Director Sam Raimi
Screenplay Michael Waldron
Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, Xochitl Gomez, Michael Stuhlbarg, Rachel McAdams

Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is likely the most complicated film seen by this viewer since Inception. The concepts and the movement from one place to another requires one’s full attention and then some. There is a strange feeling that this film will get better with repeated viewings. It’s already pretty damn good.

The story starts out in a dream which leads develops into a nightmare. Then Dr. Strange (Cumberbatch) wakes up and heads to the wedding of Christine Palmer, which is another nightmare, which the sorcerer is reluctant to admit to himself. Before the nuptuals can be completed someone from Strange’s dream (Gomez) ends up being chased by a giant octopus demon, which Wong (Wong) and Strange dispatch.

After talking to the girl, they discover her name is America Chavez and that the demon is one of many that has been sent after her in order to capture her unique ability to travel through the multiverse. She’d been seeking help from Strange in each universe she’s been in, each with similar results, in that, she’s still running. After recognizing signs of witchcraft, Strange goes to Wanda (Olson) and seeks her help. What he gets is something he doesn’t expect or want.

The rest of the film plays a bit like something from The Terminator series. As Strange and his new companion go through improbable locations, his persuer is not far behind and ultimately cannot be stopped. There are many gruesome deaths in the wake of the pursuit. This is definitely the most horrific of all the films in the MCU. Even when we get pleasant moments of light, the hounds of hell are right behind.

Raimi gets to use everything in his toolbox in this story. There is something representative of every point in his career and then some. The effects are as much a high point here as they were in the first film, but this time it is so much more dark. Even with the worst possible things happening the viewer is never so much horrified as they are entertained.

If there is a drawback to this story, it might be the continuation of the unstable element within the character of the film’s primary antagonist. It is a story that we’ve seen swing back and forth a few times here and it’s doubtful the resolution of the character will feel complete to most viewers. Even so, the performance stands out for the fear instilled in the protagonists and the viewer.

One thing is for sure, Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is rewatchable. A single viewing is enough to make one feel they missed at least 2/3 of what is happening on the screen in front of them. One may feel the film is even better after a few more viewings, or maybe not as good. Until the next time they watch it.

(**** out of *****)

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