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‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ Review: Elizabeth Olsen Is the MVP
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‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ Review: Elizabeth Olsen Is the MVP

Sam Raimi's 'Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness' is mesmerising and convoluted.

Updated
Movie Reviews
4 min read

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ Review: Elizabeth Olsen Is the MVP

(Contains minor spoilers for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness)

If there exists a version of you in a parallel timeline; a version that has everything your heart desires and all your loved ones are safe and sound, would you want to take over their life? And how far would you go in your pursuit? Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness poses these questions to its audience in a convoluted story set in (you guessed it!) the multiverse.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) timeline is a busy highway with its characters running in and out of each other’s films and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness drives it to a point where anybody who isn’t an ardent fan might need to bust out their evidence board and red yarn.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

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The film begins in typical Marvel fashion, a Sorcerer Supreme Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is fighting a monster to save a young woman America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) who can travel across the multiverse. However, one being seeks that power and Strange takes Chavez to the Kamar-Taj for her protection. This is where the duo, along with the other sorcerers, face the formidable threat— the Scarlet Witch herself.

Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Wong (Benedict Wong) and American Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

(Photo Courtesy: Twitter)

And then everything goes off the rails in the best way possible with director Sam Raimi melding multiple genres into one film, as he is known to do. Wanda Maximoff has fully embraced her powers as the Scarlet Witch and now has one end goal— ‘reuniting’ with her children.

In this Doctor Strange flick, Elizabeth Olsen’s performance as the Scarlet Witch is mesmerising, macabre, mind-bending and brilliant.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is an action-packed, sometimes comedic, horror inducing film about human nature set in multiple universes at once. The film is MCU meets Evil Dead meets Ghostbusters meets Rick and Morty which is all thanks to Raimi’s brilliance and understanding of the cinematic experience (of course, it's Dutch angles galore).

A scene from Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

Most of Raimi’s vision for the film comes alive through Olsen who is equally terrifying in her uber powerful Scarlet Witch ensemble and her Carrie-esque version straight out of Stephen King’s novel.

Olsen handles the reins of the film embodying a woman driven by grief and angst and all-in-all creates a rather terrifying yet tragic figure that perhaps has Shakespeare rolling in his grave.

Elizabeth Olsen as the Scarlet Witch in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

While exploring the multiverse, we’re taken through multiple versions of what life was or could be like for the primary characters— does Dr Stephen Strange ever end up with Dr. Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams)? What does life look like for Wanda as a single mother in the suburbs raising her two kids? What does Chavez regret? Somewhere along the way, there’s pizza balls.

On that note, we meet Chavez’s two moms but the queer characters have little significance in the film. Maybe if Chavez’s sexuality (she is canonically a lesbian character) is explored in later editions, there will be more to talk about in that aspect.

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The Illuminati are introduced with cameos that elicited group cheers from the audience and rightfully so. The action sequences are, for the most part, exquisitely choreographed, especially one fight fought through musical notes with an equally impressive score. Right when the multiverse bit starts to seem a little too simple, yes exhaustingly drawn out, Strange meets a worthy adversary.

The damned souls that make an appearance fall into Raimi’s realm of cartoonish and often campy horror and at places seem out of place in the intricate realm designed for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

But it’s an effective creative decision to give more screen time to Palmer and loveable sidekick Wong (Benedict Wong), even though Olsen continuously steals the show.

Rachel McAdams as Dr Christine Palmer in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

The scale at which the film is built and the goals it has set for itself seem out of the film’s scope and that shows when cracks start to appear in the pacing and logic. When a story is built around a concept as complicated and vast as the multiverse, loopholes and fallacies either slip through the cracks or become glaringly obvious. In Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, we see both.

(This review is from The Quint's archives and is being republished as the film is being released on Disney+ Hotstar)

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