WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers about the film. Read it at your own risk!
After months of speculating, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is now upon us. Prior to the release, there have been rumors about all the crazy cameos that we might see in the film or speculations that this is where they will finally introduce the Mutants into the MCU since we saw a tiny glimpse of Charles Xavier in the trailer. After all the waiting, is the film actually worth watching?
Is Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Worth Watching?
The film started with a scene set in another universe. We saw America Chavez and Defender Strange running away from a demon that has been chasing them. The duo was trying to find the Book of Vishanti. In just the opening scene alone, you knew that Sam Raimi directed the film with the visuals and zany camera shots that he's known for. After Defender Strange was killed, Chavez created a portal that would lead her to the MCU that we know of and the start of the "multiverse of madness."
Within the first 20 minutes of the film, we knew a lot of the important details that would lead to the main problem and conflict of the film whether it's Strange's status post-blip, the fate of his relationship with Christine Palmer, the reason why America Chavez was hopping through multiverses, and the re-introduction of Wanda Maximoff, who has become the Scarlet Witch and corrupted by the Darkhold as depicted first in WandaVision last year.
Back when the film was announced during San Diego Comic-Con in 2019, Kevin Feige was already hinting that the film will have a more horror vibe. Scott Derrickson, who helmed the first film, was originally going to return before he left (although he is still credited as executive producer) and was replaced by Raimi, another horror veteran.
The MCU has been tackling multiple genres in their films and TV shows whether it's a political thriller (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), heist (Ant-Man), or sitcom (WandaVision), but this is the first project that they are tackling the horror genre and there is a reason why they went to Raimi, the man behind the Evil Dead films.
The second half of the film went full-on horror and it is safe to say at this point that this is the most brutal and scariest MCU film to date. There's a lot of gore and killings, maybe more than what you might expect. If we make a list of the best horror film death scenes this year, there is a moment or two from here that might be included. Given that it's directed by Raimi, there are also zombies, monster POVs, psychedelic moments, a memorable cameo by Bruce Campbell, and an awesome score by Danny Elfman accompanying them.
As the title suggested, the character travels through the multiverse. While he did travel on different universes, you might have to temper your expectations as most universes only appeared for a very quick second. The universe that they ended up arriving at (or Earth-838 as they named it) is the one that has the most spoiler-y part. As expected, they introduced the universe's Mordo who would end up leading them to the cameos that fans have been waiting for.
For months, we've been hearing rumors and speculations regarding the cameo appearances that we might see and, as the trailers and TV spots already hinted, it was in the Illuminati. We already know that Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart reprising the role), Mordo, and Captain Carter are part of the group and then there are also other members that the marketing hasn't confirmed.
If you've seen the leaks (which are impossible to avoid if you scroll a lot on Twitter, YouTube, and Reddit), you might have an idea already about the other members. Similar to Spider-Man: No Way Home, when they introduced the members, there were cheers from the audience at the screening that I was in.
It is fun to see the cameo appearances and show up for a decent amount of time. It is a fan service moment, but it's still satisfying and works enough for the story. However, if you're expecting a lot of cameos, you might have to temper your expectations since there are really not a lot of surprising characters throughout the film.
The third act is when the film became full-on Raimi to the point that I personally thought that I was seeing an Evil Dead film since there is zombie and dark magic involved as well as quick comedic moments. The way they resolved the film might be controversial for some fans. Personally, I think they went in a satisfying direction at the end, but I can see some people disagree with them and slam the decision.
As for the performances, Elizabeth Olsen easily stood out among the cast and it helps that the material gave her a lot to do. Benedict Cumberbatch was also great as the multiple variants of Strange. Xochitl Gomez made a great first impression as America Chavez. Benedict Wong had a lot of awesome moments. Rachel McAdams had a larger presence in the film than what you might expect or the trailers suggested.
With all the bonkersness, horror tone, and Raimi going full-on Raimi, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse is a fun ride at the end. It is not a top-tier MCU entry, but it is an enjoyable one. Also, stay for both the post-credits scene. The first one is a game-changer with another surprise while the second one is a fun treat. So is Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness worth watching? Absolutely.