Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness movie review: Really a multiverse of muchness, not amounting to much

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness director: Sam Raimi
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, Xochitl Gomez, Rachel McAdams
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness star rating: 2 stars

You may go universe to universe, forwards and backwards, to the 838th version of Doctor Strange or the 613th one (the two specifically identified here), one thing remains constant. Everywhere you go, Marvel will follow you. It may be the Multiverse of Madness (which it is), but it is above all the Multiverse of Marvel. Space continuum will only take you from one character to another, as many as you can cram into two hours of movie time.

Here, Doctor Strange’s world meets up with the worlds of Fantastic Four and X-Men, apart from, of course, the Avengers.

But, it is not about the people at all, if that’s what one is looking for. Or about conversation. Once you have tasted great power, you can do with greater power. And once you are done saving this world, there are always others to save.

In this case, one fine day, as Doctor Strange (Cumberbatch) is going about drowning his little sorrows in a harmless drink, moping about Christine (McAdams) marrying a bloke who is not him, lands in our present universe a teenage girl called America (Gomez), with powers to cross multiverses, chased by demons who want those powers.

The demons are not who they seem, as Strange soon discovers. It’s Wanda (Olsen), the witch who can control minds, who wants America’s powers – which would leave her dead – so as to settle in some universe where she is a mother to two boys. No sense can be drilled into Wanda’s head, though no one points out that in any universe, raising two boys alone isn’t just about tucking them in and feeding them ice cream.

Wanda, who once kept Strange company, wants multiversal travel ability not just once but multiple times so that she and her sons can always be together – just skipping one universe for another chasing happy times, or so her logic goes.

Even in all those many universes though – in one sequence, Strange and America fly down a dizzying variety of them – the magic belongs to actual verses, captured in two books. One is the bad book (Darkhold), the other the book of ultimate good (Vishanti). Needless to say, a lot depends on who is holding it at what time.

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Real marvel, on the contrary, isn’t a formula that one can copy off a book. When Marvel gets it right, a lot of things come together — action, humour, warmth, dread, heart, and above all, fun. Helmed by the otherwise foolproof Sam Raimi, The Multiverse of Madness is really a multiverse of muchness, not amounting to much.

‘Are you happy?’ – is the life-altering question raised at many points in the film. There is only one answer if someone needs to ask that repeatedly. As Strange says once, at his eloquent best, ‘No shit, genius’.

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