Tripwire Reviews Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness

Sorceror Full Of Secrets

Tripwire’s contributing writer Laurence Boyce takes a look at Marvel’s Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness out in UK cinemas now…

Doctor Strange in The Multiverse of Madness
Director: Sam Raimi
Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Xochitl Gomez, Elizabeth Olson, Rachel McAdams

NB: This is a spoiler free review

2016’s Doctor Strange leaned heavily into the comic book origins of its titular hero, with an aesthetic style that echoed the hallmarks of Steve Ditko.  With his second standalone film coming with the title of Multiverse of Madness, it would seem that we’d be in for more of the same, with psychedelic visuals and time-looping insanity galore . But with Sam Raimi at the helm, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness sees the Marvel Cinematic Universe take a tentative step into the world of horror. What results is one of the more emotionally dark and dour yet striking entries in to the MCU.

Another day, another giant octopus monster for Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to fight. Amidst this incursion of evil calamari, Strange discovers youngster America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) and her power to jump between alternate universes. It soon becomes clear that she is being pursued across the Multiverse by an unknown antagonist who wants to take her power for equally unknown reasons. While she initially distrusts Strange – with some of his alternate universe counterparts proving to be less than trustworthy – she soon finds she has no choice but to rely on him as the odds are stacked against her. Knowing that he can’t fight this multi-dimensional menace alone, Strange turns to the only other supernatural being he knows who can play with the plains of reality – namely Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olson), now fully embracing her Scarlet Witch alter-ego. Soon Strange and his allies find themselves traversing various different realities, on the run from their powerful enemy and finding universes in which alternate versions of familiar faces – and some brand new ones – might be able to help their plight. But as Strange struggles to protect Chavez, an encounter with an alternate version of his former love Christine (Rachel McAdams) has him questioning whether his own happiness exists amongst the sacrifices he has made to keep the universe intact.

While Raimi may have been partly responsible for the renaissance of the comic book film thanks to 2002’s Spider-Man, here he reaches into his horror bag of tricks for much of the film. Rather than rely on the usual clean lines and sleek aesthetics of superheroes and supervillains engaging in balletic fight sequences, there’s a visceral and hard edge to everything. With reconstituted corpses, demons from the pits of Hell and the aforementioned eight-legged abominations alongside traditional horror tropes such as jump scares, this definitely sits on the edge on what would be considered acceptable for a film that is ostensibly aimed at kids.

Certainly the film dispenses with much of the wisecrackery that sits at the heart of many of the MCU films and is perhaps one of the most emotionally ‘heavy’ MCU films since Avengers: Infinity War. With the multiverse concept, the film can indulge itself in a certain amount of narrative and aesthetic carnage safe in the knowledge that characters from other universes don’t necessarily ‘count’. Of course it slightly cheapens any resultant emotional payoffs but – aside from one or two exceptions – audiences have been pretty much taught that death in any comic universe is often only a temporary setback.

Yet, for all its dark tone, there is still a great deal of pure fun to be had throughout. Raimi stages some impressive set pieces – a ‘musical’ fight featuring two versions of Strange, a face-off between the mysterious Illuminati and the film’s villain – and plunders his own back catalogue as well as many other popular culture touchstones. Bits of The Evil Dead (Raimi still loves a canted angle), smatterings of Carrie, a soupcon of Star Wars are all blended together. Normally this would result in a derivative and disjointed affair, but Raimi channels everything through the prism of his unique vision and the slight patchwork approach seems somewhat apropos in a film that deals with a multiverse.

The multiverse concept has led to much fan speculation, and many will expect debuts of comic favourites galore, Hollwyood stars in numerous cameos and the entire cast of Bagpuss. Needless to say the self-made hype will only lead to disappointment. While there are certainly one or two surprises one the way, this is one of the more self-contained pieces of work within the MCU. While a working knowledge of Disney+ show Wandavision will certainly help viewers, those coming into things narratively cold will probably follow along quite nicely. The film is centred less around the grandiose threats to the universe (though they are certainly present throughout) and more on an introspective treatise on how both sacrifice, grief and power can manifest themselves in different ways. Indeed, while there is plenty here to set up future MCU instalments, it feels one of the more cohesive and self-contained entries into the MCU.

The cast are all game. After being pretty much an MCU constant over the past few films, Cumberbatch does a fine job of flitting between bluster, arrogance and introspection when he has to carry the entire film. He’s clearly comfortable in holding the reigns of action movie and delivers both emotional and physical heft with his performance. Olsen is also great, the events of Wandavision still playing upon her mind and she provides many of the film’s more interesting moments while newcomer Gomez straddles the line between scared girl and being with unimaginable power quite well. McAdams is perhaps a little less well served, but there’s still an easy chemistry between her and Cumberbatch and she does often act as the film’s emotional lynchpin. And Benedict Wong is brilliant as always because he’s Benedict Wong.

In an alternate universe, original director Scott Derrickson didn’t have ‘creative differences’ with Disney and audiences are most likely experiencing a very different version of the second standalone Doctor Strange movie. The one we have is perhaps not the one we were expecting, but it manages to entertain – and slightly scare – just the same. Even when under the auspices of corporate overlords it must be said the Disney are at least giving every MCU movie the chance to have something unique about them and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse Of Madness does feel somewhat different.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse Of Madness is out in UK cinemas now. Here’s the trailer for the film

The post Tripwire Reviews Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness appeared first on TRIPWIRE MAGAZINE.

Sorceror Full Of Secrets Tripwire’s contributing writer Laurence Boyce takes a look at Marvel’s Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness out in UK cinemas now… Doctor Strange in The Multiverse of Madness Director: Sam Raimi Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Xochitl Gomez, Elizabeth Olson, Rachel McAdams NB: This is a spoiler free review 2016’s Doctor Strange
The post Tripwire Reviews Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness appeared first on TRIPWIRE MAGAZINE.Read MoreTRIPWIRE MAGAZINE

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