KeatonTarantino’s review published on Letterboxd:
Having now seen the movie twice, I still can’t really pinpoint exactly how I feel about Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. There’s definitely a lot to like, but I think I’d still have to call it middle-tier in the grand scheme of the whole MCU.
I was very excited when I heard Sam Raimi would be directing this one, and in that regard it did not disappoint. With his background of both the Spider-Man trilogy and also the Evil Dead trilogy, he was a perfect choice for such a horror-driven superhero movie. Many of the action sequences in this, particularly one involving a one-eyed monster very early in the film, were super reminiscent of his work on the Spider-Man movies.
For the most part, I liked that the film twisted into something scarier as it progressed. The MCU has recently been attempting more and more sub-genres to pair with its superhero aesthetic, but I was surprised to find that horror actually kinda worked. And not that I’m complaining, but the violence was much less restrained than we’re used to seeing in these kinds of movies. Some of those kills were nasty.
It’s not like you go to these movies for the acting, but I will say the performances actually weren’t bad at all. Every movie with Doctor Strange makes me like Benedict Cumberbatch as the character more. Elizabeth Olsen was also great as Wanda Maximoff. She may have had some questionable turns in her character arc (not getting into; spoilers), but as far as her acting goes I was left impressed.
Most of the other “general craftsmanship” stuff was fine too. For one, Marvel continues to raise the bar with their visual effects game. I know they’re often criticized for being “all CGI and no substance” or whatever, and while that’s a fair argument, credit where credit is due; the CGI was amazing. The sound was very good too, contributing greatly to the action and horror elements, although it was Danny Elfman’s score that really won my attention. It’s nothing short of awesome to see him reunited with Sam Raimi again.
Clearly, piece-by-piece the movie was well-handled. There’s hardly any one specific thing not to like. However, as much as I appreciated most of the creative decisions, something intangible about it just doesn’t sit right with me. The movie’s kind of a black sheep in the MCU for being both large scale and small scale at the same time. It has portals, magic and multiverses, so nothing about it is grounded. That said, the story was very simple and straightforward, so much that I wonder how much this one will even matter, moving forward. I have no problem with Marvel trying new things (let’s be real, they could use it), but it’s quite difficult to categorize for being so radically separate from the others.
Aside from some unconventional story directions and one strange character arc (again, no spoilers), I still really enjoyed Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. To put it simply, I was surprised yet satisfied, and impressed but not blown away.