Review: ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ an endless crusade of studio interference

Marvel’s newest addition leaves audience with mixed reaction

Filmmaker Sam Raimi is no stranger to the horror and superhero genre as he has redefined both with his highly praised trilogies, such as The Evil Dead trilogy and the original Spider-Man trilogy. After the first “Doctor Strange” director Scott Derrickson left the sequel due to creative differences, Raimi was brought in to helm the director’s chair in which those two masterful elements are used. “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is marked as the first horror film for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, where it follows Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) further exploring the multiverse with the help of American Chavez (Xochitl Gomez).

From the very first scene of the film, there’s so much personality just by its camera movements. A lot of Marvel entries often lack in this field, but Raimi being a big personality himself adds this guide for the eyes that swiftly tells a story of its own. The colors too are brightly magnified by its cinematography, giving a Steve Ditko like illustration brought to life. As the plot deepens, the horror elements heighten which pushes these filmmaking aspects to their limit.

With such a grand-scale plot, there’s also intriguing characters adding to the story. Cumberbatch does an excellent job of interpreting other variant versions of Doctor Strange. There’s always a trait specific to each variant that helps them easily stand out from the others. The newest addition to the roster of heroes, American Chavez, is a genuine, relatable character many young viewers can get something from. Both characters play off each other very well, having a powerful mentor dynamic.

Unfortunately, Raimi’s directing seems to be fighting a battle between having it’s own voice and being a yes-man. Raimi is no stranger when it comes to studio interference as his final installment in the Spider-Man trilogy, “Spider-Man 3,” was heavily affected by its constant producer involvement. With Disney being known for hiring up-and-coming filmmakers for projects because they don’t have the sufficient power to argue against producer’s notes, Raimi being a filmmaker in power lets viewers clearly tell when the movie shifts to a standard-paced Raimi film from a formulaic blockbuster. Apparently 40 minutes of the film were cut out because of these actions. Yes, so much more is brought to the table but it’s being watered down along the way.

Even with the pacing being slow, its runtime of two hours and six minutes doesn’t feel justified for a story of this magnitude. A lot of its plot feels rushed, specifically by a plot point, that will not be spoiled, that’s ruined by a character’s dumb choice that leads to destruction. It felt more like a checklist than an actual creative choice to have specific characters appear. There’s another point where Doctor Strange reveals a piece of information about himself that heavily impacts the scene he’s in.

“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” outweighs its flaws by simply having Raimi back up the film with his signature style. His return to his roots, although disappointing by being displayed in a studio film, is why it’s very worthy of a light 6/10.