Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness ★★★★

Pure comic book movie bliss! This was just as enjoyable as I had hoped it would be. It's wild, campy, dark, horror-esqe, a bit of a mess, and it's all thrown into a total roller coaster blast of a movie. If this isn't for you, I get it, but this is 100% FOR ME so everything that bothered everyone else is kinda what made me love it. First of all, I love the way this film grapples with the tragic beauty of Infinity War's ending. The call backs and repeated lines from that film (one of my all time favorites) were awesome. Strange is quite the complex character with a lot of possibilities for emotional arcs and I thought this film dove into that in a compelling way. Not only do we get a great continuation of Strange's arc but the development of Wanda's story may be the best part of the movie. As someone who loved Wandavision and thinks Wanda Maximoff is one of the MCU's best characters, I LOVED what they did here. When it comes to setup and character work in play, this is about as good as Marvel has ever done for my money. I guess this is where I transition into the cast. Benedict Cumberbatch continues to be just perfect as this character. His dry humor, subtle quirks, and most importantly the way he portrays the emotional moments have made Doctor Strange a standout character since his first appearance. And Elizabeth Olsen... wow! They let her TEE OFF here and truly give a creepy, inspired performance as our villain. She bodied her role in this movie! This may not be the most grand or ambitious villain the MCU has ever had but in terms of sheer weight and power, Wanda is elite here! The movie brings everything we've seen from her since Age of Ultron and wraps it into one tragic, epic villainous presence. The supporting cast, both returners and newcomers, is also really great. Benedict Wong is still so much fun as Wong, who is at this point of the best side characters in the MCU. Chiwetel Ejiofor's appearance here is awesome, if anything I wanted more of him. He just does so much with his scenes, giving Mordo another nice role in the movie. Rachel McAdams may have been the sneaky scene stealer here. As far as MCU romances go, Strange and Christine may be the strongest. They get some real emotional moments here and all of them are totally effective. Christine represents Strange's flaws and the primary way these movies have explored him as a character. Things set up between them from the opening minutes of the first film are payed off here, things set up at the beginning of this movie are payed off, and their relationship was one of the standout aspects of the film. And I thought Xochitl Gomez was really good here. What could have easily been a distracting character turned into an awesome first appearance for America Chavez. There could have been some more development given to her character but overall, I really liked what they did with her here. But the biggest star on display in this movie is Sam FREAKING Raimi. I'm not too familiar with his horror work but I know enough to know that the guy went for it here in every way he could. There is some real, crazy horror stuff in play here that would have given me nightmares a few years ago. This thing is campy as hell, (especially the back half) unashamedly ridiculous, and comes together as a stylish, cheesy superhero horror epic. What else could one ask for from a movie? There are a TON of memorable images in this thing, probably the most in a Marvel picture since the iconic frames of Infinity War. From a visual perspective, this thing absolutely rocked. And finally, I thought Danny Elfman's score, as well as the sound design as a whole, was pretty fantastic! There are some stellar musical moments here, as well as freaking guitar riffs (which were sick) and it struck me as one of the better scores from a comic book movie in a while. As for some flaws, while I didn't have nearly as much of a gripe with this as many did, the first 40 minutes do feel tame compared to the rest and this creates a slight shift but again, this barely bothered me. While I do absolutely appreciate the water-tight runtime and breakneck pace this carries (most of the time), I did think they could have expanded this a bit. Maybe let some character moments breathe, maybe explore some more multiversal madness, maybe throw in some more creative action sequences, but again, for the most part this didn't bother me. So yeah, Doctor Strange's newest outing was just a total blast. Everything I love about comic book storytelling blended with one of the great horror voices of our time holding nothing back. Did it make a misstep along the way? Sure. But was it an unforgettable roller coaster ride that I had no desire of leaving? You're damn right it was!

MCU Ranking - #7

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