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Sam Raimi Is Back With Great Power For ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ – Review

By Angel Amaral

We are no longer in the endgame, we are in the Marvel Cinematic multiverse now. As Peter Parker says in Spider-Man 3, “THIS IS SOMETHING ELSE!” Master filmmaker Sam Raimi returns to the comic book movie genre—13 years since Spider-Man 3—to grace the screen with another Marvel icon.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness unlocks the multiverse and ventures into the unknown. The desecration of reality ensues and with the aid of new and old allies, they confront a dangerous new villain. This is a Sam Raimi movie through and through. His fingerprints are all over each frame leaving marks of horror, vibrant colors, over-the-top slapstick, and most importantly, heart. It’s an out-of-body comic book movie experience. An auteur is given full control and I love Marvel Studios for offering that creative freedom. Utilizing all his skills as a master filmmaker, Sam Raimi is back with great power as he redefines the very boundaries of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) with the master of the mystic arts.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange in Marvel Studios’ DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS. (Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2022. All Rights Reserved.)

Speaking of power, I have to mention the powerful on-screen presence of MCU newcomer Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez. She will instantly be a fan favorite. Not only are her dimensional traveling powers exciting, but her dramatic and comedic qualities fit within the Marvel mould perfectly. She’s a survivor and one of several fantastic characters in this story. She’s a star with shining individuality and Raimi uses compelling visual storytelling to reveal her emotional backstory. Also being Mexican, it brought an enormous amount of joy to witness a Mexican superhero speaking Spanish on the big screen and being embraced by an entire crowd of so many different backgrounds. I felt seen and even more connected on a personal level to a universe that I love so much. Additionally, there’s LGBTQ+ representation, which I admire because the more we normalize this through our media, especially media that gets global exposure, the closer we get to true equality and empathy for others. I know those few seconds of screen time are going to mean the world to many people. Hearing the reaction from audience members in my screening connecting with that scene uplifted my experience even more.

As I mentioned before, they let Raimi make a Sam Raimi film. Raimi’s stunning visuals and style reinvigorate the typical MCU movie. His signature trademarks involve a blend of horror and comedy, quick cuts, extreme close-ups, tilted cameras, and match cuts. Combine these techniques with violence, wackiness, jump scares, heroism, and comic book source material, and you get an exclusive peek inside the chaotic mind of Raimi. As an Evil Dead, Spider-Man, and Doctor Strange fan, I ate this up. I expected nothing less from one of the masters of the comic book movie genre.

Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez in Marvel Studios’ DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS. (Photo by Jay Maidment. ©Marvel Studios 2022. All Rights Reserved.)

Raimi’s Spider-Man films are the reason why I fell in love with cinema, so I’m ecstatic to see him succeed here. I’ve been dying to see him play in the MCU’s sandbox since its inception and I don’t think I was the only one. Kevin Feige, Marvel Studios President and Producer, has to be the smartest man alive in the world of producers if he was responsible for hiring Raimi. Not only that but putting together a team that brought to fruition one of the most popular fan castings of all time. It shows that they listen to their fans and deeply care about following through on demands if it best serves the story they are telling. Without spoiling anything, the cameos are jaw-dropping. There’s a musical cue in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, thanks to Danny Elfman, that made our theater lose its mind. The future of the MCU is extremely bright!

Beyond the cameos, at its core, it is a story that furthers the character arc of Doctor Strange sacrificing his selfish desires for the greater good. A hidden truth about Strange is unsealed, which gives us more insight into why he fears having the powers of a god. Like previous Raimi movies, this story explores the heart and soul of the protagonist by discovering what makes them happy and what is their purpose. Can saving the world solely get you there? Are our tribulations the end of the world? Why are we here? Do we have to go through our problems alone? These are all existential dilemmas that are examined in the original Spider-Man trilogy and are prevalent in our real world. Raimi understands comics and why we can identify with these heroes. Strange and Spider-Man are identifiable as human beings that face their fears and sacrifice everything they love in order to do the right thing. Benedict Cumberbatch proves again he is perfect casting as he embodies the titular character. Also, Benedict Wong is a beast as the Sorcerer Supreme! Every time he appeared I couldn’t help but cheer.

Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez, Benedict Wong as Wong, and Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange/Stephen Strange
Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez, Benedict Wong as Wong, and Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange/Stephen Strange in Marvel Studios’ DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS. (Photo by Jay Maidment. ©Marvel Studios 2022. All Rights Reserved.)

Furthermore, Elizabeth Olsen is an absolute rockstar as The Scarlet Witch and is scary good in the role. She delivers an unforgettable performance that showcases her versatile range. From tear-jerking scenes to sending chills down my spine, she was continuously controlling my emotions. This was a natural growth for her character coming off of the WandaVision series. She’s full of wrath and unimaginable power. I felt like I was witnessing a live-action double splash page from a comic book anytime she showcased her witchcraft.

However, there are some story element choices that had me conflicted. There were interesting directions that got completely severed or left without resolution. Other significant characters felt heavily undermined in a plot that involves the multiverse, which I feel will be the most controversial part of the film among comic book fans. The trailers showed too much from each act, therefore I pieced it all together very easily, leaving little surprise or no shock value at all. Also, the visual effects could have been polished more. It just goes to show how impressive the visual effects hold up for the first Spider-Man movie, which debuted 20 years ago today.

Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff in Marvel Studios’ DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS. (Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2022. All Rights Reserved.)

Ultimately, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a return to form for Raimi. I’m grateful when my favorite directors get involved with these kinds of franchises because they can be life-changing. This movie is really about learning to let go of our strong attachments and understanding that we’ll be okay as long as we accept that our loved ones will be loved with or without us. There are things in life we can and cannot control. The things we cannot control are usually considered problems or bad luck, which can make us unhappy. Maybe to be happy we have to be grateful for these tribulations because we’ll eventually get through them and we don’t have to do it alone. Simply being there for others, whether it’s listening or helping as a friend, can make us heroes. That’s what Raimi taught me 20 years ago and that’s what he reminded me of again: “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Additional lessons in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness: Just because someone stumbles and falls, it doesn’t mean they are lost forever. Every woman makes children with magic. Trust yourself and your power to do the right thing. Even mistakes can lead you to good moments.

Rating: 9/10

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