and potatoes, ‘feed me action’, Captain America Marvel-fan, but it’s super refreshing to me - who is admittedly in it for a ratio of bizarre dominating over ‘stick to the script’.
This movie is all about its moments. The plot is mediocre and the modus operandi of its antagonist is a bit underwhelming (in my opinion), BUT the moments of artistic merrymaking sprinkled throughout grab you hard enough to shake your attention away from any doubts you may have about the actual story. Why do I care about the character development of America Chavez (super random) when Doctor Strange is fighting with fucking music notes!?!?
This one ranks pretty high on my list of Marvel films, mostly because its rewatch value is through the roof and there’s little pockets of visual candy that I know I didn’t catch during the first watch. Doctor Strange is just one of those characters you can have fun with as a director and Raimi seized the opportunity. It’s definitely better than the first. I can't recall a single scene from that movie. Mads Mikkelsen was in that? Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness gets a 9/10 from me!
I'll start this review by stating right off the bat that Sam Raimi is my favorite filmmaker of all time. So this might skew a little higher than normal due to that, but I will keep this as short and objective as I can. So here we go!
Let's start with the bad, shall we? The script is the biggest issue here. The film speeds past, meaning we don't have a whole lot of time for our characters to react emotionally to their circumstances. Elizabeth Olsen's Wanda takes quite a dramatic turn to the dark side, which might confuse viewers who thought she ended WandaVision in a good place. But it seems that she has gone down a dark path in-between that show and this film. This may seem like a bit of a leap to some audience members. Cumberbatch's Strange doesn't so a whole lot of growing here, but he does have a subtle arc which I will discuss later. The breakout character here is Xochitl Gomez' America Chavez, who steals the show. She has a good attitude and energy that mixes well with our already established characters. Her arc probably should have been stronger as well, but we're still given some solid growth.
Also, fans have this terrible habit of setting their expectations far too high. Wildly high in fact. Those expecting insane multiverse doppelgängers like Tom Cruise's Superior Iron Man, or full-blown crossovers with Marvel's What If...? may come out of the theater disappointed. Just keep your expectations in check and let the film be what it is. You'll enjoy it more that way.
Raimi usually co-writes his scripts. That way he is able to weave emotions throughout the story. And more often than not, he does this very well. All three of his Spider-Man films have very well rounded thematic stories about responsibility (1), knowing your place in the world (2), and forgiveness (3). This film does have a subtle thematic arc for Stephen Strange (facing his fears about love), but it does not reach the heights of Raimi's former films. But Sam was brought in to take the reins after Scott Derrickson (director of the first Doctor Strange) stepped away. Raimi had little to no control over the script; he was simply hired to infuse the film with his particular style and energy. He gave us the best version of this script possible. But I fully believe that if Sam is given more creative freedom on the sequel (like James Gunn or Taika Waititi) he will deliver the MCU's equivalent to his Spider-Man 2.
Because the directing is where this film's strength lies. Raimi imbues this sequel with an energy and a style that is rarely felt in the MCU. He came out of the gate swinging! Multiverse of Madness makes great use of Raimi's horror talents. It is most certainly the darkest and most violent film in the MCU. There are scenes here that will shock you. Scenes that no other filmmaker could have handled properly other than Raimi. Be prepared. The film starts off with a bang and does not slow down, even for a second. And while that is a detriment at times (as I said, script issues), you hardly notice it when in the middle of the film simply because it is so damn fun. Raimi brings his cornball sense of humor to the MCU and personally, I think it fits perfectly. Bruce Campbell (a Raimi mainstay) is hilarious in his cameo.
Bottom line, the first film has a better story, but the sequel is far more colorful and exciting; making it the more entertaining of the two. Raimi has energy to spare, and has given us one of the MCU's most entertaining films, even if it's not Marvel's best overall. Based on craft alone, I would give this a 7/10. But my love for Raimi, his sense of humor, his style and energy, and the fact that this is one of the most entertaining films in the MCU catalogue, compels me to give it a slightly higher final rating.
Here at The Holy Goof, we are clearly big fans of Sam Raimi. I mean, with his Evil Dead trilogy, Spider-Man trilogy, and all the other fantastic films in his filmography, how can we not?!
This isn't Sam's best film. And there are better Marvel films out there. But even with its script problems, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness still proves to be one of the most purely entertaining films in the MCU. It has an energy and a fun factor that most of the other films cannot compare to. And that is strickly due to Sam Raimi's childish energy and campy tone. Give this film a chance and enjoy the ride. We can only hope that in the future, Sam gets more creative control on his next MCU film. Then we would be looking at a masterpiece!
GOOF'S GROUP RATING: 8/10