A wild kaleidoscopic ride through the multiverse
Review: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
The Multiverse of Madness is a great name for this crazy, weird, kaleidoscopic, multiverse-hopping sequel to Doctor Strange’s first outing back in 2016.
When we last saw Doctor Strange, he was fighting to get the imploding multiverse under control after a spell performed at Peter Parker’s (Tom Holland) behest to make everyone forget his identity as Spiderman, went horribly wrong in Spider-Man: No Way Home, which opened up their world to visitors from other realities, including a couple of familiar older Spider-Men (Tobey McGuire and Andrew Garfield).
Wanda Maximoff meanwhile, is still reeling from the events of WandaVision (Disney +) where she held an entire town captive to live out a fantasy family life. After going to the ground, Dr Strange comes looking for her to enlist her help with someone who has literally dropped from another universe – America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) – after being pursued by a mystical being.
As is the nature of the multiverse, much exposition is sandwiched between the big reveals, cameos and new teams to assist across the multiple universes on display. By opening up the MCU to the multiverse, it seems Kevin Feige and co have literally opened a can of worms that reveals often that nothing is off the table.
With both small screen (Disney +) and big-screen outings, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has expanded its’ characters. We literally now have a multiverse of storytelling with tv series being released that lock into the jigsaw puzzle of the larger MCU film offerings.
The Multiverse of Madness drops the audience into its complex story at 100km per hour and the film never really takes a breath. The new team reveals and massive set pieces have you literally wondering what universe the film has dropped you into.
Director Sam Riami cut his teeth on horror films such as Evil Dead, so as you would expect there are a lot of elements in this film that skate its M rating for jump scares and horror elements.
The central performances of Benedict Cumberbach (Dr Stange), Elizabeth Olsen (Wanda/Scarlett Witch and Xochitl Gomez (America Chavez) are what help ground this film in the reality that it sorely needs and they are ably assisted by Rachel McAdams as Christine in a variety of variant roles throughout the film.
In his multiverse breaking turn in Spider Man: No Way Home Dr Strange said “ The multiverse is a concept about which we know frighteningly little…” Viewers may come out of this film more confused than when they entered.
The other thing to note is that if you don’t have a Disney+ subscription you might want to consider that before viewing this film. It seems that Phase 4 films are leaning into the connections with their small-screen counterparts making series such as WandaVision required viewing prior to this experience. And perhaps to understand more fully the concepts behind the multiverse, Loki would also be advisable. For extra credit, perhaps the What If? animated series may also help.
The Dr Strange films introduced the idea of a mystical realm in ways that other Marvel films have only started to explore. But despite the deep magic at the heart of the storytelling, our yearning for connection and love is revealed at the heart of this very wild ride of a film.
Doctor Strange in The Multiverse of Madness is screening widely in cinemas from 5 May.
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