After the events of Spider-Man: No Way Home, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has a pretty big order to deliver with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which is the first solo outing for Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange since his first film came out in 2016. I loved Doctor Strange and was really looking forward to Multiverse of Madness, especially with director Sam Raimi filling in for Scott Derrickson, who left the project due to creative differences. With the madness on display, it seems that Raimi was a perfect choice to direct Multiverse of Madness as it boasts some of the elements of his previous films, along with the style and flair that the Evil Dead/Spider-Man director has been known to incorporate in his work.
Multiverse of Madness has the typical action and humor of an MCU film, yet what separates it from the rest of the outings is how close it comes to being a horror film; some of it pushing the boundaries of a PG-13 film. I have heard a few people say that it was a bad idea to take their younger kids and that an R-rating would have suited it better, though I feel it does fit the bill for a PG-13. Raimi has been known to step through those boundaries before with the 2009 film Drag Me to Hell and its gaggle of scares and gore on display. Multiverse of Madness does have the gore and body horror that may be a bit much for the youngest of audiences, though older kids will no doubt enjoy the thrills throughout. To its credit, everything about Multiverse of Madness is pure Raimi.
The story is a bit of a mess as we see Strange go through an adventure that spans across the multiverse, meeting different versions of himself, and having run-ins with different characters, accompanied by Wong (Benedict Wong), and America Chavez (Xochitil Gomez), who plays a major part of this story. While Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Baron Mordo and Rachel McAdams’ Dr. Christine Palmer show up to interact with Strange on his journey. Multiverse of Madness also sees the return of Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff still plagued by the events of WandaVision as she goes on a bit of a journey of her own, in a performance that borders between tragic and terrifying albeit campy enough for a Raimi film.
I could talk about the things scattered throughout Multiverse of Madness if not for the fact that it could lead into spoiler territory, but for a movie set in the MCU, it sure feels more in line with Raimi’s Evil Dead trilogy and Drag Me to Hell with the way it carries itself. Do I dare talk about whether one would enjoy Multiverse of Madness or let one experience the madness for themselves. As far as my enjoyment, I felt Multiverse of Madness had potential to outdo the first Doctor Strange, though I prefer Derrickson’s approach to Raimi’s follow-up. Multiverse of Madness uses some of the tricks to its advantage while holding out on whatever opportunity it may have had to thrive as a fully fleshed-out Multiverse of Madness. Still, Multiverse of Madness is a trip and a testament to what Raimi is capable of. What a trip it is!