Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

9th May 2022

Words: Shane Ramdhany

Sam Raimi’s 2 hour spectacle is a symphony of spells, time travel, and epic sequences that transform this film from typical Marvel fare to surreal visual wonder.  It is a film that entrances the viewer with its dreamscapes which are simultaneously nightmarish and endearing.  It effectively evades formulaic Marvel tropes and is more often evocative of Jackson Pollock, laden with vibrant splashes from one sequence to the next.  This concept sometimes pivots from unique attribute to a troubling ailment as the film buckles under the weight of its visual flair.

In the latest Marvel episode, we see Dr. Strange contend with the fallout from Spider-Man No Way Home as he grapples with the concepts of the Multi-Verse.  The story then departs in unexpected directions, which effectively serve to enhance viewer engagement as it generates one suspenseful sequence after another.  Dr. Strange is also provided with ample opportunity to orchestrate ballads of spells that both mesmerize and thrill.  One particular spell involving musical notes and stanzas emphasizes Raimi’s limitless creativity as a juggernaut of cinema. Wanda Maximoff plays a significant role as well, eliciting no shortage of hexes and witchcraft of her own.  This film effectively depicts the natural consequences from her story arc in the Infinity Saga and WandaVision.  Her character is taken in a direction that most often feels inevitable rather than incomprehensible.

Raimi’s persistent infusion of a seemingly infinite palette of color and panache inevitably trembles under its gratuity.  At times, it is difficult to differentiate between a feeling of awe and that of exasperation as these sequences permeate the viewers’ lens.  One can almost sense Raimi’s overindulgences of eye candy as a consequence of creative freedom transformed into a cinematic playground. It is at its best a captivating firework display and at its worst a bloated, excessively illuminated exhibition.  Its dialogue parallels this concept of a juxtaposition within its visual display as well.  Dialogue pivots from sincerity and emotion to clichéd and jarring.  This results in sequences that inconsistently foster connection with its audience.

As the film constructs its epic tale with all of these elements combined, it results in a mostly satisfying endeavor for Marvel fans.  However, you will likely leave with a feeling of excitement paralleled with exhaustion as well as yearn for deeper verbal discourse that evolves its characters rather than inhibits them.  

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