Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is maddening. Absolutely maddening. The beginning of the film is nearly impossible to understand. Thankfully, we get a much-needed explanation from Xochitl Gomez’s America Chavez about 20 minutes into the film. It’s not that Michael Waldron did something wrong with that particular scene, the Multiverse is just so complicated that it takes a while to get used to it.

Speaking of Michael Waldron, I found the story underwhelming. Coming out of Loki, I fully expected Waldron to exceed my expectations and more. However, it seemed like Waldron got lazy, or didn’t watch any of WandaVision. I just heard in an interview that Sam Raimi didn’t watch the series either, so I wouldn’t be surprised, sadly. Therefore, the acting is where the film shines.

Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) in Marvel Studios’ DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS. Photo Credit: Marvel Studios

Acting

Look, Benedict Cumberbatch may be the title star of the film, and he is amazing, but Elizabeth Olsen is the heart and soul of Multiverse. The core of this film is emotion. From the cameos to Wanda herself, this film relies and plays on emotion. It tells a story of a mother grieving for her children. What’s more real than that? Of course, she uses all this magic to get it, so not fully real. However, Olsen’s acting is A-list in that it’s not fake, or a trick. I was genuinely sitting there in the theater and thinking, “I feel really sad for her.”

Apart from Lizzie Olsen, who else stands out? Benedict Cumberbatch. He’s nowhere on the level of Olsen, no one is, but Cumberbatch really knows how to act opposite himself. When Strange encountered a variant of himself in the film, it didn’t seem like they were the same person. They genuinely seemed like different people, with different wants, different lives. Also, I love Wong so much, but won’t get into that, I’d ramble for years.

Directing

Sam Raimi, how do I get into this? He’s an amazing director, and was almost certainly the right choice for this film. There are some facets of his work that I can’t get into without revealing spoilers, but overall, he was a great choice to direct. The brilliant shot choices (one of them being the statue of Doctor Strange seen in the trailers) were incomparable. I haven’t seen stuff like that in a while, and only from the best. Raimi absolutely knocked it out of the park.

Wong (Benedict Wong) in Marvel Studios’ DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS. Photo Credit: Marvel Studios

Villain

Look, the story will be by far the most criticized thing in this film. Michael Waldron seemed to get lazy off of the success of Loki, and then just created a story where Wanda’s the villain. I might add, that’s not a bad thing, necessarily, but there’s no background for why Wanda has a change of heart. At the end of WandaVision, we see her reading the Darkhold, but she was peaceful in the middle of the mountains. Why would she suddenly turn evil?

The reason these change of heart villains exist is because the audience gets to go on the journey with the villain as they turn to the dark side. Take Revenge of the Sith, for example. We got to see how and why Anakin Skywalker turned into Darth Vader. In this film, we don’t get to see Wanda’s journey. We just get thrust into the middle of it all. If the Darkhold corrupted her, why don’t we see it?

Horror

I, like others, went into this film expecting full-on horror elements in the film. And, like many other elements of the film, Multiverse of Madness caught me completely off guard because it wasn’t what I expected at all. Expect a lot of Raimi-esque horror. Not full-on freaky stuff, but just enough to get you creeping out in your seat. And yes, there are jump-scares (they’re so good!).

Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) in Marvel Studios’ DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS. Photo Credit: Marvel Studios

Score

Danny Elfman, what to say, what to say? Good. Not great, not terrible, but just good. I didn’t notice his score for the most part, which I felt disappointed about. Although, during a huge fight scene in the third act involving two iterations of Doctor Strange and music notes, Elfman pushes through. I also enjoyed his end-credits music. But, why did he insert some of his Justice League music into this film?

Awards

This film has no chance at the Oscars, except for VFX. However, I don’t think anyone really cares, to be honest. Elizabeth Olsen will absolutely be nominated at the Critics Choice Awards, and will quite possibly win smaller awards and fan awards. Speaking of VFX though, outstanding job. The magic coming from Wanda didn’t look forged, or fake.

Conclusion

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness isn’t a perfect film, but it’s a tearing experience of what it means to be a mother. It’s an amazing Mother’s Day present by all means, Elizabeth Olsen carries this film by herself. Some things we didn’t get to: the cameos, the cinematography. See this film on the biggest screen possible, it’s worthy of a cinematic experience.

Let us know what you thought of the film by mentioning @ReviewedCinema on Twitter. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness arrives in theaters on May 6. Our spoiler review can also be found at https://cinemareviewed.com.

Overall Grade: A-

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