By Lee Romero
Will the real Doctor Strange please stand up!
Post ENDGAME, Marvel Studios has been enjoyable, but a bit disjointed. It’s not to say the novelty is over (yet), because there are those D+ shows that have helped keep interest afloat, but there comes a time where fans (like myself) will need to feel that connecting enthusiasm we felt with phases 1 – 3. BLACK WIDOW, SHANG-CHI, and ETERNALS haven’t really been the blowout gems Marvel was used to putting out cinematically. They served their purpose, but the formula no longer works to a full extent. Something needed to be done to re-rattle the cage and I think (THINK!) it found its remedy in the form of the multiverse. First introduced in SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME and continuing with the second installment of DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS, sprinkled with al little WANDA VISION tie-in, along with WHAT IF…? (?) At least it looked that way to me!
In the MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS, Doctor Strange revisits the Multiverse and takes on challenges further than he did in NO WAY HOME. The reluctant journey towards the unknown (alongside his mystical peeps) has him navigating the mind-bending and dangerous alternate realities to confront a mysterious new antagonist.
Well, uhm… As spoiler-free as possible… It’s more like the Multiverse of Mayhem. Not in a negative way – relax! However, this sequel has a mixture of good and bad. Much of it comes from its overly ambitious narrative. Trust me when I say, there’s a lot. At the helm of it all is Sam Raimi, who, for the most part, knows how to tackle these big budget blockbusters. I mean, he’s the “original spidey rotten scoundrel.” Therefore, I conclude, you can bank on a lot of engaging adventures, visual intensity, cool set-pieces, loud and chaotic confrontations, and of course, humor. That, along with some cool cameos, character intros (like Xochitl Gomez), and tie-ins to other storylines it keeps the MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS decent and fun to watch. The downfall comes in the form of so much to take in, it not only becomes overwhelming at times, but the story isn’t as heavy or as strong as it should be considering what it rides on. If anything, it’s mind-numbing and not emotionally effective. The empty calorie isn’t coming from its cast because they’re all on point in whatever capacity they serve. It’s just the dialog felt bland. I didn’t feel for anything or anyone.
A mixture of the two leaves this standalone on a seesaw. It’s not bad. If anything, along with NO WAY HOME, it’s one-of-two MCU pieces that have been the best in terms of theatrical release. For that alone, it deserves respect. You’ll be entertained for sure, especially with all its teases and surprises as it leaps into different universes. The magic remains! (No pun.) It’s just not as powerful and can easily be forgettable to a certain degree as it compares to others. It had the potential to cast a stronger spell, but you can’t win them all.
Oh, yeah… there are two end credit scenes. Stick around!
Genre: Sci-Fi/Adventure | Rated: PG-13 | Run Time: 2:06
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Elizabeth Olsen, Benedict Wong, Xochitl Gomez, with Michael Stühlbarg, and Rachel McAdams.
Directed by Sam Raimi
Official Movie Site: www.marvel.com