“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is a 2022 superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. It is the sequel to 2016’s “Doctor Strange,” and the 28th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The film was directed by Sam Raimi, written by Michael Waldron, and stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange with Elizabeth Olsen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, Xochitl Gomez, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Rachel McAdams. In the film, Strange protects America Chavez (Gomez), a teenager capable of traveling the multiverse, from someone who wants to take her power for their own.
In short, this film has a lot of great things. There is a lot to unpack but the film is highlighted through Raimi’s direction. He takes the film in a way that the MCU has not done before. Raimi adds in a lot of horror aspects that not only take from his experience with the genre but also many others such as “The Exorcist.” The performances from the main cast were also great. Cumberbatch is effortless as all of the Stranges and does very well to differentiate them. He is reported to be this phase’s Iron Man/Captain America so this film is a good start to that. Gomez as America Chavez is a good addition to the franchise and she does really well even when she is surrounded by accomplished actors. However, the absolute standout in the film is Olsen as Wanda/Scarlet Witch and frankly is a scene-stealer. She steps up her game from WandaVision and portrays her trauma so sympathetically that the arc is the best one in the film. If one watches this film for her, they won’t be disappointed.
However, that is the biggest flaw with this film. It honestly feels more of a story for Wanda and not Strange. He does have a small arc in the film but it feels secondary to hers. The film has Strange dealing with his choice in Infinity War to give Thanos the time stone and thinking about his own happiness. In this way, the film is attempting to align his choice with Wanda’s journey of ‘how far is too far to get what you want.” While not badly executed, it needed more time to develop that arc.
The film also has Chavez trying to balance her fear and guilt while figuring out her powers. The writing does bring these thoughts to the surface but that’s really it. If there were one or two more scenes going into these ideas, it would have been a lot better. Wanda’s story is strong but the hero of this film is Dr. Strange. With her story being strong, it weakens his own personal evolution and arc. There were also somewhat pointless characters in the story such as Mordo and Raimi did give a lot of screen time to easter egg characters that really have no point in this story. There are also a few McGuffins that aren’t’ given that much explanation.
4Dx wise, it was a lot of fun. 4DX can be great for the right movie and it can make the experience more like a theme park ride. The quality/quantity of the 4DX effects varies by film. If the effects are implemented well, it can really make a movie feel 10x more immersive but if not, it can be a gimmick. This film was a lot of fun as there were a lot of aesthetics that went with the film. There were some really cool water and wind effects that show how 4DX works.
However, what really was horrible was the 3D effect of the film. If anyone thought the CGI was bad in some scenes in the normal version, the 3D makes it worse. Most films that are in 3D are not done using 3D cameras and it is more of a drag and drop effect done in post-production and as such, it looks like a popup book. The only time in the film it added anything was when they hopped through universes. Otherwise, it looked horrible as it was not filmed with a 3D camera. However, the digital intermediate was a 4K retention so this should look good when it comes to anyone with a home theatre set up.
This film obviously deals with the concept of variants and the multiverse but there is no way to criticize or comment on it without talking about spoilers. Therefore, you’ll have to listen to the spoiler analysis below for more. Overall though, Dr. Strange 2 does one thing that a lot of the MCU films cannot do. It steps away from the forced humor that has plagued the series as of late.
There are comedic moments but it never takes away from an overall serious moment. The film also has a very strong villain but the story is not a standalone one. One would have to watch a good amount of the prior MCU films to fully get the story. Even so, there is a lot that this film opens up for the heroes and villains and it will be exciting to see how this film will impact the MCU as a whole. The film succeeds with its direction, it’s acting, its themes, and its ending but it struggles with its details such as the writing.
If you want the full spoiler analysis of the film, check out the video below.
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