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‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ is like a crazy, virtual roller-coaster ride

The MCU’s first horror film is weird and macabre… in a good way; and having multiple Benedict Cumberbatches makes it even better

Chandreyee Chatterjee | Published 06.05.22, 06:23 PM

Marvel

Oh ho ho… Marvel fans who haven’t been diligent and kept up with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you are in trouble if you are going to watch Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Okay, not really, but it would, honestly, be more helpful if you have watched WandaVision and What if…? at the least. Because Multiverse of Madness lives up to its name and is easily the weirdest, craziest, most bizarre MCU film till date, not to mention the most violent and macabre. So, any foothold in this tilt-a-whirl in the form of prior knowledge of events in the MCU will definitely be welcome.

The madness of multiple Benedict Cumberbatches

First, let me just get one thing out of the way and very biasedly say that I would love Multiverse of Madness anyway because IN WHICH UNIVERSE IS MULTIPLE BENEDICT CUMBERBATCHES A BAD THING?! (I am calm, very calm) Whether it is our (Earth 616) Doctor Strange (dashing in his cape, handsome in a suit, hot in bed, topless… sigh), the Other Doctor Strange with his sexy ponytail, the Other Other Doctor Strange who is just a statue (okay fine, that is too much, but he does make a very fine statue… just saying), the really strange Doctor Strange with the third eye or zombie Doctor Strange, Benedict Cumberbatch is a delight to watch. 

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He has definitely become more comfortable in his cloak after multiple MCU outings and he handles the comic, the poignant and the bizarre with equal aplomb. Also, he seems to have replaced Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man as the daddy of the MCU, first with Peter Parker in Spider-Man: No Way Home and now with America Chavez who is the only person who can travel the multiverse. Doctor Strange seems to have fared a little better at his daddy duties this time around.

The film’s MVP is Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch

Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch

Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch

Okay, now let’s move on to less important things. Just kidding, Benedict Cumberbatch (I like saying his full name, so sue me!) is just one part of the magic of the film. In fact, the film’s MVP is definitely Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff aka Scarlet Witch. She is phenomenal as the grief-wrought, verging-on-madness Scarlet Witch and makes you wonder if she is, indeed, the most powerful character in the MCU. For those who haven’t watched WandaVision, her storyline in Multiverse of Madness continues directly from the events of the Disney+ show where she takes a town hostage while trying to deal with her grief of losing Vision in the Infinity War. She conjures up twins Billy and Tommy, but loses them during the course of the show. And it is her belief that her sons exist somewhere in the multiverse that fuels her actions in Multiverse of Madness

Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams and Xochitl Gomez

Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams and Xochitl Gomez

It is also a pleasure to see Supreme Sorcerer Wong (Benedict Wong) get a meatier role than the comic side-kick, though I am happy to report that the chemistry between the two Benedicts is still top notch. Even Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams) gets more to do than just be the girl Doctor Stephen Strange doesn’t get, apparently in every universe. America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) is an engaging character and Gomez brings a certain warmth and relatability to the character that makes her a little more than just a Macguffin who does exposition dumps.

Fans in the hall hooting and clapping and also shocked into silence

But what makes the film tick my boxes is that while it is comic book-y enough to make the Marvel fan in me happy, it is also a Sam Raimi film through and through, and the Raimi-head in me is delighted. The director of the first Spider-Man trilogy merges his superhero expertise with what he does best — horror — and the result is absolute madness, which is mostly fun, but sometimes also messy. Evil Dead fans, heads-up for the Bruce Campbell cameo, and then there are the monsters, the reanimated corpses, the jumpscares and even an evil book. And if that doesn’t boggle your mind, there are enough MCU fan-pleasing moments that had the fans in the hall at the 9.20am show at Acropolis (I thought I was watching the first show, turns out Benedict Cumberbatch is so popular they ended up adding shows at 6am, 6.30am and 8.45am as well!) hooting and clapping and also shocked into silence. Oh, and there are lots of dead bodies.

A scene from the film

A scene from the film

All in all, Multiverse of Madness is like those virtual reality roller-coaster rides. It hurtles from one breathless action sequence to another while coming to a jerky stop in between before hurtling on to the next. The scene where America and Doctor Strange hurtle through multiverses, and the fight using notes from music sheets between two Doctor Stranges, accompanied by corresponding background score (done by Danny Elfman, who has enough experience in scoring for weird and wonderful films) are two of my favourites. The ride is not always great but is mostly exhilarating.

So, even if you haven’t done your homework just strap on the seatbelts and go along for the ride. I am definitely doing this ride twice.

Last updated on 06.05.22, 06:23 PM
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