Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022) movie review
So Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is the newest film in the MCU, and if for some reason you aren’t one of the few who contributed towards the film’s insane $187 million domestic opening- well I don’t believe you! Which by the way is why this review is so late. Actually I’m going to play with the review format here. Why? Why not? So yeah let’s talk Mr. Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness!
So critics are kinda so so on the film. Actually almost everyone I’ve talked to is so so in the film. (I’ll actually be posting a video where my good pal Alex and I talk about this movie, so be sure to check that out after you finish reading this review. It’s long, but hey just pop it on in the background!) Long story short, people seem to think this movie is just average. Which puts me in a ‘strange’ position because, while I am usually in the minority against Marvel films, I now find myself the only one I know who really loved this movie… Yeah, it’s weird I know.
Let me start by saying I get it. It’s not a perfect movie; it’s got story problems and character problems and some really cheesy lines of dialogue. But while a few of those things did bother me, like the underdeveloped introduction to America Chavez who I feel could have been a more fleshed out character, my takeaways from this film were almost totally in the utterly fantastic audio-visual entertainment that is Sam Raimi’s direction. So if you are here to see me nitpick through the story? Sorry, but it’s not what I went to this film to see and it’s not what I walked out thinking about.
For as long as the MCU has existed (or at least as long as it’s released some fairly middling movies), I’ve craved for Marvel to bring in directors who interject their own unique style into this stale genre. And in Marvel’s defense, there are certainly films in this series that have done that! The Winter Soldier (2014) gave us a spy thriller, Shang-Chi (2021) took on a martial arts style, and Ragnarok (2017) was a wacky 80s buddy comedy, for better or for worse… And now we have a standout, as we are given the MCU’s first horror film.
Oddly enough, Sam Raimi didn’t join the project until the fallout with Scott Derrickson, who interestingly enough is also a horror director. Regardless, Raimi tackled the film with a bold visual style complete with wonderful and unique editing, sharp and captivating colors (which for Marvel is rare), and downright terrifying visuals for a PG-13 superhero film. I’m not saying that it’s true “horror” or anything, just that I jumped more than once. Plus there are some clear homages to different genres of horror that I got such a kick out of!
Accompanying him and the fantastic visuals and rather original ideas in how those visuals are presented, is composer Danny Elfman, who brings his A game as someone who has worked in both genres. Like Raimi’s direction, the score delicately danced back and forth between epic superhero action (even carrying over Giacchino’s theme from the first film), and a horror film, where he pulls from more than a few of his all-time best scores. It may not be the best score in the MCU, but excluding the Disney+ shows, it’s pretty high on the list…
“Ryan,” you say. “That’s nice. But you are reviewing a movie. Shouldn’t you talk about the story?” Well you fictional person talking back to me! To you I say- yeah probably… But I also don’t want to spoil things. So I’ll be vague. First, just know that when I’m into a film for style over substance, I tend to just roll with the writing. And since this is one writer (which is also uncommon for Marvel), I want to give the man the benefit of the doubt.
This film makes chance after chance and bold call after bold call, and I’d say that a majority of them work. Some don’t, some only work if you are caught up on some certain things, and some really push the violence level of what we’ve seen in a Marvel movie. (Which of course I really appreciated…) But not only do I really like most of the story beats, I admire the shots they took that missed too! I mean it’s not a perfect movie, but I also got very emotionally invested in the way this film handles the story arcs for a few of its characters; one in particular.
So in a very spoiler-free way, let me talk about the things that people didn’t like that I liked and move on! That really unique fight that- let’s say Danny Elfman had a really fun part in? Fantastic. I don’t care about the literal whatever magic wizards blah blah IT’S AWESOME! The finale? Yeah really great actually! I think there was probably a debate about how to resolve the conflict, and this film did it better from a character standpoint than most other films in the MCU that I’ve seen. Yeah I said it.
So yeah, I loved this movie. Rightfully so? Probably not. Do I have issues? Absolutely. But the wonderful visual style, complete with a fantastic score, the horror elements and strong tone, and some bold calls just won me over. Not to mention some top notch performances, one of which I think is the best we’ve seen from them in this series. If this weren’t a Marvel film I may be harsher actually, but I went into this movie honestly expecting Raimi to be held back. What I got instead was Spider-Man meets Evil Dead, and gosh- I couldn’t be happier with the results. (Except maybe a film with a longer runtime.) Solid 8/10.
So yeah, Doctor Strange 2? Did you see it? Probably… So what did you think? Did you like it less than I did? Be sure to leave a like or a comment below and let us know! And of course, thanks for reading!
-review by Ryan Prince