Dr. Stephen Strange casts a forbidden spell that opens the doorway to the multiverse, including alternate versions of himself, whose threat to humanity is too great for the combined forces of Strange, Wong, and Wanda Maximoff.
If you can say one thing for ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’, it is that it delivers what it says on the tin. For it does explore a series of different universes and it is absolutely mad, but in a maddening, boring way and not in the thrilling, exciting way the creators I’m sure intended. There have been signs for a while that Marvel are starting to run on fumes after the big finale to their initial roster of heroes, with ‘Spider-Man’ the lone exception in a run that includes ‘Eternals’, ‘Black Widow’ and now this. I thought this was absolutely rubbish – a showcase for the latest visual effects and little more, with a story that is hard to really get invested in.
Part of that is down to the multiverse concept itself, which Marvel at this stage seem to have gone all in on (they even have a TV series ‘What If…?’ that deals with this concept), and perhaps it’s a sign they’re running out of ideas. It’s all the more frustrating because there are actually good performances from good actors here, with some solid and award winning directors attracted to waste time making a generic blockbuster when they could be making something interesting. Much like the latest ‘Fantastic Beasts’ movie, you do wonder how we have the likes of Jude Law, Mads Mikkelsen (who was in the first ‘Doctor Strange’), Benedict Cumberbatch and Elizabeth Olsen giving quality performances in material as tedious and trite as this (I suppose money is the answer).
So what is the premise of ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ you may ask? It centres on Strange (Cumberbatch) protecting a teenage girl (Xochitl Gomez) who can travel across the multiverse from Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen). This premise leads to the characters jumping between worlds, seemingly at random, which appear to be designed primarily to allow for some cool visual effects (look it’s animation!) and as an excuse for some cameos. This film has two main issues, the first being that the multiverse as a concept is a problem in that it removes any jeopardy – if you can die in one universe but live in another, what are the stakes? OK, we get this is a superhero movie and the stakes have generally been quite superficial anyway, but it makes it really, really hard to care at all when you know these characters will be brought back somehow in any case. Secondly, the villain (in this case Wanda) is far too powerful and the series of powers her ‘opponents’ have and how they work against each other are poorly defined. It might be alright if you just like flashing lights being chucked at one another but I prefer something a bit more substantial.
Look, I’m not the biggest Marvel fan (certainly of late) but I have enjoyed most of the movies, if struggling to get on board with the acclaim, and I’m perfectly willing to be thrown in the bin with Martin Scorsese when it comes to attitudes to modern blockbusters, but even taking that into account, ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ is seriously rubbish and it’s incredible that so much money and talent was put into this.
Directed By: Sam Raimi
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, Xochitl Gomez, Michael Stuhlbarg and Rachel McAdams