When a new superhero named America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) falls into the Marvel universe we know. Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Wong (Benedict Wong) must protect her from a threat who is trying to take her powers.
Firstly, the biggest strength of this film is the director behind it. Sam Raimi, who directed the Tobey Maguire led Spider-Man films along with The Evil Dead trilogy. In a way, Multiverse of Madness is a horror film, which to me, just feels cool. The film has some definite horror elements that hark back to The Evil Dead trilogy. There are also some gnarly kills that are actually gory for a Marvel film. Raimi’s stamp is all over this and I am here for it.
Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) is the standout of the film for sure. I would say that her character is akin to Freddy Krueger here. She is the villain of the film and watching her be unleashed was both satisfying and a bit terrifying. However, if you have not seen WandaVision, this character turn may not make much sense to you, but she’s still so fun to watch.
Benedict Cumberbatch is solid here. I don’t think he has ever given a bad performance. He delivers as Strange again, but this does not actually feel like his film, it feels more like Wanda’s. He did have some good chemistry with another version of Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams) and gets to do cool things, but ultimately his character is pretty much the same. The new character, America Chavez, is a bit disappointing. Despite being a Latina superhero, she just does not do very much and needs to be rescued too much.
Next, let’s tackle some problems I had with the film. Firstly, this film is very fast-paced. The first act especially just delves straight into the plot, not giving the audience time to breathe or gather their bearings. It is jarring, and thus, it takes a while to settle into the film. It rushes into the story and misses some necessary set-up.
Also, there is a scene containing some cameos that honestly felt wasted. They were simply there to be fan service, which is the worst kind of fan service. I would rather just do without this scene and Marvel’s reliance on cameos is getting quite tiring. These cameos were in an attempt to expand the Marvel universe even larger, but I think this new universe is already getting to be too much.
Also, the multiverse itself here is kind of lame. The film is called Multiverse of Madness but I found the mulitverse to be much crazier and engaging in Everything, Everywhere, All At Once. The mulitverse in the Marvel Disney+ show Loki was even more compelling than it was here.
Some more minor nitpicks are there’s some very noticeable green screen, especially in the first act. After seeing Dune and The Batman, those background effects are even more glaring to me. I also wasn’t a fan of the score here. But on the plus side, there is not any of that ugly gray color grading seen in the previous Marvel films, most notably in the Avengers: Endgame final battle sequence.
Overall, I had fun with the Multiverse of Madness. It is one of those rare Marvel movies that feel like it has an actual human being directing it. Sam Raimi elevates this film with his style by adding some refreshing horror elements into it. Not to mention, Elizabeth Olsen gives a powerhouse performance here. However, there are some pacing and script issues. Namely, the film is too fast-paced and tries to tackle too much by expanding the Marvel universe once again.
I give Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness a B.