Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness ★★★

It takes awhile, but eventually it becomes quite clear that Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is directed by Sam Raimi. No stranger to comic-book properties, Raimi offered the first (and best) take on Spider-Man in 2002. Darkman, which came out in 1990, was a Raimi invention that combined superhero tropes with those of Universal horror classics. Before that, Raimi made his name with a pair of horror films (The Evil Dead, Evil Dead II), which brings us all the way back to Multiverse. This is largely an obligatory Marvel Cinematic Universe installment until it becomes possessed, quite literally, by a horrific spirit. To detail exactly how would give too much away, but suffice it to say there are bloody nods to Carrie, skeletal evocations of the stop-motion work of Ray Harryhausen, and a zombie twist that delighted me far more than the handful of reveals about future MCU products. It’s macabre, marvelous stuff that ironically injects some life into the proceedings. Assigned to this entry are Benedict Cumberbatch, of course, playing multiple Stranges given the multiverse plotline; Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff (familiarity with the MCU streaming series WandaVision will be helpful in connecting with her maternal motivations here); and newcomer Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez, a teen with multiverse-hopping powers.

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