An MCU multiverse trip that’s frightening, funny, and fearless.
Time progresses as you learn to acknowledge the mythical world of “Doctor Strange.” You learn to get used to the convoluted sorcerer dialogue and tricks. You learn to adapt to Stephen Strange and how he was able to blind his hand’s pain. And you have fun watching these sorcerers knock people out of their physical forms. Now, we have “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” or as I would like to call it: “Doctor Strangelove (or How I Learned to Stop Thinking and Love the Sorcerer).”
They weren’t kidding when they said it would be a horror film. They weren’t kidding when there would be more challenges. And this time, the director is Sam Raimi, who is able to merge his genres without them overlapping one another. He made the “Spider-Man” trilogy with Tobey Maguire, and the “Evil Dead” franchise, and so forth. As a multiverse film, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” begs comparison to another multiverse film-the Indie hit “Everything Everywhere All At Once.” It’s not as amazing as that masterpiece, but it will give you a number of unbelievable moments. See that before you see this.
Once again (after “Spider-Man: No Way Home”), Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange has to deal with the multiverse being in danger. The fate of it rests in his hands. But this time, he has to protect a young girl named America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez), who has traveled from another universe, from the clutches of Scarlett Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), who has completely lost her mind. Other supporting characters who have to be involved in this adventure are Strange’s companion Wong (Benedict Wong), his now enemy Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), and his ex-lover Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams).
Being that it’s partly a horror picture, I wonder how little kids are going to react to it. I was in a row next to a little girl and her father, and I didn’t want to ask how she felt about it, because I hate that “She’s not your daughter” crap. I know MCU has a lot of fans, young and old. They’re definitely going to enjoy the surprise cameos (Patrick Stewart’s was partly spoiled in the trailer), gags, and action sequences, but at the same time, I think parts of it are a little too intense for the little tykes. two examples would be Scarlett Witch murdering some heroes (I can’t say who), and even limping like Jack Nicholson in “The Shining.”
Fans are going to enjoy its references to “What If” and “WandaVision,” which are both MCU shows on Disney+, and they’re going to be challenged by its threats and complications along the way. You’re also going to be left in a tizzy by its story and outcomes like I was, but you’ll come around, and so did I. Raimi figures out how to try to keep all genres in balance, reflecting on his own previous films without those obligatory Easter eggs, even if Bruce Campbell comes in for a tickle or two.
Among the actors I’ve enjoyed, Cumberbatch manages to trap Doctor Strange inside the terror, levity, and hindsights, Olsen pushes Scarlett Witch into the darkness and guilts, and Gomez makes an impressive blockbuster debut by forgetting those movie girl cliches, and adapting to her surroundings. I caught this film at a screening last night, and when we got to see the cameos in the multiverse, the audience was applauding, and so was I.
“Everything Everywhere All At Once” it’s not, but “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” knows when to be scary, when to be funny, when to be serious, and when to be entertaining. But this time, it’s not for little Marvel fans. Let them see “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” and leave this next outing for the older kids, teens, and adults.