The film is directed by Sam Raimi, who has his own Spidey ties, and has roots going back to Strange’s journey from the original, as well as the two-part Avengers fight against Thanos. “It made the only play we have,” Strange says, by explaining the toll of a photogenic that has left people in limbo for five years.
The film features one major addition in the form of a teenage girl (Xochitl Gomez from “The Baby-Sitters Club”) who has the ability to open doors in the multiverse. This force draws Strange into a frantic race to save not only our universe but others as well.
At its best, the “Multiverse of Madness” explodes with psychedelic energy. It can be dark and demanding, but you can still explore Marvel Legends’ quarters that are clearly designed to make fans scream and shout. One sequence in particular is worth the price of admission to watch with an audience, in a wonderful bend to the tools now at the studio’s disposal.
On the flip side, there’s an unavoidable mess of ego navigating the entire universe, in a way that seems to be inventing rules on the spot, or is too cute for their own good. Sure, the narrative moves at a fast pace that’s easy to roll with though, but movie-goers needn’t apologize for feeling lost in places.
Technically, Raimi provided a visually stunning workout, bolstered by composer Danny Elfman’s stunning score (which, at one point, was imaginatively woven into motion). And it shouldn’t be overlooked what Cumberbatch and Olsen’s caliber actors bring to central roles in terms of intelligence and humanity, helping to solidify all this extravagant chaos in vulnerability and emotion.
All in all, Doctor Strange has proven himself capable of meeting this formidable challenge. However, it’s possible to enjoy the movie widely and still get a little frustrated with the multiverse – feeling as if it’s intermittently guilty of putting so much style into “madness.”
“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” will be released in the United States on May 6. It is rated PG-13.
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