In 2022, the multiverse is seemingly in all places (abruptly) on film screens, together with, after all, in “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” the sequel to 2016’s “Doctor Strange.” The movie sees snarky superhero surgeon Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) again in motion, although he by no means actually went away, as we noticed him simply final Christmas in “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” This time, the nice physician tangles with the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), so right here’s to hoping you’re all caught up on “Wandavision” on Disney+. Strange finds himself crashing by the multiverse whereas making an attempt to save lots of a scrappy new child, America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez), from the Scarlet Witch’s grasp.
Lauded style director Sam Raimi, who helmed the unique Spidey motion pictures, two complete Peter Parkers in the past, is behind the digicam for “Multiverse of Madness,” and he brings his exuberant, gory type to bear on this Strange world. There’s a gleefulness to the best way Raimi shoots an enormous, bloody eye because it’s plucked from an octopus monster rampaging the skyscrapers of New York City. He applies his signature horror aesthetic, which he pioneered with the “Evil Dead” trilogy, to this witchy MCU installment, turning it into a correct horror movie, with zombies, monsters and terrifying killers that stalk down darkened hallways.
It’s good to see Raimi enjoying within the style film area once more, bringing horror prospers to the MCU, however make no mistake, that is the Marvel House Style, to make sure. Which is okay, it’s at all times a serviceable, if quite uninspiring, backdrop to the superstars as superheroes, quippy dialogue and cameos galore. But even with the Raimi contact, the entire endeavor simply feels so fundamental. Aside from one fast, hallucinatory ‘verse-trip, the locations are a street corner in New York, and a street corner in New York with flowers. There’s a mountain high with a temple and a mountaintop with a shrine. This isn’t a multiverse of insanity, however of mundanity.
This sequel, written by Michael Waldron, is probably going a second installment earlier than a 3rd, or a minimum of some connective tissue to different movies and TV exhibits, and it simply looks like a principally inconsequential stopover to introduce new characters and tie up unfastened ends, additional knitting collectively the MCU throughout the large and small screens.
Though there’s a lot potential to be present in ‘verse-hopping, these characters simply need to hop proper on house. A lovelorn Stephen Strange longs for his ex-girlfriend, Christine (Rachel McAdams), whereas Wanda Maximoff, aka the Scarlet Witch, simply desires to be a mother. Maybe the multiverse can ship what they really feel they lack in life. Relatable, maybe, however contemplating the infinite potentialities that an omnipotent witch and wizard would possibly exploit inside the multiverse, the dream of ice cream on the sofa is hardly awe-inspiring right here, and neither Olsen nor Cumberbatch manages to promote it.
Gomez is cute, Benedict Wong as Sorcerer Supreme Wong is at all times a welcome addition, however “Multiverse of Madness” simply isn’t that fascinating. Minds would possibly begin to wander, and surprise, as to why we’re so fixated on multiverses in the mean time. Maybe — most likely — as a result of we’re all craving for an escape hatch out of this timeline, a second likelihood, a do-over. Wouldn’t or not it’s good to open up a portal to a world that’s like ours, however just a bit bit completely different? Maybe they received some issues proper over there that we didn’t. It doesn’t look like a coincidence that multiverses are having a second after the previous two years.
But Wong leaves the Doctor, and us, with a robust reminder that if we’re eager for one other ‘verse: we’ve received to seek out gratitude on this one each day, and recognize that we’re in it collectively. For higher, and for worse, the messages to be discovered on this “Multiverse of Madness” aren’t even that unusual in any respect.
‘DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS’
2 1/2 stars (out of 4)
MPAA score: PG-13 (for intense sequences of violence and motion, horrifying pictures and a few language)
Running time: 2:06
Where to look at: In theaters Friday