Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness ★★★

Honestly, I'm just happy Sam Raimi is getting my money so he can keep making more movies.

I'm not sure what people were expecting as far as the balance between this being a Marvel production and an auteur-driven Sam Raimi project. This was always going to predominantly be another Marvel movie first. That said, by the time the last third pulls the movie together, Raimi's personal touch flourishes in 'Multiverse of Madness'.

One huge problem with this 'Doctor Strange' is its overreliance on exposition and the fact this story still has to end up in a specific place as is dictated by the MCU franchise vision board. So much context needs to be given to ground us within the fantastical and the movie ends up overdosing on its long-winded, badly-paced setup. Even when the story finally breathes and we get some character-driven scenes with Strange, Wanda, and America Chavez, they end up being pretty cliched although well-executed and acted enough to make us forgive the standard plotting.

The real star of 'Multiverse' is the excelled filmmaking of Raimi and Crew surrounding the product. We get to experience a fair amount of memorable creative imagery (that music note sequence, man), a delicious serving of Raimi's over-the-top comic horror, practical makeup jobs and zany sound design included; a solid score by Danny Elfman, a handful of fleeting but surprisingly fun cameos (Patrick Stewart is forklift certified!), and Elizabeth Olsen is delightfully unhinged and committed to her genocide run of the many universes.

'Multiverse of Madness' overall is a kind of standard MCU outing that's disappointing considering Sam Raimi's true potential, but there's still quite a bit that I truly enjoyed here. There are shades of an unrestrained superhero horror flick lurking alongside the high-pitched mischievous demons, an existential character study that could've been more impactful with more time and mental elbow grease, and even a high-spirited old-school Marvel adventure straight out of the '60s comics at some points.

This wasn't the pure Sam Raimi joint we were wishfully thinking, but if this makes a ton of cash, that possibility may not be fruitless after all. James Wan got his chance from 'Aquaman' to 'Malignant', I'm just saying. Here's hoping a studio funds his next gonzo horror passion project sooner rather than later, my dudes.

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