Directed by : Sam Raimi
Written by : Michael Waldron
Starring : Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, Xochitl Gomez, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Rachel McAdams.
When Scott Derrickson exited the much-anticipated Doctor Strange sequel, audiences were worried that the Master of the Mystic Arts’ long-awaited sequel was going to be creatively compromised by the powerful grasp of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s shackles.
But the moment Horror & Superhero veteran Sam Raimi was announced to take the helm of this multiverse-bananza, the narrative changed. Because one does not go out of their way to bring Sam Raimi out of superhero retirement only to restraint the man’s innate aptitude for crafting whacky horror-induced odysseys — which is exactly what Multiverse of Madness needed.
Which is why the newest entry to the Marvel Cinematic Universe is one of its best and one of its most engaging.
Let it be known that Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is not an MCU movie sprinkled in with Sam Raimi’s mannerisms — rather it’s completely the other way around, as this is a full-on Sam Raimi adventure, featuring bright livid colors only to then be juxtaposed by graphic and immense horror images that pushes the PG-13 rating to its limits.
Sam Raimi gets to flex his horror roots here and his other mannerisms such as his iconic flash zooms and his willingness to inject camp into scenes without compromising the emotional core of the story. The story runs at a break-neck speed, never running out of energy throughout its 127 minute runtime. In short, you’re not getting subtle Spider-Man 2002 vibes from this one, this is full on Evil Dead.
Strangely enough — or not enough — despite having his name on the marquee. This 6th outing for Benedict Cumberbatch‘s Stephen Strange felt somewhat light despite the compelling arc that he has in the film. Meanwhile, Elizabeth Olsen puts on a clinic with her performance as the Scarlet Witch — becoming the beating heart of the movie despite the character’s descent into darkness. Newcomer Xochitl Gomez is also a joy to watch onscreen and her wholesome chemistry alongside Cumberbatch’s Stephen Strange is a great counterbalance to the movie’s deeper, darker themes.
The way Loki-scribe Michael Waldron is able to channel her vulnerability through sheer displays of violence is one of the reasons Multiverse of Madness serves Wanda Maximoff much better than supposed-headliner Stephen Strange.
Despite shortening its rumored 160 minute runtime into a more swallowable 127 minutes. There’s still some fat that needed to be cut around the beginning of the third act, even as the film breezes through — you feel as if Raimi is trying to interject as much of his horror flavors into each frame. Even if it’s at the expense of pacing.
Overall, Sam Raimi’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness lives up to its multiversal insanity by providing a creepy-yet-energetic adventure that’s fully dictated by his renowned sensibilities — making audiences wince in their excitement.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is Now Available in Theaters.