The Marvel Cinematic Universe continues on thru its massive storytelling with the latest huge film, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, the sequel to Doctor Strange and the continuation of stories that have been told in WandaVision Disney + series and Spider-Man: No Way Home.
There is almost no way to give a plot synopsis of this movie without spoiling something in this movie. This entire movie is a spoiler. So I am going to do my best to try and give a plot synopsis without spoiling anything. Dr. Strange gets pulled into a multiversal struggle by the appearance of new young hero America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez). Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olson) is involved too.
There. Plot summarized.
Let’s talk about the stars of this movie. Elizabeth Olson is absolutely fantastic. She was amazing in WandaVision and she just kept killing it in MOM. She is such an asset to these films and has such a grasp on her character that she brings so much gravitas to her role. Wanda Maximoff is dominant.
Benedict Cumberbatch continues to grow into the character of Stephen Strange. Every time he played the Master of the Mystic Arts, he has gotten better. Strange has a definite character arc going on through this film and he carries it extremely well.
Benedict Wong, Rachel McAdams and Xochitl Gomez all give solid performances. I liked America Chavez here actually much more than I ever liked her in the comics. Xochitl Gomez is extremely charming and you connect to her right away. Rachel McAdams’s Christine is much more important to this story than she was in the first Dr. Strange flick. And Wong is just always awesome.
When Sam Raimi stepped in to replace Scott Derrickson as director of MOM, there was a lot of excitement, but also some doubt. Excitement because Raimi could bring an aesthetic to Doctor Strange unlike any other director. Raimi’s résumé seemed to fit perfectly with the weirdness that Dr. Strange could bring to the movies. Doubt because many people wondered how much freedom Raimi would have to create something that had his flavor to it in the MCU. Never fear, the film is ripe with Raimi flavor and it is a Sam Raimi film made inside the MCU. There are so many wonderful Raimi touches from the images to the camera angles that he makes a feast for the senses.
The special effects are tremendous. It is a beautiful film and there are very few missteps in the visual creation.
However, this is also a Sam Raimi film in the sense that it is a horror movie. There are some distinctly scary scenes dealing with body horror or frightening imagery that it might be too much for some of the MCU’s younger fans. It has a really nice balance between a horror movie and the super hero film that we are accustomed to.
I will say that there were a few scenes, particularly in the middle, that I found it difficult to connect to or that I thought I should feel more than I did. I have some theories about why that was, but I can’t go into them without diving into spoiler area so I will just say that some of the emotional beats very not as emotional as I would have liked them to be.
Part of that could be the pacing of the film. It was at a rapid pace and I think I would have liked to have seen this movie get maybe 20 minutes more. That might have allowed me some more time to let certain scenes breathe. Much like the finale of Moon Knight from earlier this week, the shorter run time might have been a challenge.
Another reason may have been the expectations I had for the special cameos that were going to be in this movie…or so I thought. Again, no spoilers, but there were way fewer cameos than I thought there would be. I think it is a good thing, but my own expectations may have been playing havoc with what I watched. I plan on seeing the film again tomorrow and I will see how a second viewing does or does not change that feeling. Expectations about what COULD have been in this movie is always my fault, not the films. I should learn to just sit back and enjoy what it gives me instead of me worrying about what it doesn’t.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is an insane film, with great imagery and some unbelievable story beats. Benedict Cumberbatch and Elizabeth Olson are MVPs of the film and we are introduced to a great new character (another possible ‘Young Avenger’). Sam Raimi brings his directorial skill to the film that makes it feel like nothing we have seen in the MCU yet while still maintaining its connection to the ongoing story of the MCU. Some pacing issues aside, MOM is another success for Marvel Studios.