Sam Raimi, director of “The Evil Dead” and the original “Spider-Man” trilogy, is back on the filmmaking scene with the latest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.”
Released last Friday to lukewarm critical praise as compared to Marvel’s other ventures — most notably “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” which came out last December and also featured Strange—this film finds the titular Doctor Strange played by the ever-lovable Benedict Cumberbatch — after the events of “No Way Home” in a mind-bending horror fiasco that spans multiple realities in connected universes.
Strange encounters a young girl named America Chavez, played by Xochitl Gomez, who harnesses the singular power of traversing the multiverse. This envious ability is sought after by our antagonist, Scarlet Witch, played by Elizabeth Olsen — who was once beloved by Marvel fans as Wanda Maximoff — to travel to a different reality where she might live peaceably.
Doctor Strange and other recognizable characters jump through realities to protect America and find a way to stop the Scarlet Witch’s frightening new powers.
Despite the less than fantastic critical response, the film opened with a strong weekend at the Box Office of nearly $450 million globally. This goes to show that even after more than a decade, audiences are still craving Marvel’s buffet of superheroes.
And rightfully so, for Marvel fans and film fans alike, there are moments to enjoy in this movie. Personally, I fall in the latter of those two categories, and despite being tired — for quite some time now — of the marvel film formula, I did appreciate a few things about the film, in particular, the homage Raimi paid to his earlier movies, “The Evil Dead” trilogy. His style, a kind of a goofy-horror mix that always manages to throw Bruce Campbell in somewhere, will not be what a typical Marvel fan expects. For them, that might be a fault, but for me, it was refreshing to see a more seasoned director take a crack at a Marvel film, especially a director who seasons the dish with his own spices.
However, the movie is not without fault. The central theme about happiness was laughable, like the writers ad-libbed the script the morning of the film’s shoot. It didn’t add anything to a much-needed discussion about finding happiness in our modern society.
Also, Scarlet Witch’s driving motivation was weak. Weak like you could poke a hole through it with your pinkie weak. But besides the subpar themes and a couple plot holes that squeeze their way into every Marvel film, it was an entertaining flick.
Also, a warning — the film is more gruesome than your average PG-13 movie, so it might be tough to handle for the faint of heart or young children.
Again, it’s hard to judge a film that’s so rooted in the universe that it fills more like a TV episode than a movie. But for this one, I’ll try. I give “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” a seven out of 10.