Don’t worry, we’re keeping this review spoiler-free
My impression of the MCU films is that they lean towards action-filled scenes with a dash of punchy comedy. (RDJ's improv scenes say hello!) It's what made everyone love the media franchise in the first place. But as I sat down in the cinema to watch Doctor Stange in the Multiverse of Madness, safe to say this part of the MCU touches upon freaky elements and jumpscares in between. Nothing short of what we can expect with director Sam Raimi (Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man trilogy and Evil Dead trilogy) at the helm.
Based on the concise synopsis, the movie follows Doctor Strange as he opens the portal to the multiverse with a forbidden spell. Little does the hero know that a larger threat looms. Doctor Strange in the Madness of the Multiverse picks up where Spider-Man: No Way Home left off. Minor spoiler for the latter film, our favorite heroes dabbled into alternate universes. In this movie, Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) pays the price for doing so, yet again.
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Meet the cast and characters.
I'm going to tell you outright: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness provides a ton of easter eggs, in true MCU fashion. The movie will have you questioning each scene from references to old characters, unexpected cameos and shocking surprises. If you're an avid fan theory reader, some of your hunches might just be true. Fan-favorite Avengers won't appear. But instead, a different set of heroes will. Doctor Strange will find odd allies and enemies in a wide variety of superhuman entities.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth Olsen's reprise as Wanda Maximoff or the Scarlet Witch will have you conflicted. So for major MCU fans reading this, I suggest recapping WandaVision before heading to the cinema. You'll need context to fully understand Wanda's participation. Lastly, Marvel also uses this film to introduce one of the next generation Avengers: America Chavez. The first openly lesbian Latina MCU character debuts in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, played by Xochitl Gomez (The Babysitters Club). The eager teen with earnest eyes will have you rooting for her victory.
The mayhem of magic
One of the most exciting things about Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is the deeper dive into supernatural powers: sorcery and witchcraft. MCU Phase Four explores brand new concepts and realities, including the extent of Doctor Strange's strengths. Sure, physical hand-to-hand (or, in this case, power-to-power) combat abundant in action films appears in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. But the movie also showcases the intimate relationship between magic and its wielder. May it be Wanda, Wong or Doctor Strange himself, the film shows that powers come from energy deep within. Channeling such profound energy requires a strong relationship with the self, especially when push comes to shove.
It's this complex origin and use of magic that provides freakier imagery. After all, sorcery and witchcraft go beyond the plane of humanity. The power transcends lives and universes. Each entity and craft has its own protectors, prophecies, rules and exceptions. Once any of this breaks, the bearers of this potent ability have to face the dire consequences.
The special effects keep on doing the most.
If there's one thing I appreciate about MCU films is their incredible attention to detail when it comes to special effects. As the title suggests, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has Doctor Strange and his allies traversing alternate realities. And safe to say, each exploration is a trip. Places are transformed into utopias or wastelands, immersing you in the entire scene. In addition, the in-betweens of universes are nicely constructed and animated, bound to leave you in awe.
Not to mention, some scenes often look like they belong in a different movie franchise. Sam Raimi mixes his expertise on superhero and horror flicks and flexes it in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The movie balances grotesque and beautiful, fast-paced and painstakingly slow. The overwhelming amount of intricate details that create a grander picture should be seen in its full glory.
Overall, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness provides an exciting journey. It's the perfect film to catch in the cinemas. Not only because of the effects, but it's better to experience and watch the conflict unfold right before your very eyes. Sure, the Doctor Strange sequel makes a case for a new superhero movie. But it will have you evaluating your own choices and how you play with the cards you're dealt with.
Art Gail Ordiales