After a pandemic filled with a lot of Marvel TV output and some lower-key film releases (all with varying degrees of success), we finally get an MCU return of their A-list roster, and Doctor Strange doesn’t disappoint. As the title would suggest in his second standalone film, ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ finds Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) having to deal with a lot of imminent danger from across the multiverse. The end product is a film that is an immense joy to watch from start to finish, with peril and excitement present at every turn, and marks a triumphant return to form for the whole of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
As you’d expect, this Marvel film is brimming with huge plot developments and shocks. This is a spoiler-free review so I won’t go into specific details here, but the plot finds Doctor Strange having to deal with an interdimensional threat that is chasing down a teenager named America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez). She is able to travel between the multiverse, and this unique ability has garnered the attention of a powerful being who wants to seize control of that power. Having dealt with the multiverse before (in ‘Avengers: Endgame’ and ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’), Doctor Strange and the sorcerer supreme Wong (Benedict Wong) seek the help of Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen), who has now ostracised herself from society (after the events of ‘WandaVision’).
The cast is superb here, with Benedict Cumberbatch comfortably in control of the ‘madness’ of the film’s many plot-threads. His screen presence is always a joy to watch and he handles both the comedic and the serious with assured confidence. Benedict Wong has really come into his own playing Wong, and this performance leaves little doubt that the MCU would benefit greatly from a Wong-led standalone project. He and Cumberbatch continue to share great chemistry too. Rachel McAdams is always wonderful, and she has a very important role in this film which is handled well by the writers. Elizabeth Olsen steals her scenes as the Scarlett Witch and is perhaps the most satisfyingly realised MCU character we’ve had. The complexities of her state of mind (especially after her brilliant run in ‘WandaVision’) shows that Wanda is one of the MVPs of the MCU.
A new face to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Xochitl Gomez is sensational as America Chavez. She brings warmth and genuine heart to the role and effortlessly handles the huge weight of expectation that’s placed on her shoulders with this film. Those familiar with the comics will know that this particular story ushers in some pretty big revelations. ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ is full of brilliant shocks and surprises so hopefully you’ll go into this story unspoiled so you can really enjoy the cool moments. The cinema erupted into loud cheers and applause when some of these came up onscreen, so you are in for a real treat.
Director Sam Raimi, who is no stranger to the world of horror or, indeed, Marvel properties having helmed Toby Maguire’s trilogy of ‘Spider-Man’ movies, has delivered an immersive visual treat that has to balance a lot of differing variables. He does so with great success, giving the film a coherent and satisfying story, some amazing action sequences that lean wonderfully into horror, and he manages to put his unmistakable style-stamp on the movie too. It all comes together perfectly and that’s an incredibly hard thing to do, especially with a film that contains so much plot and character development. This is the best film Raimi has done since ‘Drag Me To Hell’ and it’s great to see him back on top.
‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ is a wonderful watch. Don’t listen to the early negative reviews, this is exactly what the MCU needed after a very hit-and-miss few years of output. With an amazing ensemble, led expertly by Benedict Cumberbatch, the MCU feels revitalised as a direct result of this film. The set-up for the future looks very satisfying too as we enter a new phase of storytelling, with some incredibly cool characters being introduced in the future. This is the film that puts us squarely on that path, and it does so with a deft handling of action, adventure and humour. ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ is a must-watch film and kicks-off the summer season of blockbuster cinema with a magical bang.
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Xochitl Gomez, Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, Michael Stuhlbarg Director: Sam Raimi Writer: Michael Waldron Certificate: 12A Duration: 126 mins Released by: Marvel Studios/Disney Release date: 5th May 2022