Review of 'Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness'

doctor_strange_multiverse_of_madness.jpg An amazing looking superhero flick featuring the intriguing Dr Strange (the always compelling Benedict Cumberbatch) following on from his first solo big-screen outing in 2016's somewhat disappointing Doctor Strange. Strange has, of course, popped up in many films since then including last year's Spider-Man film No Way Home where one of his spells go a bit awry. In “Multiverse of Madness” he continues to be not quite the perfect warlock as he takes on a mighty foe…

When attending the wedding of Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams), Strange saves the city when it is attacked by a huge octopus-like creature who appears to be after a young woman, America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez). Chavez has the ability to travel between universes though has difficulty controlling her talent. Strange visits Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) but soon realizes that she has acquired the Darkhold and has become the Scarlet Witch. She seeks Chavez's power to allow her to travel to a universe where her mirror lives a domestic life with two young boys. Strange is determined to protect Chavez from the Scarlett Witch but after an attack on Kamar-Taj (headquarters of the “Masters of the Mystic Arts”, the group that often works closely with Strange) Chavez's power takes them to an alternative earth where they seek out the Dr. Strange that inhabits it for his help but little do they know the Scarlet Witch has used the Darkhold to “dream walk” to the same world…

Firstly, let me say that this film looks great! But, and there is always a but, it is a shame the story does not really match. There are some fantastic looking set pieces but really, the premise is just so flimsy it is hard to take it all that seriously (if, indeed, we were want to do so) – Honestly, destroying the world to join two kids seen only in a dream? Is this what the Marvel Universe has come to? Gone are the desires to destroy and conquer the universe now the baddies want nothing less than to have kids and live a life of domesticity? There are a whole bunch of incredible bits of mystical power thrown about here but ultimately it all comes down to sitting in front of the TV with two young ones and taking in a showing of Bambi (if you watch, all of the TVs in the film all show Disney films – odd that given who owns Marvel!). Don't get me wrong, I see the appeal, no doubt, but it seems a bit, well, boring as the main goal of a supervillain? Or maybe it is just me?

I do really enjoy watching Cumberbatch in whatever he is in and here is no real exception though I have to say he really only starts to come into his own, wise quipping, self about half way through the film. As you might expect, there are a few nice cameos including a short one by the original Dr X himself, Patrick Stewart (thankfully X-Men are back in the Marvel film fold). It is also great to see Benedict Wong returning as Strange's long suffering friend Wong from Kamar-Taj and the delightful Chiwetel Ejiofor returning as the duplicitous Baron Mordo.

As with all Marvel films there are bits to wait for in the end credits with an short scene a few minutes into the credit crawl and a funny final sequence at the very, very end that picks up on an amusing altercation between Dr Strange and a street vendor in the alternate earth.

So great superhero action for a somewhat absurdist premise and, despite what you might think from the title and trailer, it is not that difficult to follow what is going on as the filmmaker's take what could have been a complete mind-melt and make it somewhat easier to consume “multi-verse light” where all you really need to worry about is what colour the lights need to be before you cross the street.

Rating: “Really good but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2022-05-14

Directed by: Sam Raimi

Studio: Marvel Studios

Year: 2022

Length: 126 minutes

Genre: Action/Adventure

Other reviewed films by Sam Raimi: