Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Review

Prepare for imaginative visuals and horror-tinged action as Doctor Strange tries to contain the fallout from his botched spell that ruptured the multiverse into madness.

Marvel’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness served as yet another exciting installment in the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Directed by horror maestro Sam Raimi, this Doctor Strange sequel sees Benedict Cumberbatch reprise his role as the Sorcerer Supreme on a mind-bending adventure through the multiverse.

Does Doctor Strange 2 live up to the wild expectations set by its Reality-warping premise and exciting trailers? Read our spoiler-free Doctor Strange 2 review below to find out.

A Spoiler-Free Overview

Doctor Strange 2 picks up after the events of Spider-Man: No Way Home, which saw Strange botch a spell that ruptured the boundaries between universes. The film follows Strange as he tries to contain the fallout from his botched spell, leading to dimensional chaos and introducing key new MCU characters like America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez).

Along the way, Strange encounters old allies like Wong (Benedict Wong) and new foes from alternate universes. Most notable among them is an evil variant of Strange himself, along with an unexpectedly villainous turn from fellow Avenger and chaos magic wielder Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen).

Sam Raimi’s creative fingerprints are all over the movie, with horror elements, kinetic action, and imaginative visuals brought to life through stunning VFX. Danny Elfman’s score is another highlight, invoking his previous collaborations with Raimi on films like Spider-Man 2.

Sam Raimi’s Horror Stylings Invigorate the MCU

After directing the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man trilogy in the early 2000s, Sam Raimi makes his long-awaited return to comic book movies with Doctor Strange 2. Raimi’s background in horror serves him well here, infusing the MCU with a creepier, scarier tone than we’ve seen before.

Sam Raimi's horror stylings in Doctor Strange 2

There are legit jump scares and frightening imagery throughout, with Raimi deploying chilling visual effects to bring Nightmare and other threats to life. While avoiding an outright horror movie, Raimi effectively spices up the MCU formula by tapping into his Evil Dead roots. Fans of his previous work will be glad to see Raimi allowed to unleash his demented creativity in a major blockbuster.

An Emotive Story Powered by Strong Performances

For all the dimensional hijinks, Doctor Strange 2 works because it has an emotional core anchored by the human drama. Benedict Cumberbatch shines in his fourth appearance as Strange, conveying the character’s complexity and relatable flaws behind the arrogant facade.

Elizabeth Olsen is a standout as Wanda Maximoff, portraying her grief-stricken descent into darkness with haunting intensity. The script smartly builds on Wanda’s emotional arc from WandaVision, organically evolving her into one of the MCU’s most dangerous villains. Xochitl Gomez also makes a likable debut as America Chavez, bringing heart to the teen heroine flung into a strange multiverse.

While the plot can get convoluted at times, the emotional stakes ring true thanks to the talented cast. Raimi balances the human moments against psychedelic action for an entertaining superhero package.

Dazzling Visuals and Thrilling Action

Visuals of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

With a title like Multiverse of Madness, expectations were high for this Doctor Strange sequel to get weird. Rest assured, it fully delivers on the mind-bending visual front with astounding VFX and trippy imagery. Sam Raimi’s signature stylistic flourishes also amplify the otherworldly nature of the multiverse.

Fans of comic-accurate weirdness will geekgasm over things like the Illuminati, including Patrick Stewart’s Professor X return. The various alternate realities offer fun twists on familiar faces, with some scenarios more horrific than others. While they didn’t go full horror, it’s refreshing to see Marvel push the boundaries of psychedelic possibilities.

The action is equally thrilling, with Raimi coordinating some of the most inventive set pieces seen in the MCU. Doctor Strange shows off exciting new ways to wield magic in combat, including clever uses of his Cloak of Levitation. The visual effects make sorcery look cooler than ever before. Scarlet Witch also unleashes her chaos magic to full devastating effect, with Elizabeth Olsen’s physical commitment selling the brutal fights.

Some Narrative Issues, But Overall a Win

A few story issues hold back Doctor Strange 2 from true greatness, but don’t derail the fun. America Chavez is underdeveloped compared to the returning characters, making her hero’s journey feel rushed. The script also leans too heavily on exposition at times, trying to explain multiverse mechanics instead of simply letting the weird visuals speak for themselves.

Doctor Strange and Wanda Maximov

While it’s not perfect, the movie successfully builds on the emotional arc of key characters like Strange and Wanda. Visually it’s another MCU triumph, with Raimi’s imaginative direction bringing the comic book pages to life. For MCU fans, it’s a lower-stakes adventure compared to epic crossovers like Avengers: Endgame, but offers solid blockbuster entertainment centered around a fan-favorite hero.

The Verdict: A Reality-Bending Thrill Ride

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness condenses the MCU’s growing multiverse saga into a thrillingly weird blockbuster. The performances keep it grounded through mind-bending visuals and horror-tinged action. Sam Raimi puts his distinctive directorial stamp on Marvel’s expanding cinematic universe with this reality-warping ride.

A few hiccups in the script and pacing issues slow Doctor Strange 2 down from reaching full greatness. But overall, it’s a solid entry in Marvel’s Phase 4, expanding the MCU’s sci-fi/fantasy side through creative filmmaking. Get ready for a dimension-hopping adventure like no other – just don’t forget your sling ring.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness: Expanded Analysis of Key Characters

Doctor Strange

This is Benedict Cumberbatch’s fourth outing as Doctor Strange after cameos in Thor: Ragnarok and Spider-Man: No Way Home. He’s grown more comfortable in the role, layering in subtleties to balance Strange’s arrogance with humanity. The script highlights how reckless he can be when obsessed with controlling mystical threats. We also see Strange’s relationships evolve with returning allies Wong, Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams), and estranged ex-student Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor).

Scarlet Witch

Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch

Wanda Maximoff undergoes the most radical transformation, with Elizabeth Olsen bringing heartbreaking intensity to her grief and villainous turn. Events pick up after the traumatic ending of WandaVision, which clearly fractured Wanda’s psyche. Her motivations are emotionally understandable even as her methods turn dark. This is the Scarlet Witch fully unleashed, and the MCU will never be the same.

America Chavez

Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez

The energetic Xochitl Gomez endears as the dimension-hopping teen America Chavez. She brings a fun sense of humor to counterbalance the heady sci-fi concepts. America’s powers are visually striking, punching star-shaped portals through reality. She’s still figuring out her abilities and backstory mysteries, so hopefully future MCU projects can develop America further.

Standout Action Sequences

New York Street Fight

When a massive, tentacled demon called Gargantos erupts from the ocean and attacks New York, Doctor Strange leaps into action to defend the city. What follows is an epic battle as Strange fends off Gargantos using his mystical abilities in clever ways. He animates construction scaffolding to ensnare the creature, slices through tentacles with magical energy blades, and even hijacks part of a bus to bash Gargantos from behind.

New York street fight in Doctor Strange 2

Strange manipulates the very fabric of his surroundings as weapons in the fight, giving fans an inventive look at how sorcerers can creatively utilize their powers. He scrambles up buildings, twists debris into projectiles, and at one point magically redirects an entire flooded subway tunnel to wash away Gargantos. Their reality-bending duel across New York is visually thrilling.

Chase Through Multiverse

Attempting to stop Scarlet Witch from capturing America’s power, Strange and Chavez escape by jumping through a series of bizarre alternate realities. This offers a psychedelic tour through the marvellously strange corners of the Marvel multiverse.

Multiverse in Marvel phase 4 Doctor Strange

Some highlights include an apocalyptic world with one giant eye in the sky, a realm where everyone has paint instead of blood, a planet of crystalline formations, and a reality dominated by massive ants. We glimpse these worlds in fleeting but unforgettable shots stitched together through virtuoso editing.

The chase also shows off America’s portal-punching abilities as she thinks on her feet to zig-zag them away from the pursuing Scarlet Witch. It’s a scene that leans into the anything-goes visual potential of the multiverse premise.

Illuminati Compound

After traveling to Earth-838, Doctor Strange comes face to face with the powerful team known as the Illuminati, including Professor X, Captain Carter, Captain Marvel, Black Bolt, and Mordo. But the meeting quickly turns violent when Scarlet Witch attacks and overpowers the heroes.

Doctor Strange taken prisoner in the Illuminati compound

What follows is an intense battle as Scarlet Witch pursues America Chavez through the high-tech Illuminati headquarters. Scarlet Witch uses her reality-warping abilities to deadly effect, manipulating the environment around her. In one of the most shocking moments, she silences Black Bolt by magically sealing his mouth before he can unleash his hypersonic voice.

The fight shows how unstoppable Scarlet Witch has become, as she dismantles the multiverse’s mightiest heroes with ease. It also demonstrates her ruthless determination to capture America’s power to achieve her goal.

Mirror Dimension

When Doctor Strange confronts his corrupted variant, Sinister Strange, they engage in a mind-bending duel within the Mirror Dimension. This surreal realm allows them to battle without damaging the real world, as they can manipulate the very fabric of reality here.

Scarlet Witch Wanda Maximov in the mirror dimension

The sorcerers reshape the shifting, kaleidoscopic landscape around each other, turning buildings into weapons and warping gravity itself. At one point, Sinister Strange folds the landscape into a sphere with opposing gravitational forces, leaving Strange disoriented.

Their reality-altering abilities shatter the Mirror Dimension in creatively surreal ways, with buildings fragmented into shards of tiles and space twisting into Escher-like optical illusions. It’s a psychedelic environment that brings out the imagination in their magical powers. The duel culminates with a chilling sequence wherein Sinister Strange consumes and incorporates defeated versions of himself from across the multiverse, showcasing this villain’s ambition.

Unanswered Questions for the Future

Doctor Strange 2 teases future developments through its finale and post-credits scenes. Here are some unanswered questions it raises:

  • What is the full extent of Scarlet Witch’s powers now? Is she still alive out there somewhere?
  • How will America Chavez factor into upcoming MCU chapters?
  • What are the consequences of Professor X and the Illuminati’s deaths on the multiverse?
  • Did Doctor Strange’s third eye hint at his future corruption? What’s next in his arc?
  • How will incursions from other universes threaten the primary MCU timeline moving forward?

Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige says this movie “opens up the Multiverse” for significant Phase 4 storylines. We’ll have to wait for future MCU installments to see exactly how impactful Doctor Strange 2 ultimately proves for Marvel’s cinematic universe.