This review is spoiler-free.
I love magic in the MCU, it must be the Hufflepuff in me! My love of Doctor Strange as both a character and a film, always puts Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness on a much safer grounding than most MCU movies. Although, it does run the risk of failing my high expectations if they can’t at least deliver what the first movie did. And to be honest, at this point, they need to be building on it and surpassing it! Thankfully, I left the cinema VERY happy indeed and thoroughly loved my time watching this movie.
I think if you have watched the Disney+ shows like WandaVision and What If… then you’ll get a lot more satisfaction from the Multiverse of Madness than those who haven’t, yet it’s not essential that you have had to have seen them, although I think it is highly beneficial if you have.
In terms of shocks and surprises. One was given away cheaply in the trailer, and I think the marketing team got that one horribly wrong. However, that is only scratching at the surface, with one surprise, in particular, getting me to sit upright in my seat, and I even let out an audible gasp! I cannot wait for future events to unfold! Trust me. You’ll know when you get to this scene!
In terms of the cast, Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange) reminds us once more why he is the perfect casting for Strange and he has never had to work so hard in an MCU outing as he does here, but he pulls it off masterfully! The introduction of Xochitl Gomez (America Chavez) to the MCU is a welcome move as she was such a likable character, and you just feel like she has a bright future ahead of her within the world of Doctor Strange and other MCU properties. Rachel McAdams (Christine Palmer) and Benedict Wong (Wong) were also great in their supporting roles and the movie would have suffered from their absence. With all the cast bringing their A-game, one performer, in particular, jumped up to an A++ and that was, of course, Elizabeth Olsen (Wanda Maximoff). Olsen’s performance here was nothing short of awe-inspiring, showing a full range from fragile purity to outright terrifying! It was an emotional and intense performance from start to finish and you’ll struggle to find a better performance in all of the MCU!
With a new film comes a new director at the helm, and I am very happy that Sam Raimi has returned to the superhero world! With many horror elements in this movie, there is no better director to bridge the gap between superheroes and horror! All of those classic Raimi elements were seen throughout the movie, be that the tilted camera work or a familiar face in tow! You just got the sense that Raimi had a lot of fun with this and I’m sure he’ll be a shoo-in for the eventual third movie. As for the script? Overall, it’s very good and I think having Michael Waldron as the scribe, like Raimi, is a nice fit for this movie – given his previous experience working on Rick and Morty and Loki – it just fits that large-scale and multiverse vibe so well. Are there issues with the script? Yes. There are some lines that don’t work and a few pacing and logic issues to sidestep, but overall, it’s very enjoyable.
As much as the story, characters, and crazy visuals are important to this movie, all these elements can come unstuck if you don’t get the music right! When Michael Giacchino was replaced, it felt like a huge blow at the time. But thankfully, Raimi brought Danny Elfman on board, and while, personally, I think he has been a bit hit and miss in recent years, he definitely finds all the right notes here! His score was outstanding and brought so much emotion and scale to the film. This is some of his best work to date!
As for the film’s negatives? I have already mentioned some of the story aspects and a few lines let the film down a little, but they don’t hinder the overall experience. While I genuinely did enjoy this movie and loved what Raimi brought to the table, even how dark and crazy it got at times, I still wanted that little bit more from it. I think if they chopped some parts out and built on other parts you would have a top-tier MCU film on your hands. Instead, it sits just below in the upper mid-tier section – which is not a bad thing, as it is certainly one of the stronger MCU offerings.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a dark and outlandish adventure packed full of stunning visuals, an incredible score, and one of the best character performances you are likely to see in all of the MCU. While there are a few script issues, the surprises within the movie more than makes up for it! So close to perfection…