Dr. Strange movie review

"Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" showcases the Dr. Strange illusion effects.

In the last Marvel movie, the timeline left off with Doctor Strange tinkering with the Multiverse, which wasn’t a good idea on his part. That issue’s now escalated into “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.”

After messing up a powerful and forbidden spell in “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) has caused rifts in the Multiverse. Now, he teams up with a teenager from an alternate dimension, America Chavez (Xochiti Gomez), to figure everything out and stop Wanda Maximoff, also known as the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), from making things worse.

The writers do a nice job making this an introduction to the concept of the Multiverse; it was psychedelic and realistic. Strange’s iconic theme is the incorporation of illusion and dimensions, which is a necessity for a Doctor Strange movie. The writers do a good job expanding on this concept, so they had no problem making it feel like a Doctor Strange sequel.

This movie was actually different from previous Marvel movies. It had more of a dark twist to it that other films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) don’t. When the movie was first announced, Marvel called it its first horror film for the MCU. This film was directed by Sam Raimi; he was the director for the “Spider-Man” films starring Tobey Maguire, so it wasn’t the first Marvel movie he’s worked on. Along with the “Spider-Man” movies, Raimi has a record of directing thriller and horror films like “Evil Dead.” Since he has the mindset of a thriller-based director, he truly delivered that horror aspect but was able to keep it in the PG-13 realm. If this film was for the Infinity Saga and was leaning more toward the intergalactic theme like previous MCU films, horror wouldn’t be a component that would be compatible. Since it’s a whole new subject and is a Doctor Strange movie, the concept of eeriness and thriller actually did work.

An exciting part of this film is the introduction of a new Marvel character: America Chavez, a teenager with the power to travel across the Multiverse to different realities. Her only downfall is that she doesn’t know how to control it. In the comics, Chavez has superhuman strength, durability, endurance and has the ability to fly. The comics also have her as one of the heroes who’s capable of traveling through different universes. Since this film is about the Multiverse and the concept of cross-dimensional travel, that’s the only power they give Chavez. It’s a little disappointing because this is a character who viewers have never met, so it would’ve been nice if the writers didn’t just scrape the surface with her.

Another interesting component is how much the movie connects to the Disney+ Marvel shows, specifically “WandaVision'' and “What If…?” The writers probably chose to do that as a way to make people watch these shows, but it would be confusing for those who’ve never seen either one. It felt a little unfair to that group of viewers because they’d just sit in their seats confused, but it’s also fun for those who’ve watched them because it’s being transferred onto the big screen. It wasn’t completely focused on those shows, but they do incorporate some elements.

The big downfall of the “WandaVision” connection is that the film seems like an epilogue to the limited series. Marvel has done movies where the title features the name of a specific hero, has them interact with other Marvel heroes and still keeps the focus on who that movie is named after, like “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” This film follows Doctor Strange on his journey, but the storyline revolves around Wanda and what she’s going through. The writers focus a lot more on her struggles than on Doctor Strange and the challenges he’s facing. It definitely was an interesting concept, but it felt as if Wanda overpowers Strange in his own film.

“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” helps set the scene for some upcoming MCU projects. It does a great job carrying the title of Marvel’s first horror film and captivates the Dr. Strange illusion effects, but has its low points here and there.

Contact Gracie Brogowski at brogowsx@dukes.jmu.edu. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter and Instagram @Breeze_Culture