After No Way Home, Marvel formalizes the opening of the multiverse with the second opus of the adventures of Doctor Strange. What is the film directed by Sam Raimi worth? Hot review.
Since his first adventures on the big screen in 2016, Doctor Strange has made himself indispensable to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As the figureheads of the cinematic universe take turns bowing out, Benedict Cumberbatch could well establish himself as a key figure in the next phases of the MCU. This second part therefore has a double responsibility, introducing the multiverse to the big screen and recording the sacrament of the sorcerer.
To stage this feature film, the house of ideas is recruiting one of the most emblematic directors of the genre: Sam Raimi. Considered the father of modern superheroes, since his Spider-Man trilogy in the early 2000s, the filmmaker seemed to have said goodbye to characters in capes and tights.
Kevin Feige has obviously found the right arguments to bring him back behind the camera. An informed choice on the part of the Big Boss, which at the same time offers Marvel its first foray into genre cinema.
After having crossed paths with the web weaver in Spider-Man: No Way Home, Doctor Strange must deal with the dire consequences of the spell he cast to allow Peter Parker to remain anonymous. The doors of the multiverse are definitely open and the danger more latent than ever. With Wanda Maximoff and a young girl with mysterious gifts, Doctor Strange will have to face creatures from other worlds to hope to save humanity from a powerful enemy.
Fear on Marvel
Marvel has promoted this new feature as its first foray into horror. A production against the trend at the firm with the scarlet logo, rather accustomed to well-felt punchlines. Driven by a master in the field, the director ofevil Dead, the initiative sounds like good news in an ultra-calibrated cinematic universe that leaves little room for the artistic vision of its filmmakers. If some have managed to extract themselves even a little from this formatting, James Gunn in the front line, we have to admit that the originality of words and vision does not really have its place within the MCU.
Sam Raimi nevertheless seems to have benefited from an unprecedented freedom, and that’s good. The director will have the opportunity to explore the destiny of one of the Marvel protagonists who are dear to his heart. If it was Spider-Man who won his favor in 2002, he had already expressed his attachment to the character of Stephen Strange long before Marvel and Disney became interested in it. In Spider Man 2, he briefly refers to the detour of a sequence in the Daily Bugle. Two very different protagonists therefore, but which he seizes brilliantly.
After a foot-to-earth introduction, there is no longer any doubt: Sam Raimi will approach the new adventures of the sorcerer with a definitively new tone within the MCU. There will be gore. From the first moments, in front of the dumbfounded eyes of the spectators, Strange tears the eyeball of a slimy and tentacular creature, we are already conquered.
Everything in the staging screams horror and chills. From gothic aesthetics, to sets, to unsavory creatures, Sam Raimi puts all his talent for horror at the service of a game of sadistic tension. We cross the watered-down mirror of Marvel to immerse ourselves in the heart of a film tinged with visual references to the masters of the genre, from The Ring to Alien. If we feared that the creativity of Sam Raimi would be sacrificed on the altar of the house of ideas, we are reassured.
The director does not lace, he manhandles his protagonists and seems to take great pleasure in doing so. His twirling camera ingeniously immortalizes this interdimensional adventure. The editing is not left out, it adds to the atmosphere and supports the many visual gags. An impression of cartoon 2.0, reinforced by astonishing biases. Without saying too much about the plot, just know that Sam Raimi has not refused anything.
Too bad, if the slider is generally pushed to its climax (on the Marvel scale eh), the director could not escape the PG 13 instruction of the film. Scenes that are too violent take place off-screen. We would have liked this love for gore to come to life before our eyes rather than being content with the limits of the frame.
On the other hand, we will note a real work on the sound, to build the “jumpscares” sequences. In Dolby Atmos, it has its little effect. If the horror does not invite itself completely on the screen, in our esgourdes, it is another music.
With just over two hours on the clock, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness adopts a frantic pace. It must be said that there are many concepts to be covered. In the script, Michael Waldron, to whom we already owe Loki for Disney +, has the difficult task of referring to several major productions of this new Marvel vintage, while taking care not to leave any spectator on the side of the road.
As the MCU invades the small screen with spin-off series, the franchise’s overall plot is becoming more and more like a real bag of knots that can seem difficult to untangle. Fortunately, Waldron manages to hang up the wagons for those who have not seen all of the series offered by the platform. Some basic notions are nevertheless necessary, in particular to appreciate the many winks and references distilled in the story.
If the multiverse is obviously at the heart of the plot, it is also and above all a way for Waldron to confront the characters with their deep desires. This is undoubtedly the most successful aspect of the film: building a coherent path for each of the protagonists. A tender, dark and devilishly effective adventure.
We nevertheless regret that this beating drum rhythm pushes Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness to skim over a few elements that would have been interesting to explore further. This is particularly true on the side of America Chavez, camped by the promising Xochitl Gomez. Marvel has nevertheless undoubtedly already planned to explore its destiny in more detail with a solo production, in the cinema or in the small skylight.
Still, sometimes the deliberately disjointed nature of the story and its spatio-temporal peregrinations has its setbacks. As one approaches the conclusion, the plot does not always manage to keep its course. Fortunately, when the film slowly begins to slip into pathos, Sam Raimi catches us on the fly with his direction.
Elizabeth Olsen: Supreme
After a high-flying performance in Wandavision, Elizabeth Olsen has established herself as an evidence within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With a singular sincerity, the actress manages to give body to her character to the point of almost eclipsing the title role.
Benedict Cumberbatch, less solemn than in the first film, does not demerit. The actor manages to pay homage to the score offered to him, multiple and demanding. An exercise far from obvious, from which he comes out with honors. The rest of the cast is equally inspired, starting with Benedict Wong who perfectly plays sidekicks for Doctor Strange.
We will end with the music of Danny Elfman, a reference in genre cinema with a rich and diverse score. After Batman at Burton, the composer, finds Sam Raimi 20 years after the first Spiderman. From this new collaboration, memorable compositions are born.
Creaking, the cinematic music of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness draws on the side of horror to perfect the picture and remain consistent with the original discourse of the film. The composer punctuates the story brilliantly, while paying tribute to the excellent work of Michael Giacchino on the first opuses. Mr. Danny Elfman has lost none of his splendour.
Surprising in many ways, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness takes us where we least expect it. It is also proof that when the directors deviate from the heavy specifications of the house of ideas, the superhero film can reinvent itself. But is not Sam Raimi who wants, this film will undoubtedly be an exception in an ultra-calibrated cinematographic universe. Unless Kevin Feige finally decides to recruit craftsmen driven by a real artistic vision.
Watch Doctor Strange 1 and Wandavision on Disney+