Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness2022.

Directed by Sam Raimi.
With Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, Xochitl Gomez, Michael Stuhlbarg and Rachel McAdams.

SYNOPSIS:

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madnessthe latest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is coming to digital, with 4K, Blu-ray and DVD editions slated for July 26th. It’s another fine addition to the MCU, setting the stage for some cool things to come on screens big and small during the fourth phase of the MCU.

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It’s an interesting time for fans of the science fiction, fantasy and superhero genres. There are several must-see movies every year, and so far one studio, Warner Bros., has released its theatrical movies online as they hit silver screens around the world.

Meanwhile, the time between a theatrical release and a home video premiere decreased significantly, with many studios opting to release digital first and optical disc a few weeks later. (And in Disney’s case, review copies, like the one I received for this movie, are digital only).

And with the COVID-19 pandemic still unfolding, there’s certainly a question as to whether the theater experience has been forever altered. Theaters are back up and running these days, though box office receipts don’t appear to have returned to pre-pandemic levels, based on a reading of the latest Box Office Mojo numbers.

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It’s my long way of wondering where the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) goes from here. Of course, people still go to the cinema, but for how much longer? TVs are getting bigger, better and cheaper, and a decent sound system isn’t a very expensive add-on. You can get closer to the theatrical experience in the privacy of your own home, even if you rely solely on streaming.

And this crossroads has come just as the MCU enters its fourth phase. Where the first three phases laid the groundwork, this fourth phase promises to put a new spin on the characters, much like how modern comics have reimagined their decades-old worlds.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a big part of this new phase, introducing us to alternate versions of not only the main character but others as well, as well as multiple versions of Earth. Earth-616 is the main timeline we’ve known and loved since Iron Man hit the big screen in 2008, but Earth-838 and its alternate versions of many characters also feature prominently in this story.

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The plot is quite basic: Doctor Strange must protect America Chavez, a young girl who has the power to travel across the multiverse; she has already encountered another version of Strange. When she ends up on Earth-616 and encounters this version of Doctor Strange, he tries to find out what’s going on only to discover that the Scarlet Witch wants America for her own ends.

And so the race is on across the multiverse. It helps if you have seen the Wanda Vision series on Disney+, though it’s not required, and avid viewers of other MCU movies and TV shows will be rewarded with all sorts of movie-layered nods and winks.

Overall, the film is a fun ride. It’s not that crazy Everything everywhere all at once, but it doesn’t have to be, especially since it needs to set the stage for other MCU Phase Four movies and TV shows. We’re now entering an era of always-on story universes, where you don’t have much time to digest the latest movie or TV show before the next one arrives (and many franchises are vying for your attention).

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Here’s what you’ll find in the digital version; the bonus features begin with a one-minute introduction from director Sam Raimi, which I think may be unique to this release.

Audio commentary: Director Sam Raimi, writer Michael Waldron and co-producer Richie Palmer talk about the film. It’s an entertaining discussion of the film’s genesis and the various creative decisions that were made along the way. It’s an interesting listen, especially for MCU fans.

Building the Multiverse (11 mins): As the title suggests, this is an overview of the work that went into creating alternate versions of our heroes and keeping them all straight.

Introducing America Chavez (3.5 mins): This is a character who first appeared in the Marvel Comics Universe in 2011 and makes his MCU debut with this film.

Crazy method (5 minutes): A particular focus on Sam Raimi’s approach to the film. It’s nice to see him working with Marvel characters again.

Three inconsequential deleted scenes and a gag reel round out this release.

Scintillating Myth Rating – Film: ★★★★ / Film: ★★★★

Brad Cook

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