This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Carol Grant’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
"That's what the Matrix does. It weaponizes every idea. Every dream. Everything that's important to us."
Fear not, mortals, for my galactic wizard brain has solved the bewitching Ship of Theseus conundrum of whether or not Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a Raimi movie or an MCU movie. The boring answer is it's both. The less boring one is that it's both but not for the reasons we all think.
Indeed, Raimi manages to sneak in a lot of his favorite stylistic and thematic flourishes into the MCU feed-machine, from first-person shots, to shockingly-gruesome-for-a-PG-13-rating kills, to even a slew of demons with silly voices straight out of The Evil Dead. But it is also very much a Marvel script, rife with the labrat electrodes pumped from seeing a character from another franchise acquired by the Disney-Fox merger, played by an actor who's been memed into the role who looks as papery and lifeless as the homeless-feeding paycheck he got for it.
Yet this is no mere uncanny valley of the human and artificial crashing together to make an awkward, messy offspring. Nor is it a haphazard Frankenstein stitching together of these two distinct tastes not quite mixing. The Raimi stuff does manage to feel a little bit rebellious, in that it is endlessly amusing to think that he got to express his potential distaste for the content machine's unsavory elements. The treacly psych-101 therapizing of fanfavorite WandaVision has its gross, moral rot exposed by making its hero a corrupted horror movie villain. The extensive multiverse cameos are systematically murdered in hilariously gruesome ways that stretch the limits of the PG-13 rating and probably made Disney's conservative figureheads flinch and balk at the idea of putting it out there.
But at the end of the day, Marvel got to invoke the 1997 X-Men cartoon theme into Patrick Stewart-as-Professor X's entrance and make salivating diehards applaud at the electrode rush.
And this is in no way insinuating that I am better than them, for I too got my electrode rush from seeing Raimi temporarily zombify his hero as a reminder that, yes, the director of Evil Dead still has the reins. Like Mac in Always Sunny, Disney and Feige are playing both sides so that they always come out on top.
In the end, it's not that Raimi got to make a very Raimi MCU movie. It's that Disney was so kind, so generous, to let a director whose very films they've belittled in their own products, get to play in the kitchen to offer us crumbs of his talent. And while I was initially grateful for the crumbs I've gotten, eventually we'll have to look at our oh so generous crumb distributors and ask,
Where's my fucking meal?