Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness
"It might not leave you spellbound but you're likely to be charmed." | Photo: Marvel Studios 2022. All rights reserved

One of the more winning things about Doctor Strange is that, sentient cloak and magic abilities aside, he always seems like the sort of bloke you could go down the pub and have a laugh with. I mean, sure, the surgeon-turned-sorcerer is a bit on the broody side when it comes to what went wrong with his relationship with Dr Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams) - who's heading up the aisle in the film's opening moments - but he's comparatively well-adjusted for a superhero when you consider the likes of Bruce Wayne.

This is also a lot to do with Benedict Cumberbatch's performance. He plays him with an affable air, while just letting something more wounded sparkle like one of the good doctor's spells underneath. Strange's considerations of whether he is "happy" are soon put into perspective, however, when a girl of his dreams - well, one of his nightmares at any rate - shows up unexpectedly in the street being chased by a very angry outsized octopus. She is America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez, bringing the same sort of winning girl next door energy Zendaya does to the Spidey films) and she's just slipped in from another part of the multiverse.

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Leaping to her aid in a flurry of CGI, Strange is soon offering to take care of America - interesting name metaphor there - and heading off to ask former Avenger Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) if she can help out on the witch front. Things do not, of course, go to plan, since Wanda has wandered somewhere quite dark in her yearning for motherhood (the two boys she dreams about, incidentally, are disturbingly Disney Central Casting) - and the stage is set for magic, mayhem and a whole lot of various incarnations of the present.

As is often the case with multiverses, things have a tendency to get overly complicated quite quickly and the film - lent some occasional welcome flourishes of darkness by Sam Raimi - gets torn between following America and Strange as they find themselves thrust through various multiverses and Wanda's less than good witching in the 'real world'. The action is at its best when it doesn't take itself too seriously, such as when America and Strange are thrust through various worlds - in one they briefly pass through, for example, they become like Jackson Pollock paint splashes, in another, they're cartoons. There's a lovely 'down the rabbit hole' feel to all this and the technique of 'spinning' the action so that the frame itself feels off-kilter, is particularly enjoyable if you can get to see it an an IMAX.

There's also an interesting environmental idea embedded, as we see one world where all the buildings of New York have become like Milan's vertical forest, while the streets are filled with blossoming trees, while another, has suffered an 'incursion' - a kind of a multiverse pile-up - causing a sort of environmental apocalypse.

There is, almost inevitably given the current cinematic trends, a whole load of fan service going on and I'm not sure that beyond the potential joy of going, "Ooh, it's X,Y or Z in a cameo!", these things have much to add except, at best, bloating the running time and, at worst, distracting from the much more enjoyable plotting elsewhere.

Solid support is provided by regular Benedict Wong and McAdams, and composer Danny Elfman gets to have a lot of fun with one particular magic battle even though feels much more like something cut from the Disney universe than the Marvel one. It might not leave you spellbound but you're likely to be charmed.

Reviewed on: 04 May 2022
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Dr Strange tries to protect a girl who can jump between points in the multiverse.
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Read more Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness reviews:

Andrew Robertson ***1/2

Director: Sam Raimi

Writer: Michael Waldron, Stan Lee, Steve Ditko

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, Xochitl Gomez, Michael Stuhlbarg, Rachel McAdams, Bruce Campbell, Julian Hilliard, Jett Klyne, Keenan Moore, Patrick Stewart, Soo Cole

Year: 2022

Runtime: 126 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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