Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022) – Film Review

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness – Film Review

Director: Sam Raimi
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Xochitl Gomez, Elizabeth Olsen
Certificate: 12

By @Roger Crow

Twenty years ago Sam Raimi made the first proper Spider-Man film. Not a TV movie given a cinematic release like the Nicholas Hammond era, but the real deal. And as good as that was, it was the sequel which really raised the Spidey bar to stratospheric levels. Also helmed by Raimi, it was a perfect mix of comedy, drama, and mad scientist adventure.

After his disastrous third Spidey movie, and too long a gap, the helmer is now back in the Marvel universe with one of his most Sam Raimi films ever.

From the first few seconds it’s a dazzling effects fest which sees the eponymous sorcerer running through a mesmerising world of pixel-perfect detritus. If it’s not spinning it’s exploding, like so much of the movie. It’s like Marvel bosses were terrified of viewers getting bored for a nanosecond. This is a superhero movie for the TikTok generation. “Please like. Please”.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness – Film Review benedict

“Shifting cityscapes”

Okay Marvel Studios, you thirsty movie folks, I do like.

The first film in this series was a fun, mystical origins story which exploited Inception-style effects of shifting cityscapes and mind-altering multi-dimensional stuff. And there was also one emotional scene where a key character prolonged their final seconds to moving effect. None of that here sadly.

There is a Deadpool 2/Logan-style kid (America Chavez played by the wonderfully named Xochitl Gomez) with special powers who our hero has to protect, and continuing the rather good WandaVision series, a chance for Elizabeth Olsen to remind us why she’s so compelling.

Benedict Wong, light years away from his days as playing Sean Locke’s comedy stooge in 15 Storeys High, returns as Strange’s comedy stooge, also called Wong. But he also has dramatic heft as he organises troops into a defensive position during a key battle. (That Wong spin-off series is surely just a matter of time).

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness – Film Review movie


Rachel McAdams, who must have something in her contract about acting opposite Sherlock Holmes actors, is splendid as ever as the love interest who sort of got away.

And then there’s Benedict Cumberbatch, who brilliantly carries the whole movie on his shoulders as the charismatic magic man. Stephen Strange was never this interesting in the comics, and good to see a hint of the comic saga Marvel Zombies about that third act.

Like the opening octopus scene paying homage to that glorious Dr Octopus battle in Spider-Man 2, Raimi is clearly having a lot of fun with the tentpole budget, and naturally re-teams with old mate Bruce Campbell for a silly bit of Three Stooges-style slapstick, which also pays off at the very last second. Look out too for Raimi’s yellow car in a cameo; that vehicle has appeared in just about every one of his movies since the Evil Dead days.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness – Film Review float


It’s also good to hear Danny Elfman back on form with the score. Okay, it’s not on a par with Batman (1989), few scores are, but he’s still one of the most interesting composers out there, and this movie is definitely ‘out there’.

Chances are the glorified cameos will already be common knowledge, but there’s still a frisson of joy to be had by the sight of these alternate universe heroes.

It’s a dazzling adventure with the odd jump scare, which is best seen at Halloween. Oh, and that mid-credits tease with a rather famous actress hints at what is to come. Hopefully Raimi will also be on board for that as well because he’s a natural fit in the Doctor Strange world.

Given the fact this took almost $1billion at the box office, there’s little chance of that third movie not happening.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is in cinemas now

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