Thursday, May 5, 2022

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness


Every night, Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) wakes up from the same nightmare, that of a teenager being chased by various supernatural creatures. On the day of Christine Palmer’s (Rachel McAdams) wedding, the city is ambushed by a tentacled monster and much to Stephen’s surprise, the girl from his dreams materializes in front of him. She introduces herself as America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) who has the ability to travel between universes by punching star-shaped holes through them, a superpower she has yet to learn how to control. With Wong (Benedict Wong) noticing how the creatures in pursuit are not demonic in nature but rather summoned via witchcraft, Doctor Strange seeks the help of one of the most powerful magic wielders he knows. Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) is now living a quiet life and claims to have put magic behind her. Unbeknownst to the ex-Sorcerer Supreme, the Scarlet Witch has an entirely different plan in mind.

The plot is paper-thin and all over the place, not to mention contrived and lazy at many points. The first Doctor Strange film is better in terms of storyline. Spider-Man: No Way Home, while a bit gimmicky and nostalgia-dependent, is still the better Multiverse movie as far as execution and audience impact are concerned. As one too many early reviews have already pointed out, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness appears disjointed, somehow like an extended episode of What If that unfortunately fails at its attempt on coherence.

On a more positive note, the visuals are top-notch. Sam Raimi is back in full form and does not disappoint with his return to the superhero genre. While some will find the film a bit scary, it does not really have anything to do with the storyline per se. Lest we forget, this is not a full-on horror flick. Perhaps it’d be better to brand the film as a supernatural suspense thriller. The higher PG13 rating leaves some room for more blood and gore relative to other MCU entries intentionally toned down to cater to a younger audience.

America Chavez is a darling, this coming from someone who has never been previously introduced to the character. I have no idea how she is in the comics, but she is a worthy addition to the MCU if this movie is to be the sole basis. The controversy regarding her two mothers responsible for the film’s ban in some countries is just there to expound on her background, nothing scandalous whatsoever. If your disdain of the character stems primarily from that fact, then you might want to check on your homophobia.

Olsen outshines Cumberbatch. The film title should have been Scarlet Witch in the Multiverse of Madness featuring Doctor Strange. Having said that, this movie feels like a follow-up to WandaVision more than it is a sequel for Doctor Strange. While we are not complaining because we love Olsen's Wanda to bits, the storyline does not really do her any favors in terms of character development. Her story arc here feels like a dragging extension of what we already witnessed in her Disney+ series, but that show gives her more justice to be honest. Sad to say, she seems a bit one-dimensional here. It must be the screenplay.

The mid-credits scene introduces a new MCU character. Suffice it to say, why be Wonder Woman’s mom when you can rule an entire dark dimension on your own, right? The end credits scene is annoying, unnecessary, and stupid. The cameos are fun but kinda meh. They shouldn't have been teased in the TV spots to preserve the element of surprise like what Sony did with No Way Home. After all is said and done, it's quite a letdown considering the hype. Here is to hoping that whoever helms the third installment can aptly conclude the trilogy and redeem the Sorcerer Supreme in the process.

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