Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (Non Spoiler Review!)
Twenty Years ago, influential Director Sam Raimi released the first Spider-Man film to theaters which garnered critical praise, huge box office reception and further cementing Marvel's credibility within cinema, greenlighting movies such as Iron Man which laid the groundwork for the MCU. So, it’s good that Marvel Studios have tapped Raimi to direct the second sequel based on their in-house Sorcerer Supreme and who's better than to have Raimi utilize his batshit creativity to helm this project?
Doctor Strange Multiverse of Madness features our Sorcerer Supreme Superhero played by Benedict Cumberbatch and most importantly, marks the director's return from a long hiatus from both Marvel and horror cinema and personally, it’s great to see him back in the game!
Now, if many of you plan to dive into this sequel without any familiarity or the titular character, I strongly advise you to watch both Wandavision and the What If episodes on Disney Plus which is a prerequisite and serve as connective tissue for the film's narrative. I won't go much into spoiler territory but there's a character called get this, "America" Chavez, who plays a significant role as a McGuffin who has the power to leap through alternate realities who is pursued by Shuma Gorarh the one eyed demonic octopus ( Yes, he's from the comics and even videogames like the Marvel vs Capcom series.) until the good Doctor intervenes and by doing so is enthralled in a scenario reminiscent of The Terminator, and Days of Future Past, where in this sequel, Strange must protect Chavez from the Darkhold, or the fate of the Multiverse, including 616, will fall into complete chaos.
This is completely different than what I had initially perceived judging from the trailers. i.e., Stephen Strange's actions during the events of Spider-Man Far from Home, caused a serious rift in the Multiverse stream which unleased Shuma Gorarh, America Chavez or Stephen's evil Doppelganger into the 616, but Marvel Studios had done a complete 180 on me, as the trailers were simply, "bait and switch" and that's what I found off-putting.
While the pacing and dialogue is somewhat janky in the beginning, the story manages to gain momentum after say, 15 minutes however in the meantime, the cinematography and especially the CGI effects are mothing short of immersive.
The horror elements used throughout "Madness" is sure to frighten a few kids who assume this would be just another Disney Superhero film but at least there is a few comedic breaks to somewhat balance the horror premise.
(Raimi even allows self-awareness dialogue like Spider-Man’s organic webbing.) This is perhaps the MCU's gateway into horror, despite being a PG-13 film, there were a few death scenes which I never expected from a Disney movie even if it's from a horror or fantasy perspective! We heard gasps from the audience during one shocking scene. Yep, Raimi brought his A-game, as shit just got real!
That said, was blown away by a few cameo appearances and very glad I didn't go to social media as there are so many who are quick to drop spoilers for the sake of clout chasing. However, there’s one all too familiar face, that will bring a smile to the many Sam Raimi fans out there. 😉
Raimi of course, brought Composer Danny Elfman of Darkman and the first three Spider-Man films back for the ride, and there were a few scores that stood out, but Elfman went all out during a confrontation between the "Doctors" where his soundtrack matched get this, weaponized music notes. 🎵 It was a very cleaver dialogue free scene almost reminiscent to Silent Interlude from the G.I. Joe comics. "Madness" is both whimsical and at the same time, dour, especially regarding Wanda's arc which provides a bit of closure and without going into spoiler territory, I will say that Elizabeth Olsen's Scarlet Witch epitomizes the tragic hero, and her praised performance is well deserved.
Multiverse of Madness is full of surprises and don't leave until you have at least watched the mid credits scene that sets itself for another sequel. This was Raimi's return to form, and he did not disappoint! Whether it’s the comedic timing or returning to his horror roots as there is a great deal of that within this sequel. Again, it may alienate those looking for a standard Superhero flick, but Horror enthusiasts and fans of Mr. Raimi, will certainly rejoice in his long overdue return!
That said, can we get a Midnight Sons film adaptation, Sammy?