I remember when this was teased as a scary and highly ambitious horror superhero film with Doctor Strange and Wanda. Remember?
Good times, back in 2019, before all the stuff that went on in these past few years. Having seen the film a few hours ago, I am utterly disappointed.
This entry in the MCU has severe issues that are built on a weak story, weak (and badly written) villain, a short runtime, and underused potential.
First thing I’ll say: annihilate your expectations. You are not getting any surprises that aren’t teased in the trailers. The trailers showed too much of the film, actually. And to be honest with you, if I went in blind without watching any promotional materials and read anything stated by Marvel about this movie, and if the theater was calmer... I would've enjoyed it a lot more. But regardless, I would've been underwhelmed by many things. But, in the end the film does make up for this in the straight-forward and refreshing approach that makes it different from all other Marvel films, and my gripe remains with its stupid writing decisions, plot conveniences, and untapped potential.
For something called “In the Multiverse of Madness”, it’s pretty chill. There is one mad sequence that was nearly entirely shown in the trailers and that’s it. I wish Marvel did not hype up this film or even allow this kind of reputation to their product.
Let me talk about Sam Raimi, most known for The Evil Dead, Evil Dead II, the original Spider-Man trilogy, and a weird superhero movie called Darkman (very cool film). He managed to extract a lot from a weak script. And he extracted too much. His filmmaking style was noticeable and certainly improved the film but it was too excessive and overly used. You can even feel how “thrown in” many of his techniques are and that took me out of the experience – not to mention the very annoying hoard of disrespectful children in the theater. His experimentation with lenses, angles, and camera movement was nice to watch in a Marvel film yet I could not help but feel how out of place many of them were. The horror in this film was a nice touch and Raimi pulled off some decent stuff. And the gore and brutality were excellent… but how I wish he had a different and crazier script to work with. The man has so much talent that he overuses in this mediocre story and what we end up getting is a film that is more style over substance. The action was pretty cool and magical. *some sequences and shots may be too scary for children under 7-10 years old - there are blood, gore, and deformities that may be too much for children.
I hated the first 45 minutes of the movie and I even consider them nearly unwatchable. They are badly chaotic, choking on themselves, and moving too fast. This film needed more room to breathe and establish itself and the 126-minute runtime was of no help. As the film progressed, I enjoyed it better. I simultaneously loved and hated something that they did in the second act – involving a parallel universe and "bad handling of certain spoilers". The third act was mainly underwhelming. And Marvel needs to get over the I-met-a-different-version-of-myself-and-it-fixed-me trope. They used it in almost all of their Disney+ shows and it’s already exhausted. Multiverse of Madness used the Multiverse better than No Way Home did – which gets worse the more I think about it as a movie – but alike other story elements, they did not extract its full potential.
I felt like they were afraid to fully focus on Strange. He has decent character development and some cool powers are shown, and so on. They need a film that explores more of Strange’s magic and other villains, and his world instead of being mixed up in other characters’ stories. It seems like the creative team was afraid of giving him more time that was sacrificed on the lackluster villain of this story. The villain was just horrible with a terrible motive that they over-explained. A better villain should’ve been chosen. The other characters in the film were not bad. Wanda… Wanda… Wanda, how have you fallen. She was my favorite MCU character second to Iron Man and after WandaVision, I no longer cared about her. And here, the same issues I had with her character in WandaVision have been expanded in this film and ruined her character. Now she does some crazy and bonkers things that will be memorable. Wong is cool, I love Wong. America Chavez is a walking-talking macguffin. She could’ve been replaced with a necklace or something, but the redeeming factor is the actress who was likable. There are some really cool cameos that I will not mention, of course.
Some of the dialogue did not work but the humor wasn’t all too bad as in other Marvel films.
The Danny Elfman score was horrible. The guy made some cool music until the early 2000s and then dipped. The visual effects were better than in many other Marvel films. The colors were too saturated for this story.
Compared to its predecessor, this one is probably more watchable if you are looking for cool visuals, action, rapidly-moving story, and decent entertainment. But the better film is Doctor Strange (2016).
Ultimately, Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness was an interesting departure from the usual offerings of Marvel films that tripped on not giving in to its concepts and potential.
My cousin, who watched the film with me, described the film in the shortest and best way possible: a Rick and Morty episode, and this is adequate (although I have only watched a couple of Rick and Morty episodes).
Oh, and for Raimy hardcores: Bruce Campbell’s cameo is hilarious.
*the last post-credits scene is insane!