Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Review: A Stellar MCU Entry

When was the last time you saw madness? The Master of the Mystic Arts returns for more multiversal meddlings in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, a superhero film that sees the acclaimed Sam Raimi return to the genre for the first time in 15 years. After Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) accidentally opened up a portal to the multiverse in Spider-Man: No Way Home, he must keep a young girl, America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez), safe from the threats that face her across the universes. This movie is a cinematic powerhouse that pulls no punches, doing everything to create a superhero experience unlike any other.

We are living in a golden era of superhero cinema. In the past few months, we’ve seen Spider-Man worlds collide, the thrills of The Batman, and we’ve gotten to see Jared Leto transform into a vampire for some ungodly reason. While Marvel easily could have reached its peak with Avengers: Endgame, Kevin Feige has proven to have more than a few tricks up his sleeve to keep audiences glued to their seats. Like most Marvel films, this is a movie where you can’t look away once it begins as the opening scene blasts us right into the multiverse.

Right from the getgo, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is visually incredible. The original Doctor Strange was an excuse for Marvel to show their impressive visual effects. With a hero that can travel across different dimensions and a director known for his superb visual style, Raimi and Strange are a match made in heaven. The powers of the Sorcerer Supreme become the powers of the Hollywood director as we have material tailor-made for Raimi’s skill set as a director of superhero movies, horror movies, or in this case, the in-between.

A PG-13 rating could not hold Raimi back from getting into his horror roots with some incredible horror scenes. While the superhero spectacle outweighs the fright fest, and this is by no means a horror film, Raimi plays around with sequences that have the supernatural thrills of The Ring and the unstoppable kills of The Terminator. This is the theatrical Marvel Cinematic Universe at its goriest, pushing the boundaries of a PG-13 rating with some brutal moments designed for older audiences. Fortunately, this movie works less towards broad appeal and instead aims to give audiences an incredible time.

And what an incredible time this movie is with sheer brilliance from Raimi. Since 2013’s Oz the Great and Powerful, he has not made a new film, and his style has been sorely missed. With an earth-shattering return, he throws everything he can at the screen, from dizzying camera spins and movements to vibrant color grading to an expanded world with more sorcerers and more spectacular sights. His shot design continues to impress, and he owns every moment of the film, infusing jump scares, kills, and eyeball shots into the MCU.

Writer Michael Waldron, who previously worked on Loki, does excellent with the characters. The film starts with Doctor Strange’s personal life and his relationship with Christine, exploring how things have changed between them since the first film’s events. It’s always wonderful when a mighty hero like him gets grounded in raw emotions. Marvel has always succeeded at making their heroes human first and superheroes second. This comes back into play with excellent moments with Doctor Strange throughout the film.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Review

The film also brings back Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch following the events of her miniseries, WandaVision. The events of that show inform her goal in this film as Doctor Strange enlists her help navigating the multiverse. Despite Wanda’s antagonistic behaviors, she remains a sympathetic person throughout. At their core, Doctor Strange and Scarlet Witch are two people unable to be with the people they love as they travel a multiverse where anything is possible. My only wish is that the film explored the ideas and characters more, as all of the essential ingredients are there, but the movie could have benefitted from prolonging its character moments.

It’s fascinating how not only are these two heroes similar in their motivations, but they are also two of the most powerful people in the MCU. Seeing their strength on display is something to behold, as the movie makes full use of their abilities and shows how immense power can be used for the wrong reasons. With an inherently fascinating concept surrounding alternate universes, this movie has something for nearly everyone who watches it.

While the film, unfortunately, avoids becoming a fully-fledged horror film, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness redefines the globetrotting adventure by jumping from globe to globe in an action-packed thrill ride. This movie is a visual feast for the eyes, whereas the story continues, the choices decrease and the stakes increase. The film offers a few surprise appearances from characters new and old, but this movie is not a cameo fest. Instead, this is a non-stop, kick-ass roller coaster of a superhero movie with Olsen giving her best MCU performance yet. It may not be the best superhero film or the best multiverse film of the year, but it has at least one scene so crowd-pleasing that I audibly screamed; madness, indeed.

SCORE: 9/10

As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 9 equates to “Excellent.” Entertainment that reaches this level is at the top of its type. The gold standard that every creator aims to reach.

Disclosure: Critic attended a press screening for our Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness review.