Film: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Plot: Dr. Stephen Strange casts a forbidden spell that opens the doorway to the multiverse, including alternate versions of himself, whose threat to humanity is too great for the combined forces of Strange, Wong, and Wanda Maximoff.
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Benedict Wong, Xochitl Gomez, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Rachel McAdams
Director: Sam Raimi
Release Date: May 6, 2022
Studio: Marvel Studios
HCA Overall Grade: B

Nikki Fowler says, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse Of Madness is a fascinating nightmare kaleidoscope with Sam Raimi’s graphic, dark and twisted vibe all over this alternate reality mind bend. Cumberbatch delights with perfection, showing us his ability to do anything on screen and do it well. Olsen is incredible and shines as Scarlet Witch. Kudos to Bob Murawski + Tia Nolan on some phenomenal editing. The music was a standout highlight for me by composer Danny Elfman as well as amazing costuming by Graham Churchyard.”

Grade: A

Dan Murrell says, “While director Sam Raimi brings his trademark style to the MCU table, Dr. Strange’s second “solo” film collapses under the weight of too many storylines pulled from other MCU shows and movies. Every great sequence is offset by shoddy plotting and structure and the movie exists mostly as a collection of cool moments and lackluster connecting tissue. Marvel also doesn’t seem to know what to do with one of its biggest characters, turning her from one of the universe’s most sympathetic heroes to one of the MCU’s most mindlessly vicious villains with little to no justification. Unlike Spider-Man: No Way Home, the film’s cameo characters serve little purpose other than drawing applause from the audience. Doctor Strange is a passenger in his own movie and no amount of trademark Raimi horror can save it from the overreach of Marvel’s expanding universe.”

Grade: C+

Kate Sánchez says, “Buckling under its own weight at times, Doctor Strange 2 still captivates with horror and a chaotic pacing.”

Grade: B

Kevin Taft says, “Dr. Strange is sort of a culmination of everything that came before it. Wall to wall SFX (some not great), fan service, lots of heroes/villains thrusting their hands out to stop things, and a tiny bit of emotional resonance based on a handful of movies/shows that came before it. Characters are mostly one-note and nobody is terribly compelling except Wanda. It’s all fine, but at this point, these movies are just a way to numb 2+ hours with spectacle that’s starting to repeat itself. Marvel fans will like “this week’s episode.” But it’s time to do more.”

Grade: C+

Nestor Bentancor says, “Two supreme filmmakers like Feige and Raimi conjure up an exhilarating, horror-infused, fantasy adventure. A few additional minutes dedicated to character development (especially for America Chavez) would have strengthened its narrative, but it accomplishes its main goal: Being relentlessly entertaining. Am I happy? HELL YES!!!”

Grade: A

Michael Lee says, “Though Sam Raimi’s slapstick horror and grindhouse styles make Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness one of the darkest and scariest superhero films that Marvel Studios has to offer, it’s too fast-paced for its own good making the film feel like it’s in a rush to get to the next set-piece without spending any time to explore the multiverse in a satisfactory way. Still, this is one Marvel flick that’s bold enough to kill off some very cool cameos.”

Grade: B-

Aaron Neuwirth says, “The film delivers a madcap adventure that balances what we’ve come to expect from the MCU with a nice amount of horror.”

Grade: B

Joel D. Amos says, “There’s a touch that Sam Raimi brings to his films that is unmistakably pure Raimi. Derrickson is a fine director. His work on The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Deliver Us from Evil, and Sinister illustrate that the director can simultaneously meld the supernatural and the super scary. He would have delivered a perfectly fine sequel to his 2016 film. But sometimes in life, things happen for a reason. We may not know what they are at the time, but looking back on it, it’s hard to imagine there weren’t the film Gods overlooking the world of Doctor Strange. What Raimi has delivered to audiences is exactly the follow-up to Derrickson’s original that it deserved. It’s uncanny. Keep an eye out for nods to some of Raimi’s films strewn throughout the Marvel movie! Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is an unadulterated superb addition to Raimi’s movie resume and the MCU.”

Grade: A

Debbie Elias says, “Although wildly entertaining and smacks of just enough dashes of Sam Raimi’s patented horror stylings, there’s a bit too much madness in this multiverse. And while the visuals are for the most part a jewel-toned eye-popping kaleidoscope of color punctuated with some nods akin to Harry Potter’s Dementors, the visual effects are in overdrive, moving into overkill. Benedict Cumberbatch plays second fiddle to a scene-stealing powerhouse performance by Elizabeth Olsen who is at her most glorious! As Wong, Benedict Wong is a determined loyal joy with killer one-liners that celebrate his beefed-up role as Sorcerer Supreme this go-round. But look out for breakout star Xochitl Gomez! She is the one to watch!”

Grade: B

Maggie Ma says, “It’s the scariest Marvel movie but exactly what I hoped for and even beyond my expectation. But it’s not for everyone. You need to have watched enough Marvel movies and series to enjoy it. Love the set designs and special effects. Just wish we get more of Illuminati.”

Grade: A

Tessa Smith says, “Finally, the true power of the Scarlet Witch is unleashed upon the MCU — and Elizabeth Olsen absolutely crushes every scene. There are horror elements, but this still remains a superhero movie. Thankfully, the cameos don’t overshadow the story. The script gets messy and cheesy at times, but it always remains fun. Sam Raimi’s style is all over this. Think Evil Dead Raimi, not Spider-Man Raimi. The visuals are hit or miss but the film is able to pull off some really cool moments. The first end credit will leave hardcore fans with their jaws on the floor.”

Grade: B+

Emmanuel Noisette says, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was a thrilling adventure of wild imagination that became next-level MCU. This was the MCU’s first true horror film, and Sam Raimi left his definitive stamp on it. However, it should be noted that this film’s horror elements are not recommended for small children.”

Grade: B+

Josie Meléndez says, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is one of those films that gradually shifts into something distinguishable, quickly setting it apart in the MCU. It’s a stylistic buffet that heightens with every waking minute through Sam Raimi’s direction. It also dives into visual elements of horror that were a welcome surprise to witness. Unfortunately, while the film is entertaining it lacks a proper narrative drive making the script the weakest part of the newest installment to Marvel’s catalog. However, the performances were dedicated with Elizabeth Olsen as an obvious standout despite the sloppy hand she was dealt. It is also important to note that it’ll be quite jarring for fans of America Chavez to visualize and accept this version of her considering it completely ignores any semblance of comic book accuracy. On the other hand, one aspect of the film that is most likely to be foolproof to negative criticism is that of the music by Danny Elfman. The score truly elevates it all.”

Grade: D+

Clarence Moye says, “Sam Raimi’s Multiverse of Madness is a beautifully acted mixed bag of a film. At times, Raimi’s direction works beautifully while, in other moments, feels rusty. Still, Cumberbatch and Olson know how to play these characters, and they do so beautifully. Particularly Olson, who makes Scarlet Witch a tragic, tormented adversary. For me, Danny Elfman’s score is the true MVP of the film, particularly the ingenious and fresh fight sequence using mystical notes. I wish the rest of the film had matching levels of inventiveness.”

Grade: B

Maggie Lovitt says, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a waking nightmare from start to finish. The multiverse is a gateway to larger, grander stories, but instead of harnessing it for its full potential, they weaponized it to make a grieving mother, who just wants her children back, a monster.”

Grade: D-

Zachary Pope says, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a satisfying mess. Action-packed fun, horrific/gruesome at times, and a messy script… the film itself feels as if it’s missing something.. but Elizabeth Olsen? POWERFUL, INCREDIBLE, and ASTONISHING.”

Grade: B

Scott Mendelson says, “The cameos are beside the point in this brutal and gleefully “problematic” sequel, as Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness subversively rubs viewers’ noses in the notion of the MCU being anything more important than a well-crafted, big-budget blockbuster brand.”

Grade: B

Diego Andaluz says, “Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness is a wild, cameo-filled ride. Sam Raimi delivers a marvelous visual spectacle infused with personality and subversive sequences propelled forward by a breakneck pace that would have benefited from a stronger structure. While not a top-tier film of the franchise, it’s still worth a watch.”

Grade: B

Francisco Cangiano says, “Multiverse of Madness is just okay. It’s entertaining, yet messy and surprisingly tame. For better or worse, Sam Raimi’s horror vision and style leave their mark on the film and the MCU. Elizabeth Olsen gives a great performance in what really ends up working as the true WandaVision series finale. In the end, sure it’s fun, but also rather underwhelming.”

Grade: B-

James White says, “As the latest bastion of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness is, of course, intertwined with other movies and shows, which will prove to be an issue for those who just want a one-off moviegoing experience? But that’s really not why we come to the MCU, right? Sam Raimi is let loose to employ all of his calling cards, and this is a film full of frights and delights. Elizabeth Olsen shines as Wanda Maximoff reckons with her tragic past and lets her needs outweigh her morals. Benedict Cumberbatch is typically snarky as the titular Strange (plus a few variants) and there are cameos galore. Are the likes of Benedict Wong and newcomer Xochitl Gomez (as the universe-hopping America Chavez) slightly underserved? Sure, and the campaign starts here for a Wong show…”

Grade: A-

Rick Bentley says, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is the most complicated film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. To fully appreciate and understand this universe-hopping production, you will need a timeline of every Marvel TV show and film, a crash course in the mystic arts, two Sherpas, lessons in dimensional travel, and a scorecard to keep track of all the players.”

Grade: B

Terence Johnson says, “Perhaps there’s enough spectacle, fun cameos, and juicy villainy in this film to guide you through, but even that enjoyment is mere paper over the cracks that it presents. By the end of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, I simply felt whelmed by the movie. Not over, not under, just whelmed.”

Grade: C-

Patrick Beatty says, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is full of action, suspense, and even a little horror. Director Sam Raimi injects his iconic visual DNA into the MCU with confidence and uniqueness to the ever-expanding universe. Great performances by the entire cast, but a mixed bag as far as character arcs, pacing, and emotion. This is still a fun ride, see it on the biggest screen you can!”

Grade: B-

Vanessa Armstrong says, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a big old, at times enjoyable, mess. The plot makes no sense, and Wanda’s arc is disappointing, especially given where we left her at the end of WandaVision. If you don’t think too hard and overlook the sexist undertones with Wanda, however, you’ll likely have a good time. Raimi brings some delightful horror moments to the MCU and those pizza balls look delicious.”

Grade: C+

Wendy Lee Szany says, “First film in the MCU to have a horror twist. Sam Raimi’s fingerprint is all over this film. Elizabeth Olsen’s performance is stellar. There’re some pacing issues in the third act but nonetheless an entertaining film and we finally get a look into the multiverse.”

Grade: B

Jami Philbrick says, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is superhero horror at its best! Director Sam Raimi delivers a scary superhero movie that has fun exploring Marvel’s multiverse.”

Grade: A-

Scott Menzel says, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is like watching two different films in one. The Sam Raimi-directed project shines the brightest when it is focusing on most of the horror-esque elements that serve as a reminder of his iconic filmography including Army of the Dead and Evil Dead. When the film shifts gears and becomes a “Marvel movie,” that is where the story begins to suffer. I founder myself often bored even when the big cameo moment happens. It is also strange knowing that this franchise, which was started as a film franchise, is now becoming something that crosses over into television which if you haven’t watched all the latest Disney Plus series might be a little problematic for those to understand some of the story and character arcs. Overall, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a mixed bag and doesn’t quite find the balance to make it a successful MCU entry where horror meets Marvel.”

Grade: C+

Lupe Rodriguez Haas says, “Sam Raimi brings his brand of humor and horror to the latest MCU installment, Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness. The sequel is by far the most bloody and violent out of all the MCU movies. Some of the action is brutal and let’s just say a massacre will leave your jaw on the floor.”

Grade: A-

Samuel Leggett Jr says, “Multiverse Of Madness is Marvel’s attempt at horror! Visuals are sharp, and Elfman’s score is at times heroic and others haunting. Cumberbatch has never been better, Olsen delivers on what Scarlett Witch can really do! Surprises and shocks throughout, tone and pacing are issues at times. Not for younger kids, but a very interesting director-driven take on this type of superhero film. At times great and others okay, still quite entertaining.”

Grade: B-

Abbie Bernstein says, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is kinetic, energetic, and entertaining, but oddly not emotionally immersive, considering its subject matter.”

Grade: B

Alexander Robinson says, “Twenty years after Sam Raimi introduced us to the first cinematic representation of Spider-Man, he gives us Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness. Raimi’s trademark style helps make it one of the best in the Marvel Cinematic Universe from a visual perspective. It’s also fast-paced, always interesting to watch, and doesn’t overstay its welcome. Unfortunately, the pace is so quick that it doesn’t allow the script to develop any new ideas or flesh out character motivations, especially when it comes to Wanda Maximoff. There are a select few moments where this movie does betray that character, which will admittedly leave many fans divided. It’s one Marvel film that is undoubtedly style over substance, which isn’t always a bad thing. The substance could’ve been much better, but it’s interesting enough to be another fun MCU entry. Here’s hoping Raimi sticks around for more!!”

Grade: B+

Mara Knopic says, “Sam Raimi’s sequel to 2016’s Doctor Strange can be described in many different ways, one of which is being a multiverse of middling success. The horror aesthetic of Raimi seeps out of every pore of the film, treading new ground in the 28th installment of the MCU by creating a visceral response of anxiety that was thoroughly enjoyable. The film struggles narratively as well as fails in its continued characterization of the film’s villain. The addition of America Chavez felt hollow and unfulfilling, seeming more akin to her placement as a human MacGuffin. The most redeeming quality is the continued development of the title character and the catharsis he achieves by the end of the film. Doctor Strange may simply be in its Thor: The Dark World phase and this is a minor dip in overall quality only to be followed by a stellar third installment.”

Grade: C

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is now playing exclusively in theaters

 

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