Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness ★★★★★
Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Xochitl Gomez, Benedict Wong
Still containing the fun, playful energy that the MCU has so fondly created, Sam Raimi brings a nuanced auteur-fuelled horror film, using the multiverse and all things Strange to guide his story,
There's so much at play here; whether multiversal variants, devilish goatees or magical minotaurs, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness puts all of its energy in the right places, and still brings compelling character work for the two lead characters.
The first of which is Benedict Cumberbatch's Doctor Stephen Strange, the character within the MCU who possibly has the heaviest baggage on his shoulders. Cumberbatch unsurprisingly carries the story and is finding fresh choreography and avenues of exploration for his character. He delivers stoic lines and proves that he could go on to head up Earth's mightiest heroes with no onlooking doubt in the future!
Elizabeth Olsen's Wanda Maximoff has travelled a complex road in the MCU. From villain to hero to hero to villain, she is always likeable but constantly fragile. Here she delivers a joint best performance with her work on TV show WandaVision, and brings a darkness to the film that garnishes Sam Raimi's intentions.
Sam Raimi is one of the greatest horror directors of all time, and here he mixes horror and comedy again, calling back to his work on the Evil Dead trilogy, whilst still balancing Marvel stories and plot concepts in a way that no other Phase Four project has quite managed to do; it's his best work in years.
His iconic fade and whip cuts are present throughout, and never does he let the superhero world get too much for him, playing around with his iconic techniques to make for exciting action sequences and spine-tingling horror moments. A musical battle in the final act is one of the most creative things I've seen in a superhero flick and it's executed magnificently.
Not only is all of the above happening, but we're also introduced to a brand new character America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) who is instantly likeable and unabashedly individual.
The multiverse opened and so did Sam Raimi's creative labyrinth. For those worried for the direction of Phase Four of the MCU, just learn to relish in its newfound originality and creative ambition.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness available in cinemas now