‘Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ lives up to its name

The latest MCU movie provides entertainment despite a messy plot

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Marvel Studios

Dr. Strange examines different worlds in the “multiverse” using his magic.

By Tanish Mendki and Nameek Chowdhury

Diving headfirst into the concept of the existence of multiple universes in past films such as ‘Loki’ and ‘Spiderman: No Way Home,’ ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ is another addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film, released in theaters on May 6, is directed by Sam Raimi — known for directing the Tobey Maguire Spiderman trilogy — and stars Benedict Cumberbatch in the titular role.

In the movie, Dr. Stephen Strange, a surgeon-turned-superhero, attempts to protect a young girl named America Chavez (played by Xochitl Gomez) from a demon following them through the multiverse. Alongside his allies, Strange also faces Wanda Maximoff (played by Elizabeth Olsen), also known as the Scarlet Witch, who is reeling from the loss of her figmented children and attempts to steal Chavez’s ability to access parallel worlds to bring them back. As Strange and Chavez travel through multiple realities to avoid Maximoff, they also stumble upon alternate versions of themselves.

While it’s not required to watch previous comic book inspired movies to enjoy this one, it contributes to the experience, like the show “‘Wanda Vision.”’ The sheer volume of comic book references, character cameos and MCU world-building feels like a comic book fan’s fever dream.

Raimi’s excellent direction successfully captures the utter chaos of the movie through its visuals. As universes collide and numerous magic spells are thrown around, unique camera angles such as close up point-of-view shots help the audience understand exactly what occurs in a given scene. In a particularly dazzling sequence, Strange and Chavez fall through a number of different worlds, where they both turn into block versions of themselves and are made fully out of paint in another.

Musically, composer Danny Elfman’s score is one of the best in any MCU movie yet. As multiple characters from past MCU movies are re-introduced, Elfman brings back their theme music through subtle notes that sound familiar to fans of the franchise. The highlight of Elfman’s score comes during a magical battle consisting of musical notes and sheets, takes place where Elfman’s music blends perfectly into the action to mesmerize the audience.

Additionally, the actors’ performances contribute greatly to the engagement of the film. Cumberbatch provides a stellar performance as the main character, striking a balance between his emotional self and his confident facade. At the beginning of the movie, when he attends the wedding of his love interest, Christine Palmer (played by Rachel McAdams), to Nicodemus West (played by Michael Stuhlbarg), his sadness is overtly apparent. Yet, Cumberbatch maintains tight control over such feelings, refusing for them to overwhelm him. Furthermore, Gomez shines as the innocent young girl who experiences emotional turmoil as a result of experiencing multiple high-stakes fights. However, it’s Olsen’s performance as Wanda that steals the show: her presence in any scene is dominating, with her rage and intense grief over losing her children being conveyed to the audience perfectly. 

Nameek Chowdhury, Tanish Mendki

Despite the film’s many positives, there are a number of flaws still present at its core. The convoluted plot leads to a lack of strong pacing, with some scenes being rushed and others being drawn out. The constant shift between universes doesn’t allow for genuine character development, failing to make clear Strange’s sudden paternal responsibility for Gomez as both have a considerably short amount of time on screen together. 

However, despite the messiness of the film, the sheer entertainment value succeeds in keeping the audience engaged at all times. In the end, the score, visuals and actor performances are bound to keep you at the edge of your seat the whole way through. 

Rating 3.5/5

This story was originally published on El Estoque on May 13, 2022.