movie review: Doctor Strange 2, Doctor Harder

What did I watch: Doctor Strange in The Multiverse of Madness

Is the title telling you that this is a story called The Multiverse of Madness, or that he’s located in a Multiverse of Madness? Oh, wow, it works both ways!

Okay, watch Spider-Man 2 (from 2004). THEN watch Evil Dead 2 (1987?). THEN watch Army of Darkness and Darkman. Sam Raimi, everyone. Spidey 2 was such a fantastic movie, leaps and bounds in improvement from not just the first Spider-Man movie but also other superhero movies it followed that were successful, and a few that follow after. Nothing looks like it or flows like it. It’s ridiculous when it’s goofy and terrifying when it’s scary. Maybe a few things don’t hold up like, I don’t know, the continuity, which was referenced in the 3rd of the recent “home” Spidey films…that I haven’t seen. Now, we all enjoy the current MCU films, as we are legally required. But regardless of who is piecing these films together, they all look and feel pretty much the same. Big shiny light shows as the same cast goes from setpiece to setpiece on greenscreens in stories that have no impact in the long run. I’m a crab-monster, by the way. But they seem groundbreaking if you haven’t seen movies before.

I don’t really care about the backstory, but instead of pulling another ambition director from the indie circuit or film school or ensemble TV or whatever, Marvel pulled…Sam Raimi? Out of where? He didn’t have anything else to do? I guess at some point, even if you’re a big name director (he is), you can’t get a movie made unless it’s tied to tentpole blockbuster nonsense that becomes semi forgettable after the next installment of an unwieldy expensive cgi  serial. Raimi knows how to make MOVIES. Some maybe don’t hold up, but they look like his unique crazy vision. Hell, Darkman felt more like a superhero comic book more than the Tim Burton Batman movie a couple years earlier (which, yeah, did also feel like a unique vision that also looked like a comic book). But it definitely feels like a riskier adventure with more at stake for its protagonist than movies based on comic books since. And he had made the Evil Dead movies, with the 2nd being a wild ride in not just horror but also comedy, and Army Of Darkness being a ridiculous swashbuckling homage to the Three Stooges and Ray Harryhausen.

I don’t need to describe the previous Doctor Strange and MCU movies, do I? I hadn’t seen the latest Spidey “Home” movie, of which Strange was a big part. Here, the movie opens with a new threat to the MCU, a portal hopping character who is not Portal from the Darkhawk comic, but America Chavez (?). She is thrust into the MCU from another dimension where monsters are chasing her, and brings with her a dead Doctor Strange who was also trying to kill her as an act of mercy to save the universe. WELL, Doctor Strange is having none of this, and takes her to the Fortress of Sorcery or wherever for safekeeping. He consults with Scarlet Witch. I haven’t seen Wandavision, so I didn’t do my homework. But, Wanda is evil now because she has seen a version of herself as a happy mother in a home where her two sons don’t clean up after themselves, and she demands Strange hand over America. A battle ensues and America wisks herself and Strange to another dimension where the Avengers are replaced by the Illuminati, who reveal that Strange is a jerk no matter what he does in any dimension, risking the lives of countless others just because he thinks he’s always right about everything. Well, Wanda possesses herself from this dimension and more battles ensues and ouch, I can’t believe they allowed all this in a PG13 Disney movie.

And yeah, it’s just CGI on top of CGI but there’s CAMERA ANGLES and framing that match the kind of energy that, uh, feels like a Sam Raimi movie. I don’t know how much of this was actually him or assistant directors or CGI farms taking notes and copying his signature visual style; Spider-Man 2 has an intense scene where Doc Ock is about to have his robotic arms surgically removed, and it screams classic Sam Raimi, and it was the 2nd unit team (according to the commentary). So, I didn’t know what to expect, and there were surprises. It wasn’t just people beating each other up (though, c’mon, it is). There were scary encounters between our super powered characters, and you didn’t know WHAT was going to happen. But, as the movie tells you, Doctor Strange will return.

Also, if you’ve been in a relationship and it ended and you miss that person and you try to move on as they do, ouch, this movie.

Was it good? Meh. I don’t care. It was okay, I laughed, I got swept up, it was fun, I’ll forget it somewhat soon.

But the cameos, the return of Picard, Jim from The Office… Yeah, okay, I get it. It’s a movie and they’re all characters and actors who play them. Who knows if this was a teaser for things to come. They can throw money at whatever they want. It’s just a bunch of connected movies and everyone wants in. Maybe you like it, maybe you won’t. I’m a crab.

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