Release Date 06May2022
DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS -or- DR STRANGE 2: ESOTERIC BOOGALOO *AKA* The MCU ain't samey with Sam Raimi.
I liked IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS. It was very good - not great, but very good.
This sequel to 2016's DOCTOR STRANGE, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the titular sorcerer, is based on Marvel comic's Doctor Strange. Created by STEVE DITKO and introduced in the July 1963 edition of STRANGE TALES #110, this "Sorcerer Supreme" (a former top surgeon and blue ribbon asshole) defends the earth from various supernatural threats.
Originally the director of the first film (SCOTT DERRICKSON) was to have helmed this one, but it was not to be ("Creative differences" - that chestnut...), and SAM RAIMI (of EVIL DEAD, DARKMAN, and OG SPIDERMAN fame) was brought to the helm.
It was the right move.
The playfulness, inventiveness, and kineticism that is a hallmark of Mr. Raimi's creative output - from 1978 on, is on full display. It is frankly, why this film works.
Sure, the story about Dr. Strange protecting a unique young woman, with unique and uncontrollable powers, from a threat to the multiverse is kind of interesting - but boilerplate MCU stuff. Sure, the actors do a fine job, a stand out being ELIZABETH OLSEN as a genuinely creepy, and proper SCARLET WITCH. Sure, the FX, the sound, the show design - all the technicals are top notch (a scant few iffy bits). Sure, there are some interesting narrative developments and Easter eggs.
Sam "MF'n" Raimi - his distinctive talents, IS the MF'n show.
The MCU, in order to continue, needs to shake things up. Kevin Feige knows this, and has started bringing in directors with distinctive voices (Like TAIKA WAITITI and JAMES GUNN) to shake things up. At best, you get a fun, weird mashup of old and new. At worst, you get a turgid shit-biscuit like THE ETERNALS that's like dropping hot prunes in your morning Fiber One…
When Raimi gets to "Raimi", that infectious and kinetic insanity make this movie really, really work. This includes several surprisingly violent images in the movie. Really, I flinched... internally.
What works is when Feige and "the mouse" lets Mr. Raimi bust all over the frame. What doesn't is when they tell him to pinch it off... (coughs)
SEE IT: If you are a fan of both Sam Raimi and Strange, as I have been since the 80s. You won't be disappointed.
DON'T SEE IT: If you're over the this MCU mishegas, and that documentary on pickled fungus is on.