Doctor Strange 2 polarises critics as full reviews drop: A ‘new low’ or a ‘stroke of genius’?

·3-min read

The reviews for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, the latest film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, are finally out.

Starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the cocksure mystic Stephen Strange, and Elizabeth Olsen as the witchy Wanda Maximoff, Multiverse of Madness is directed by Spider-Man and The Evil Dead’s Sam Raimi.

The story follows on from the events of last year’s Spider-Man: No Way Home, and finds its protagonist wrestling with various entities from across the Marvel mulitverse.

In her two-star review for The Independent, film critic Clarisse Loughrey wrote: “Any opportunity to really put the ‘madness’ in this multiverse is spoiled by the crowded, intersecting desires of its three main characters.

Multiverse of Madness is, inevitably, a Sam Raimi film in aesthetics only – a little like if you pampered a sewer rat, popped a pink bow on its head, and sold it as a chihuahua.”

However, the review praised the performance off Olsen: “Remarkably, she still delivers as raw and honest a performance as you can while floating in front of a green screen repeating the same variation of ‘I’m not a monster, I’m a mother’ ad nauseam.”

While initial reactions to the film had been wildly enthusiastic, full reviews for the film have been thoroughly mixed.

Benedict Cumberbatch in ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness' (Marvel Studios)
Benedict Cumberbatch in ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness' (Marvel Studios)

The Telegraph’s Robbie Collin gave the film two stars, writing: “If you enjoy watching a handful of randomly selected branded characters wisecrack, squabble and mope while pretending to fly around and shoot fireballs at the virtual scenery, here comes another two hours of that...

“The idea that Raimi’s signature touch amounts to rewarming old flourishes from his work over the last four decades is a wildly embarrassing and juvenile way to think about filmmaking: what you actually get here is the Marvel house style with Raimi flavouring sprinkled on top, and anything that feels outrageous only does so in the context of the franchise’s fussily restrictive rule set.”

Kevin Maher in The Times describes the film as “another water-treading exercise from Marvel”, writing in a two-star review that it “borrows No Way Home’s multiverse-themed subject matter and its penchant for showy cameos, but without any of the feelgood pizzazz”.

Empires Dan Jolin was more positive, opining: “The Multiverse Of Madness is noisy, frantic and at times a little messy, but it’s never less than entertaining.

“The MCU faithful will cheer its numerous call-backs; Raimi-heads will groove on its Raiminess; and we suspect even those bewildered, unprimed viewers will at least appreciate the way it 100 per cent lives up to its title.”

The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw awarded the film three stars, writing: “The multiverse madness is treated with genial high-energy panache, though I have to say that this infinite profusion of realities does not actually feel all that different in practice from the shapeshifting, retconning world of all the other Avengers films.

“And infinite realities tend to reduce the dramatic impact of any one single reality, and reduces what there is at stake in a given situation. Nonetheless, it’s handled with lightness and fun.”

Benedict Cumberbatch in ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness' (Marvel Studios)
Benedict Cumberbatch in ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness' (Marvel Studios)

The Evening Standards Charlotte O’Sullivan, meanwhile, gave the film a rave. In the outlet’s five-star write-up, she wrote: “Aside from a draggy middle-section, your eyes will never stop popping.

“A sequence in which Strange and America [Chavez, played by Xochitl Gomez] hurtle through the universe(s) and temporarily become gurning blobs of paint is as memorable as anything in Pixar’s Inside Out. The bit where Strange does battle with himself via weaponised musical notes is one long stroke of genius.”

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is out in UK cinemas on Friday.

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