A beautifully mad-mess


Dr Strange is back with a second movie Dr Strange in the Multiverse of Madness – the 28th Marvel movie to date. Now, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the first Dr. Strange movie as it was bland and uninspired, save for some cool visuals, but with the choice of Sam Raimi as a director for this sequel, I was quite excited. With Spider Man 1and 2 playing a formative role in my childhood, I was intrigued to see how Raimi would deal with a rather boring Marvel property. And to my surprise, I actually did enjoy this movie. This is not to say that it was a great movie by any means as there were glaring flaws with its plot and character development, but I enjoyed the rather playful nature in which it presented itself.

From the opening scenes, it was almost a huge relief to see that there was actually some personality to this movie. Rather than having the incredibly static and boring camerawork of almost all Marvel movies, this film actually had some creative shots and set pieces that helped make it feel so much more interesting and fresh. It made a tremendous amount of difference and truly made you realise exactly how bland all other marvel movies are.

This movie actually felt alive and vibrant, whereas most other Marvel properties feel like they hired a cameraman whose only ability is to hold the camera upright. You feel as though you are actually in this universe, with the camera also helping you understand so much more about a character’s journey and emotion.

Raimi is also a director who really doesn’t take himself too seriously, making horror comedies and superhero movies that feel goofy and eccentric, especially when you compare them to modern superhero movies. One of my biggest complaints about Marvel is this attitude that all these movies have where they are practically begging you to take them seriously, while ignoring the fact that they are literally comic book movies — they aren’t meant to be taken that seriously! Nothing in these universes are ever going to make sense and using a bunch of technical jargon to try and explain it isn’t going to make it any better. It is better to embrace the inherent ridiculousness of these situations and just try and have fun with it.

For the most part, this movie did just that, with some absolutely farcical sequences that were so ridiculous. Raimi understands that these movies are meant to be fun and entertaining, and he did his very best to deliver that. This is especially true when you consider that the majority of fight scenes are going to be characters shooting beams at each other. It is going to be a challenge for any director to make something like this exciting and tense to watch. Raimi managed to remedy this with comedy — adding in some really silly elements into these fight scenes. One scene in particular that involved music was one of the standout sequences for me as it was just something you’d never expect to find in a Marvel movie. However, this didn’t completely solve the issue of the fight scenes, as quite a few of them still felt a little dragged out and un-engaging.

Raimi did even bring back some of his old horror-comedy movie experience, making this film quite dynamic in terms of how these characters were portrayed and with how certain sequences played out stylistically. This also made for some really satisfying deaths which were quite gory for a PG-13 movie. But while Raimi did bring a lot of his own directorial personality into this movie, it didn’t solve everything, as the script was quite underwhelming and did have all the hallmarks of a sub-par formulaic Marvel narrative.

I don’t think I’ve ever really cared about Dr. Strange, and this movie really tried to sell us about how his emotional core revolves around his ex-girlfriend Christine vs his duty as Dr. Strange, but they just didn’t have a drop of chemistry between them to make it feel believable. The villain in this film also had a very…strange… set of motivations that never felt fully baked even by the end. It just never felt convincing enough for me to care.

The story itself also felt very inconsequential, which didn’t really bother me as I don’t care about the overarching relevance of this movie with regards to the fate of the MCU. However, for anyone who does care, they would likely be a little disappointed about how certain characters came out as well as with the storyline. But I had a good time as it felt like a very fun, brain-turned-off type of ride, where I could just appreciate all the Raimi-ness of this film. 

This was one of the least Marvel-y movies of the Marvel catalogue and I say this in the best way possible. Even so, with the extensive reshoots and deleted material from Raimi’s original cut, it feels as though a good amount of his voice was cut out in order to make this movie adhere as much as possible to the traditional Marvel formula.

Coming out of this multiverse of madness, I only wish I could see a universe where Raimi could have full creative control over this film, so he could give us a silly, gory superhero comedy film with a good R rating. I wouldn’t make plans to watch this movie again, but if it was showing on TV while I’m flipping through channels, I’d probably stop to watch it.

By Sadira Sittampalam