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DOCTOR STRANGE: THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS gets 2.5/10 The wrong universe


Directed by Sam Raimi

Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Elisabeth Olsen, Xochitl Gomez

2.5/10

Doctor Strange: The Multiverse Of Badness came into cinemas and social media with a red haze of hype, that quickly settled to reveal rubble. Like any Marvel film since Endgame, it was underwhelming, destructive, and visually unsatiating – more fizzle than pop.

The movie opens on a new character, America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez), who can multiverse jump and is being hunted down by a dark entity. She is aided by that universe’s Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), which gives us a glimpse not only of his arrogance, but also to his ability to make the tough decisions – meaning, that the safety of many outweighs the life of the one. Chavez’s unpredictable power then jumps her to our Strange, and here’s where the Multiverse of Badness begins.

Rather early on we are introduced to the current Scarlet Witch (Elisabeth Olsen) we have seen in Wandavision, and here she is painted as the villain of the movie.

Ultimately with Tony Stark gone, someone must wear the smarmy mantle, so who better than the arrogant surgeon come ‘mystic supreme’ – who gets frustrated that the love of his life has moved on, because she would not wait for his emotionally stunted self to step outside his career driven ego, regardless of the universe.

Wanda/Scarlet Witch is the only character with any connection to the audience. She has watched herself enjoy motherhood across other universes (finally knowing happiness), but continues to have her family stolen, murdered, and ripped away from her in 616 (our world). Strange, on the other hand, has proven time and again that his ego knows no bounds and that his actions do not mirror his audacity – then with one sentence of affirmation to Chavez, she suddenly understands how to wield her momentous ability by literally punching her way through the fabric of time and space – and now, just happens to know how to jump to specified worlds, of which she has only been to 73 in the gigantic number of them. But sure, let’s rock-‘em-sock-‘em until you got ‘em.

The writing in this movie does every character a disservice in some capacity. Scenes, whether directed or filmed, are cringey – using B-grade dialogue, outdated transitions, and crash zooms that intensify the untethered dynamic of this film. Whether the production tried to pay homage to Wandavision, or to painful 80s superhero television sitcoms, the style and pacing of this film failed. Fight choreography, and moments that were intended to show a character’s drive, were short and fast – whilst the camera lingered on wide-eyed stares at doors before Z-grade jump scares, and Strange walking up a staircase into mist.

Once again Marvel allows the parody of powerful characters seep into their movies, to provide balance to the characters who are “more human” like “that arrow guy with the mohawk.”

Laced with psychedelic scenes that disengage the audience, as Strange and co. bounce between multiverses, only confuses the mind – whereas Everything, Everywhere, All at Once championed this style in a way that was more digestible.

Highlights (of which there are few) include the onscreen cameos of Patrick Stewart as Professor X, and Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter. With Wanda serving boss witch energy, and more humanity than Strange, the Multiverse of Badness ended as it began – Strange parading around the city with a smirk, and a pat on the shoulder.

Overall, fans and Marvel enthusiasts will find many things to like and dislike about this film. The attentive will pick up on the laziness of Marvel Studio’s storytelling and production – with the potential light at the end of the tunnel coming post-credits. Doctor Strange may be in the ICU for now, but has yet to flat-line.

JOSHUA HALL HAINES

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