Marvel has toyed with the concept of parallel universes before in Spider-Man: No Way Home. While that film was a big nostalgia fest for Spider-Man fans, this film is in a different league altogether. While it doesn’t fit under any genre, it could broadly be described as a horror film. But this genre-bending film isn’t just limited to horror. It’s a swashbuckling adventure story as well and is a cracking origin movie for America Chavez’s character. It ties together the events of WandaVision and No Way Home and sort of indicates where the forthcoming Marvel films are heading. It’s a treasure trove of Easter eggs. Fans would be discussing what they’ve discovered in the film for months to come.
Dr Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is having, well, strange dreams. In one of the dreams, he sees himself assisting teenager America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) against a giant octopus like monster. He wakes up disturbed, only to find that his dream wasn’t a dream at all but a representation of the actual events that happened to another Dr Strange in a parallel universe. He turns to the foremost expert on parallel realities, Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen), who strangely is having dreams of her own – that of being the loving mother of two adorable sons…
In the first instalment of Dr Strange, he was shown to be an egotistical doctor hellbent on finding a cure for his medical condition and willing to cross any boundaries to do so. Here, a more mellow side of him comes through. He’s shown nursing a broken heart in the film. He was reluctant to propose to Dr Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams) and tired of waiting, she gets married to someone else. Though the bond between them remains strong. In the absence of Iron Man, he was shown to be a mentor of sorts to Peter Parker, aka The Spider-Man and here he takes another young superhero under his wing. Though he’s a reluctant mentor and is aware of the fact that America Chavez is developing a crush on him. Strangely, even though the film is named after the central character, Dr Strange, he can’t technically be said to be at the center of it. That seat of honor belongs to Wanda Maximoff, also known as The Scarlet Witch. Wanda has been a peripheral character till now. Yes, they made a series on her but it’s here that she comes into the full force of her powers and let’s just say they’re more than a match for Doctor Strange’s own formidable powers. Saying anything more would be giving into spoilers. Another peripheral character Wong (Benedict Wong), too gets a meaty role this time around. In all fairness, he should be getting a standalone film or a series all for himself.
Director Sam Raimi returns to the superhero genre after Spider-Man 3 (2003). What a ride the original three films starring Tobey Maguire were. Suffice to say this sequel too packs helluva punch. Raimi is also known for his cult horror films like The Evil Dead. Imagine the blood, gore and the terror of his horror films married to the colorful and yet deeply moving narrative of his Spider-Man films. If Marvel ever decides to make a film on their Marvel Zombies series of comics, Raimi is the man for them. Marvel films are known for their emotional core even amongst all the visual chaos and the VFX madness that they display and Raimi has made sure he stands true to the company’s vision despite making a hugely individualistic product. Marvel may have produced but it remains a Sam Raimi film.
Benedict Cumberbatch looks like he was born to play Dr Strange. He makes us love and hate the character yet again. Not many actors would have made such a supernatural character believable and kudos to Cumberbatch for humanising Strange by bringing out his angst, pain and insecurities out in the open. Elizabeth Olsen displays both virtuosity and versatility in her portrayal of Wanda Maximoff. She has shown that you can show dramatic ability in a superhero film as well. She goes through different shades of character through the course of the film and wins our sympathy. Marvel is showing signs of moving towards younger heroes. They have a Ms Marvel series coming up, featuring a South Asian superhero, the present Spider-Man is also a teenager and so is Miles Morales, the Spider-Man from another universe. America Chavez is another superhero they’re keen to develop further and they couldn’t have asked for a better actor than Xochitl Gomez to play the role. She’s a natural in front of the camera and is a future star to watch out for.
Both horror buffs and superhero buffs will rejoice at Sam Raimi’s return to form. The movie has something for everyone plus it contains power-packed performances by the entire ensemble cast. And it has plenty of surprises to boot. In short, it’s a winner all the way, alright.
Trailer : Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness
Ronak Kotecha, May 4, 2022, 10:25 PM IST
STORY: When a mysterious evil force is wreaking havoc on the city, Dr Stephen Strange and Wong happen to rescue a young teenager, who can travel multiple universes aka multiverse. But saving her comes at an unexpected cost and consequences that neither of them are ready for.
REVIEW: Watching a film from any Marvel Cinematic Universe means that you already sign up for a few standard issue tropes that every fan and now even the non-fans are well aware of. So, the fun is always in getting the surprises that come along the way, in any form. Director Sam Raimi (The Evil Dead franchise, Spiderman trilogy) knows this only too well and smartly works his way in organically building a narrative that can be executed with exciting elements of horror, fantasy, colorful visual effects and a clash of the superheroes. It’s a recipe that cannot and doesn’t go wrong even when it’s built on a simple comic-book premise of saving the world (multiple worlds in this case) from someone who has the absolute power. Of course, we’re making it sound too simple and easy but ‘Dr Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ does have its share of emotions of complex characters with real and shades of gray that one could argue are ‘reasonable’.
It’s a tightly knit screenplay with little space for verbose, lengthy scenes. Instead, Raimi cashes in on his expertise to make this one his strongest and the most vibrant film, visually with unmissable elements of horror. As Dr. Strange travels the multiverse and tackles new challenges, we see a gamut of unexpected cameos that collectively make for a thrilling face-off with the enemy.
Benedict Cumberbatch ably carries the film on his strong shoulders as the dapper Dr. Strange, dutifully going about making the hard choices and sacrifices for the larger good. However, this time there is more to Dr. Strange and his brand of justice, which is perhaps the only layered aspect in this otherwise straightforward story. Elizabeth Olsen’s wise and sagely persona works very well in convincing the audience of her cause as Wanda Maximoff aka Scarlet Witch, who emerges as a force to reckon with. Olsen’s pitch-perfect portrayal of her character’s conviction is one of the key highlights of this film. Benedict Wong as Wong and Rachel McAdams as Christine Palmer provide good support. Xochitl Gomez is a welcome addition as the confused yet formidable America Chavez – a teenager, who possesses the ultimate power to switch between universes.
This edition of the Dr. Strange franchise balances the influx of action, adventure and a seamless narrative, in a way that it never feels overstuffed or forced. Raimi and his writers ensure the plot is well paced out and give ample scope for it to be immersed in colourful special effects and elaborate set designs (especially the Kamar-Taj) with an unparalleled visual finesse. Danny Elfman’s soundtrack adds heft to the grand spectacle.
Director Sam Raimi works his magic by giving the audience an entertaining multiverse saga by packaging it smartly with the elements that he believes can cast a spell on them, irrespective of their love for the MCU.