The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has been going through Phase Four for almost two years now and both Disney and Marvel execs have been hell-bent on reshaping and rebuilding the immersive and expansive worlds of their stories. One of the crucial plot points that this new phase centers on is the concept of the multiverse which we have already seen on a number of shows and films such as Loki, Spider-Man: No Way Home, Marvel’s What If…? series, and even WandaVision. The film that looks to explore this concept even further — with the hopes of even unlocking and opening the door wide for endless possibilities — is Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

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We at This Is Hype Ph, have been given the privilege and honor to be invited by Disney Ph to the Premiere Screening of Marvel Studio’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. It was held a day before the official release here in the Philippines on May 3, 2022, at the Red Carpet Cinema at Shangri-La Plaza.

In order to provide our readers with the best possible viewing experience, we have limited our review to discuss the overall impact of the film, the visual experience that it provides, its provision for a sense of continuity with the bigger MCU story arc, and lastly some of the more notable performances by some of the film’s cast members. We will by all means avoid any significant cameos and storyline details that would tamper with your personal experience with this film.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness: A Brief Overview

The film directly continues from where Spider-Man: No Way Home left us as it dives deeper into the repercussions of Doctor Strange’s spells that inadvertently opened the doorways into the multiverse. Doctor Strange must come face-to-face with the consequences of his actions and along the way must team up with both familiar and new heroes as they unite to combat some of the most difficult and most sinister foes that the heroes have faced to date.

A Mix of Marvel Heroes and Horror

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness | Disney Australia

Director Sam Raimi is no stranger to the director’s chair for a Marvel film — pioneering the Toby Maguire Spider-Man films. The director however is also known for his ability to create spine-tingling horror flicks that also add elements of slapstick humor such as The Evil Dead franchise and Drag Me To Hell. Raimi’s return to a superhero film, specifically that of Marvel, is a celebration of his love for both genres. It was revealed early on from the execs at Marvel Studios that the Doctor Strange sequel was initially supposed to go towards a full-on horror genre route. It may not fully be a horror film but Raimi beautifully crafts some horrific elements into this film with gore, blood, and even scary bodily movements. There are moments that make this film eerie and dark which may initially throw fans off but eventually, it does provide a fresh take on the story without going too far off from the signature MCU direction and tone. This new direction seems fitting to be honest for such a movie such as this as we do know and expect that Dr. Strange’s place in the MCU is more attuned towards the supernatural which makes sense for more horrifying elements to take a front seat.

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The horror tone isn’t just evident in the overall direction of the movie but also in the way that the visual backdrop is set for the movie. The darker hues and eerie visual effects are given a bright spotlight rather than the vivid and colorful gradings that we have seen in previous MCU films. The cinematic experience brings about a heavier looming quality that is matched brilliantly by the storyline itself. The visuals allow room for the story to make even more sense as it compliments the overall path that Doctor Strange and the people around him go through. The visual effects for this film felt to have been toned down as well compared to its first installment. The conjuring of spells and even the visual experiences seen through the mirror dimension and multiverse portals weren’t as in your face as in the first film. It, therefore, didn’t become too overwhelming and neither did it feel like a mere showing off from the special effects department.

An Open Door For The Future of the MCU

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Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness pioneers the endless possibilities that await the MCU. It does feel like just the very beginning of what the future holds as the movie brings about a tying-in of various Marvel properties. We leave this statement as vague and general as possible in order to ensure that no spoilers would be written which is honestly a difficult task on our part. What can be said however is that the level of continuity that Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is in a whole different form. It isn’t just able to tie in the past storylines that have been done in recent times but as well as those that fans of Marvel may not have seen coming.

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The beauty of this film’s continuity is also seen in how it would eventually progress in future films to come. The concept of the multiverse flips everything that fans have come to know regarding the MCU. The multiverse concepts freshen every storyline that has, is, and will exist as it allows countless surprises, twists, and turns. Marvel has also managed to produce great measures for fans to be engaged by giving us exactly what we clamor for while keeping us on our toes as well. This shows the level of appreciation, love, and dedication that the MCU has for its fanbase which in turn is reciprocated equally.

The film on its own however when stripped off of the bigger MCU picture does have its set of flaws. The story’s pacing first and foremost is quite confusing at some points. It starts off with a very quick pace as the first few minutes of the exposition felt rushed while at the same time still providing enough excitement for fans. This pacing however goes through a number of ups and downs throughout the entire running time with some moments feeling a bit sluggish at times. There is also a back and forth in the story that at times feels abrupt and hard to follow as the divisions and cuts portrayed almost two different story arcs. Despite these two stories being seamlessly intertwined and connected, it allowed room for the disparity between them at times. Overall it became a tad bit confusing at times with some plot points and story elements being a bit questionable. It’s expected for a film like Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness for some sort of confusion to occur and as a whole, these minor flaws didn’t really rob us of the excitement and essence that the movie delivers.

A Heavy Story With Profound Acting

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One of the highlights that this film has compared to those before it in the MCU is the level of depth that it brings. It is undoubtedly one of the more thematically heavier films from the franchise to date but one that is exciting brilliantly thanks to the film’s two central leads — Benedict Cumberbatch and Elizabeth Olsen. These two actors showcase their talent and connection to both the character and the material in a very meaningful manner. The level of emotions that were two be drawn out from the characters of Strange and Maximoff was totally different compared to any film that they have been in before and the two actors nailed the delivery and execution. They truly stole the show by hooking viewers through both the subtle and over-the-top moments that were required from their characters. Both shined so brilliantly that there was no denying their talent in the way they portrayed their respective roles.

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That being said, while we are on the topic of the acting choices and character developments in this film, there were also some moments wherein some characters weren’t able to shine as much as fans would have hoped for. There were some inclusions of characters and storylines that felt forced and were done to bring a brief and fleeting moment of excitement. When everything settles down however these moments although being exciting for Marvel and comic book fans — didn’t really bring much to the film as their timing and role in the bigger scheme of things at this point still feels small and insignificant.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Review Final Verdict

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness as a whole excels as a film. It has a few rough moments here and there but these don’t take away from the grandeur and level of excellence in the story and visuals. In light of the bigger scope of things in regards to the MCU continuity, this Doctor Strange sequel is still a fun and exhilarating addition to the MCU. It boasts a unique tone and direction in comparison to other films in the franchise while also opening the door for an unexpected yet exciting future for Marvel. It’s undeniable that these films have been in the keen eye of every film viewer and Marvel fan and at the end of the day, Doctor Strange and all his exploits into the Multiverse are worth the watch.

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