‘Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ lives up to its name with chaotic horror


Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange in “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.”

Editor’s note: This review contains minor spoilers for “Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.”

Are you happy? I won’t know the answer to that question, obviously, because you’re on the other side of this screen. But is Dr. Strange happy? I still don’t know, even though he was asked that question about seven times during “Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.”

“Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” took a different tone from other Marvel movies, as it had more of a dark, twisted feel to it, courtesy of director Sam Raimi. There were quite a few jump scares and plenty of unsetting special effects. The eeriness of the movie kept me entranced, but it wasn’t just the nature of the film that added to the uncertainty and unsettling feel of the movie. The plot was quite chaotic at times, introducing new multiverse concepts and characters. The movie had a heavy influence from the “What If…” series on Disney+ which made me hopeful for a Loki cameo to tie in the TVA plot from the “Loki” series. Unfortunately, this did not happen.

There were many moments I found myself shocked, especially due to the sudden and harsh deaths of some of the characters throughout the film. The movie was too fast paced to process the introduction of certain characters before they were killed off. One scene in particular introduced unexpected characters which accounted for most of the whooping and cheering in the theater; after merely five minutes, they were brutally slaughtered. Rather than giving time to process their tumultuous arrival, and then their unsetting deaths, the film just kept going.

The unsettling vibe of the movie was not the only thing different for Marvel, however. The concept of an “evil” Avenger was incredibly executed by Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch. Her demeanor is terrifying throughout the movie, but you can also feel her pain after what happened in Westview during “WandaVision” as she fights to be with her sons again, but just can’t face the reality that they aren’t real. She truly shines in this film and is one of, if not the, best parts of the film.

Wanda’s reality (or lack thereof) without her kids adds a layer of humanization to her character. Marvel also attempts to humanize Dr. Strange with constant reminders of his lack of a relationship with Christine, even opening the movie with him attending her wedding to another man. The constant reminder that she had moved on from him felt unnecessary at times. There were other cliché moments as the characters ran from Scarlet Witch throughout the film that made me frustrated. These unnecessary moments took time away from the story line as a whole, which felt somewhat unfitting at times for the weight of the film’s core conflict.

The ending of the film resolved the problem more or less, which I felt was unfitting for the feel of the movie as well. I would have rather that everything that went completely wrong during the film left off on a cliffhanger, like in “Avengers: Infinity War.” The post credits scene was unexpected but tied the film to the original comics,  many people have reasoned that the film’s darker feel more directly matches that of the comics as well. “Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” didn’t feel like a regular Marvel movie with the way it was executed which makes me appreciate it. The dark and horror-like feel to the film was an interesting concept, which is something I hope returns for future films. However, I would have appreciated more connection plot-wise to the MCU.

Grade: A-