Dr Strange and the Multiverse Of madness

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Xochil Gomez, Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, and a lot of spoilers.

Directed By: Sam Raimi

Where I Watched It: Disney Plus

English Audio Description Available?: Yes

Description Provided By: Deluxe

Narrated By: Jedidiah Barton

The Plot: Serving as both a natural continuation of Dr. Strange’s storyline since we last saw him in No Way Home, and Wanda’s development since we last saw her in WandaVision, this horror film brings together two friends, and unfortunately makes them foes, as a new hero arises with the power to traverse the multiverse… of madness! Don’t worry, I’m trying not to spoil anything that’s an actual spoiler.

What Works: If anyone has ever heard me complain about a Marvel film, it almost always has to do with the villain. Usually, and actually far too often, Marvel films have shitty forgettable villains. Right now, without assistance, think of as many Marvel films as you can. Can you remember the villain from every film? By name? Or why they were the villain? If not, did you like that film? Chances are, no.

With the exception of maybe Whiplash in iron Man 2, who is memorable because he’s fairly well known, most of the movies people have issues with lack a sustainable villain. One of my biggest problems was that Mads mikkelson was front and center for the majority of Dr Strange as one of the most boring villains ever, instead of the much more dangerous Dormammu. Here, by following Wanda’s story arc, not only do we have a compelling villain, who we know exactly what she wants and why she’s doing this, but it’s also from a character who like Loki or Thanos was built up over multiple films. We like Wanda, and even when she’s doing awful things, at least half the audience is rooting for her. Going into this film, when I had no idea what the hell it was going to be, I just knew that Wanda was going to be in it. Then, immediately after WandaVision, my dream for her was to get her kids (and future Avengers) back. Well, that’s what she wants too. It’s just that Raimi went a different direction with it.

is this exactly the film I wanted? no. I’m surprised at the actual lack of cameo appearances. I expected us to see a lot more. The rumor mill was churning, even leading to a strong rumor about Tom Cruise playing Iron man in a multiverse. There are some cool characters in here you haven’t seen on camera before, but it really is limited to basically one universe, and one sequence. No other Avengers come to the assistance. no one else pops up. Hell, not even Vision or Quicksilver, which are huge missed opportunities. Raimi streamlined the hell out of this film, and while I might have made different choices, unlike some fans who can’t separate their expectations from what Raimi delivered, I enjoyed this version immensely, in spite of it being not what I thought it would be.

Raimi uses this multiverse of madness to explore his old stomping grounds of the horror genre to rather effective results. For a Marvel film, this is shockingly violent for a PG-13 film. I fear too many little ones were taken to a film where someone’s head explodes, someone is set on fire and their charred remains are left behind, someone is cut in half at the waist, and for lack of a better description… someone is “spaghettied” to death, if that’s a thing you could understand. Unwound? Oh, and zombies. Not to mention the monster creations, an eyeball being popped out, and a rather effective jump scare. This is old school Raimi, and in a weird way, an R rated cut of this film would have only allowed him to do more of what he’s here because of, gore. The reason you know his name isn’t because of Spider-Man, it’s because of the Evil dead franchise. And there are a lot of his old tropes he’s brought along with him, including a “book of the damned” and Bruce Campbell.

I was also surprised at how much of this film Rachel mcAdams is actually in. I assumed we were kind of done with this character, but the script found a way to keep Christine around. Also, we leap frog Mordo as a villain in our current timeline, and see a different version of him, which allowed character growth for his wizard without advancing the Mordo we actually know. The performances here are great, the casting in the surprise cameos is brilliant, and it all comes together.

I wish I could make more of a comment about America Chavez, but for the first time, I’ve been introduced to a character I didn’t even know existed until she was put in this film. I have no idea when she was introduced into the Marvel comics, or who she’s attached to. I can’t tell you if she’s comic-book accurate, or if they used her well enough for her fans to like her. I thought the actress (Gomez) who played her did a great job, but she honestly seems plucked from obscurity based on the need for her power set. There was an X-Men that opened portals, and was featured in Days of Future Past in the opening sequence where the X-Men are all murdered by Sentinels. I feel like she was chosen for her powers, and Ameria in this film was chosen for hers. I don’t know if or when we will see her again.

The big winner here is Elizabeth Olsen, who ends up stealing this Dr Strange movie, by continuing a character we’ve come to love, and connecting her to this continued sense of loss and grief that she’s been suffering for the duration of her time in the MCU. She’s seeking some kind of happy ending, but it seems like a dream she can never catch. Finally, here, she sees an opportunity to seize a way to reunite herself with her missing kids, but at what cost? And it’s that cost that Wanda is willing to pay just to get to her kids that keeps her relatable, and makes her the strongest villain since Thanos. no one wants her to die, or get killed by our hero like we normally do when presented with a villain we’ve never met, instead we’re invested in Wanda and her journey, and that is why you end up being so damn invested. The rest around it, it’s just making the thing look good. But if there is no story, no plot, no characters to latch to, even a pretty film can turn bad quickly.

So, yes, i quite enjoyed this. I think it’s one of the best Marvel films I’ve seen.

But my parting wish, if you have kids, is please take a moment to think about the content in this film and whether your kid is up for it. This is not the same Marvel your kid is used to. It’s more violent, and that violence is presented in a gorier way, not just where people get shot and somehow fall down to a bloodless death. Plus, watching some of these characters die that they’ve come to love, could be traumatic in and of itself.

The Blind Perspective: I’m a big fan of Jedidiah Barton, but I do have an interesting note about this audio description. This film is so visual, with so many action sequences at times, that the audio description track is so much more prominent over the top of the films soundtrack in a way that I felt like could have had better balancing/mixing. Some of the scenes feature audible shouts from characters, like exclamatory phrases, or shouts, screams, and other kids of noises people make during the fight, but those are so hard to hear because the audio description is so dominant. I bet we could have tweaked this a bit.

Final Thoughts: It may not have been the sequel I expected, but it’s the one I got, and i seemingly deserve. Enjoy Dr Strange. I did. More than the first.

Final Grade: A

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