Review: Multiverse of Disappointment

Review%3A+Multiverse+of+Disappointment

T Lopez and Isaac Ng

Warning: This article contains spoilers for Doctor Strange in The Multiverse of Madness.

Excitement and expectations were high for Doctor Strange in The Multiverse of Madness, yet we walked out of the theater in complete disappointment. We weren’t expecting 200 cameos with Spiderman: No Way Home-level fanservice, but it still felt like potential was wasted. 

Bad writing holds the movie back from how great it could have been.

[The Good]

Multiverse of Madness is far from an unwatchable product. In fact, there were elements that we both quite enjoyed. For instance, the film’s third act featured one of the most creative final battles we’ve ever seen in a comic book movie. Who could’ve imagined witnessing a sorcerer possess the corpse of his alternate self in another universe while harnessing demonic souls into his cloak on screen? 

The creativity doesn’t end there. Doctor Stephen Strange duels a sinister version of himself by magically weaponizing musical notes ripped straight out of piano music sheets against each other. Coupled with the integration of astonishing visuals and sound effects, it is evident that director Sam Raimi’s brilliance is imprinted all over this scene. 

    While one wouldn’t classify Multiverse of Madness as a “horror” movie, it contained effective jumpscares that left our neighboring audience members terror-stricken. The suspense incorporated with eerie music, Raimi’s eccentric cinematography choices, and the gruesomeness of Wanda’s slaughter of the much anticipated Illuminati make for a thrilling experience. 

(For the uninitiated, the Illuminati were a group of super powered individuals that served to protect the alternative universe of Earth-838.)

    We also appreciate the inclusion of a flashback scene depicting the Doctor Strange of Earth-838’s execution in the hands of the Illuminati, though the Thanos CGI felt a bit distracting. Relaying past events to an audience through a vivid flashback is infinitely more engaging than boring exposition, and it flawlessly utilizes a classic cameo of Charles Xavier’s psychic abilities. 

    Speaking of Xavier, his entrance into the scene was so amazing. For fans of the 1990’s X-Men cartoon like us, hearing the classic theme and seeing Xavier sit in the iconic gold chair brought strong feelings of nostalgia. 

    Strange’s overall character arc was also intriguing. Over the course of the film, he grows from his well-documented impulsive arrogance to ultimately inspire America Chavez to conquer her fears and use her transcendent powers to defeat the villain. 

Watching him learn from the mistakes committed by his alternate versions followed by Strange’s heartwarming pep-talk feels satisfying. 

    Last but not least, the strongest components of the movie are by far the performances from the two co-leads, Elizabeth Olsen and Benedict Cumberbatch. Olsen steals the show with her moving portrayal of Wanda Maximoff, a.k.a the Scarlet Witch, and we absolutely love the MCU’s choice of casting her as the main antagonist. Not only does this subvert the audience’s expectations, but it also illustrates a mother desperately trying to reunite with her children, which is resonating for audiences and therefore makes for a compelling villain. 

Despite some flaws we will touch on later, they don’t hinder Cumberbatch’s exceptional performance. His ability to portray all the various versions of Strange, as they each display their own unique demeanors, perfectly showcases Cumberbatch’s acting prowess. 

[The Bad]

As hyped as we were for the movie, there were flaws in the movie we couldn’tignore. The most noticeable flaw was the pacing in the first two acts. There’s a very sudden start to the movie that caught us off guard, and the abrupt cuts and jumps between scenes didn’t stop there. It felt like scenes were one and done after some action and banter.

One of the biggest downfalls of this movie was the fact the movie’s villain, Wanda Maximoff, felt more like the main character than Strange did. Elizabeth Olsen did an amazing job portraying Wanda, but she overtook the spotlight for a movie that isn’t hers. Strange is still a prominent character (obviously), but the way his story is developed feels off. 

Since when has Strange still been in undying love with Christine Palmer (played by Rachel McAdams)? We haven’t even heard Christine mentioned since the first Doctor Strange movie in 2016, so how does she fit here now? 

We wish there was more to show that connection considering how intertwined this movie is with other MCU projects. The first Doctor Strange movie already established why they don’t work, so there’s no reason to use that as motivation for Strange’s growth. 

We were livid at the changes made to America Chavez. We understand reducing her powers because of how strong she is in the comics. However, this doesn’t explain why her whole personality had to be changed. She went from a character that is super tough and tries anything to survive to nothing more than the usual “child who doesn’t understand her powers.” 

It’s disheartening to see America Chavez running around screaming when she’s supposed to be a resilient character. Her original personality would’ve fit the story better and given more reason to root for her survival. 

Her new origin story also feels so wrong. It seems like they’re going with her original origin of being from the Utopian Parallel. Chavez’s mothers’ sacrifice to save their utopia is her biggest motivation to travel the Multiverse and be the tough hero she is, but that’s gone now. 

Along the lines of new characters, seeing the IIlluminati was exciting, but that excitement was cut short by how they were used. It’s interesting to see them be the parallel to Strange’s arrogance, but there could’ve been more from them. 

We understand they’re just cameos and set up the fact that there’s a possibility for them in Earth-616, but there could’ve been more to the fight against Wanda. They’re aware of how powerful Wanda is considering she exists in their universe as well, yet they do nothing against her. 

Their short-lived screen time didn’t feel like enough to entice new fans that don’t know the capabilities of characters like Reed Richards, Charles Xavier, and Black Bolt.

Aside from the pacing and character changes, the marketing of the movie felt like a factor that took away from the experience. We saw a lot of the cameos in trailers including a ton of bits for fights that would’ve had more impact if it was a surprise. 

To end off an already mixed movie, there were the two post-credit scenes that lead to more confusion. The ending in general felt out of nowhere and felt unnecessary considering the first post-credit scene. They could’ve been combined considering they both show the effects of the Darkhold on Strange. 

Clea opening the Dark Dimension and mentioning the incursion was cool, but also just feels rushed once again. The second post-credit which is just the pizza ball guy saying “It’s finally over” was super random to say the least. 

[Conclusion]

Overall, the classic cameos, enjoyable third act and wonderful performances weren’t enough to outweigh the movie’s glaring flaws. 

The consistent reshoots and rewrites seem to be one of the biggest reasons for its rushed tone. It’s a solid setup for future projects, but Multiverse of Madness as a whole didn’t live up to the hype given by the promo materials.