One terrific thing about having Sam Raimi back to making comic book films is in how those movies are imbued with his viceral style. His passion for whichever property he’s sculpting will forever bear his mark. That’s especially evident with Spider-Man 2, and in Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness, the use of Dutch angles or some other cinematic trick distinguishes which universe the master of mystic arts is in. Seeing this film through the eyes of the monster is another camera technique he loves using.
This MCU product feels more Evil Dead than anything else and I love it since it may even suggest Marvel’s Zombieverse will return. This film marks the second time the heroes have visited this realm. Marvel’s What If (“…Zombies!?”) introduced fans to this danger.
In what’s presented is thankfully 66% Raimi, and the rest fan service. Anyone who has followed all the films (no matter the studio) since this marvel cinematic craze will be pleased at all the inclusions, references and Easter eggs. There’s a lot to take in visually, and it’s worth seeing again to catch what’s missed.
Sadly, this movie is more of a Scarlet Witch (Elisabeth Olsen) movie then Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch). Wanda is a mother in grief and all she wants is to live in a universe with her children. Although somewhat unusual, she’s okay with the fact Vision is dead. He can’t be resurrected.
Her plight defines much of Doctor’s Strange adventure instead of the assumption most fans had after seeing Spider-Man: No Way Home. It’s about time that we have a trailer that’s slightly misleading to surprise movie goers with.
When Wanda learns there’s a one-of-a-kind mutant, she wants her help, it’s up to the former Sorcerer Supreme to negotiate some kind of accord so both get what they want. America Chavez’s (Xochitl Gomez) ability to physically cross worlds because of her portal making ability is unique. Anyone she’s with can join her with these adventures. Some worlds look familiar and others are not. Not everyone remembers Marvel ran the Epic comics imprint, and I suspect one fleeting moment while universe hopping paid tribute to Hellraiser. That bit alone got me excited about this film, and overall, I wasn’t disappointed.
Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness doesn’t really function as a standalone film. It takes notes from Wandavision and Loki, and goes further with it. The situation is how many times can one dimension stand these incursions? It’s going to draw the attention of some force that lives in that in-between space of various universes, and this thread may get further looked at in the future. One detail I liked is the suggestion that everyone dreamwalks. That is, some people can see into an alternate reality, but they can’t control their actions in this other realm–it’s been a new age theory for a long time and I love this inclusion into the Marvel lore.
What this film suggests is that every past iteration of a Marvel superhero exists. The best telling moment is with a certain tune from a certain 90s cartoon. We get appearances from other heroes. Sadly, these cameos make it hard for me to cheer for since they may be one-offs than affirmations. Most fans know X-Men and The Fantastic Four will get rebooted. I’m more sad than glad that what’s presented is the final hurrah.
The last (sort of) Marvel film was Moebius (movie review can be read here), which was a poor attempt at making a vampire movie. The appearance of Vulture suggests he and the bat will one day threaten Earth 616, where all the films take place. As for whether the Spider-verse will be affected, that depends on the studios agreeing to present to us more of this madness going on. When considering the reveal with the mid-credits scene, what started with opening the multiverse up in the previous Spider-Man film is hardly over.
4 Stars out of 5
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