REVIEW: Doctor Strange sequel proves to be a crazy romp in ‘Multiverse of Madness’
With hints of horror in its DNA and pure superhero craziness, the return of Benedict Cumberbatch and co. – new characters in tow – is weirdly fun and cumbersome at the same time. But mostly fun, as our reviewer opines.
By Abdukareem Baba Aminu
It’s stating the obvious that ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ has a lot resting on its shoulders. After all, it is coming after the highly successful ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’, the last Marvel movie wherein the titular sorcerer had a major role. That movie, starring Tom Holland and Zendaya, went on to gross well over $1.8 billion, becoming the sixth-highest grossing movie of all time. Set in several universes at once – and regularly ricocheting into deeper and more spiraling dimensions of alternate realities – the plot for Dr. Stephen Strange’s second solo film begins with fully-formed chaos.
It opens with America Chavez and an alternate version of Dr. Stephen Strange fleeing through the space between universes to find the Book of Vishanti to stop a demon chasing them. Strange is killed, and Chavez accidentally creates a portal that sucks them all in. Meanwhile, on our Earth, Strange is at the wedding of his ex-fiancé, where a tentacle monster wreaks havoc chasing Chavez, but Strange saves Chavez and kills the demon with help from Sorcerer Supreme Wong. Chavez explains that the demons are hunting her because she has the power to travel through the Multiverse, and it is at that exact point it becomes clear that this will be a crazy romp of a movie.
There is a lot at stake in the film, and at the same time, there isn’t much, as it’s leaning heavily into the whole Multiverse shtick, which makes long-lasting consequences spare and far between.
Strange finds traces of witchcraft on the demon and alternate-reality Strange’s corpse, and he consults Wanda Maximoff, finding out secrets that send the story spiraling into the dark story it becomes. There is a lot at stake in the film, and at the same time, there isn’t much, as it’s leaning heavily into the whole Multiverse shtick, which makes long-lasting consequences spare and far between. Like when a major character is in danger and you know somehow that the whole alternate reality situation will ensure he or she comes out unscathed. But if that sounds like a complaint, forgive me, it’s not: Because that’s where some of the biggest, sweetest goodies in this film lurk.
After a ton of magical battles pitting sorcery against witchcraft and giving us some really heartfelt performances from a notable Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda, we (and Strange) end up in the courtyard of this reality’s version of the Illuminati, which in the comics is a collective of some of the most powerful and brilliant characters in the Marvel universe. The theatre I watched the movie in exploded in cheers at this point, as member after member of the shadowy super-group was introduced. It goes without saying that some of the surprise appearances are truly jaw-dropping.
This movie is probably the most important one in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU to hardcore fans) since ‘Avengers: Endgame’, continuing the shared continuity’s foray into an exploration of parallel universes. Theoretically, this should make it even more compelling and fun, but I found myself exhausted at the end, even when what’s played out is saying I should be satisfied. Don’t get me wrong: It’s a very engrossing movie, but one which presents the irony of being interesting and at the same time feeling like a walk through 10-inch snowfall. Or mud, depending on where your geographical idioms rest.
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It’s a very engrossing movie, but one which presents the irony of being interesting and at the same time feeling like a walk through 10-inch snowfall. Or mud, depending on where your geographical idioms rest.
Of course, there will be stellar performances galore, led by the perfectly-cast and always on-point Cumberbatch, Benedict Wong as stoic Sorcerer Supreme Wong, and brilliantly precocious Multiverse-hopping teen America Chavez played by equally brilliant Xochitl Gomez. Elizabeth Olsen, too, shines as she does in all her MCU appearances, giving layers and nuance to the tragically heartbroken (or just broken) character of Wanda Maximoff, whose spiral into all shades of darkness needs to be seen. After all, she’s had enough revving time in the absolutely perfect Disney+ series ‘WandaVision’.
We are, as the movie title posits, treated to a variety of alternate universes, some of which will have you cheering. But by the end of the film, all two hours-plus of it, you will find yourself wanting more. Almost like wanting a whole meal for a snack after a full dinner. But I forgive director Sam Raimi since he is making his first movie in nine years. Only he could cook up a gloriously inventive fight scene fought with literal musical notes. And yet I couldn’t help but feel there’s an ‘anything-goes-ness’ to all of it, similar to his over-the-top campy offerings of the past like the ‘Evil Dead’ films, or ‘Drag Me to Hell’.
But I forgive director Sam Raimi since he is making his first movie in nine years. Only he could cook up a gloriously inventive fight scene fought with literal musical notes.
With all its contradictions, however, ‘Multiverse of Madness’ proves itself a continuation of MCU tradition, that which satisfies long-waiting fans with a strangely satisfying ending, prompts multiple viewings and inspires speculation about the future direction of the franchise. This is more so, after the Illuminati encounter, and at the end of the movie in a mid-credits scene, when a major character in the Dr. Strange comics makes her debut, played by a surprising actress. It was a genuine surprise, really, as much as it was a pleasant one that holds strong promise. So strong that it warrants repeated viewings to take it all in. Nothing strange about that.
‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ is showing now in cinemas.
Attorney says Jonathan Majors isn’t the villain, video will prove he’s innocent
Jonathan Majors says he is the victim of domestic violence allegations that led to his arrest in New York. The actor’s attorney Priya Chaudhry released a statement on Sunday that the “Creed III” and “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” star “is completely innocent and is provably the victim of an altercation with a woman he knows” and expects charges will be dropped.
The New York Police Department confirmed in a statement on Saturday that Majors, 33, was taken into custody after officers received a 911 call from a Manhattan apartment where a 30-year-old woman said she had been assaulted. The woman was taken to the hospital, the statement says.
On Sunday, the Manhattan district attorney’s office said Majors had been arraigned on multiple charges, including assault and aggravated harassment. In the complaint, the woman claimed she was struck with an open hand, causing a laceration behind her ear, and suffered bruising and pain when “the defendant put his hand on her neck.”
Majors’ attorney says she is submitting evidence to the district attorney “with the expectation that all charges will be dropped imminently.”
“This evidence includes video footage from the vehicle where this episode took place, witness testimony from the driver and others who both saw and heard the episode, and most importantly, two written statements from the woman recanting these allegations,” Chaudhry said. “All the evidence proves that Mr. Majors is entirely innocent and did not assault her whatsoever.”
On Saturday, a judge granted a limited order of protection and released Majors on his own recognizance. The next court date is May 8.
Majors’ attorney claims the dispute occurred because the woman “was having an emotional crisis, for which she was taken to a hospital yesterday.”
“The NYPD is required to make an arrest in these situations, and this is the only reason Mr. Majors was arrested,” she said. “We expect these charges to be dropped soon. We look forward to clearing his name and clearing this up,” the statement said.
What led to Jonathan Majors’ arrest, according to police? Officers responded to a call within the 10 Precinct at approximately 11:14 a.m. ET Saturday. “A preliminary investigation determined that a 33-year-old male was involved in a domestic dispute with a 30-year-old female. The victim informed police she was assaulted. Officers placed the 33-year-old male into custody without incident. The victim sustained minor injuries to her head and neck and was removed to an area hospital in stable condition,” the police statement said.
Majors is a rising star in Hollywood, seen two weeks ago on the Oscars stage, presenting best cinematography with Michael B. Jordan. The Yale-educated actor, an Emmy nominee for HBO’s “Lovecraft Country,” recently joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Kang the Conqueror and is slated to headline “Avengers: The Kang Dynasty” in 2025. The actor stepped into the ring with Jordan as Damian Anderson in the boxing drama “Creed III,” and starred as real-life Navy aviator Jesse Brown in the Korean War drama “Devotion.”
Next up, he stars as an amateur bodybuilder in “Magazine Dreams” (set for release in December) and plays mercurial basketball icon Dennis Rodman in “48 Hours in Vegas.”
Disney absorbs Marvel Entertainment, sacks Chairman Ike Perlmutter
Per a report on Variety, Disney’s cost-cutting measures have reached to the top echelons of the company: Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter, chairman of Marvel Entertainment, has been laid off, as his division — which is separate from Marvel Studios — is absorbed into other units of Disney.
Along with Perlmutter, Marvel Entertainment’s co-president, Rob Steffens, and chief counsel, John Turitzin, were also dismissed. A Disney spokesperson confirmed the departures.
The 80-year-old Perlmutter was at the center of activist investor Nelson Peltz’s months-long fight to join the Disney board. Variety reported in February that Perlmutter’s backing of Peltz was due at least in part to CEO Bob Iger’s decision to sever Perlmutter’s control of Marvel Studios in 2015, which reduced Marvel Entertainment to not much more than consumer products.
Peltz ended his proxy battle in February after Iger announced his plan to reduce costs by $5.5 billion, which included reducing the workforce by 7,000 employees, as well as the expected return of the dividend payment for shareholders by the end of 2023.
‘John Wick’ spinoff ‘The Ballerina’ to be released in 2024
As ‘John Wick: Chapter 4’ continues to dominate the box office, Lionsgate executive Joe Drake revealed the studio’s target release window for the upcoming spinoff, ‘The Ballerina’. He confirmed that the studio is currently planning to release the Ana de Armas-led action thriller in either the spring or summer of 2024. Production for the first ‘John Wick’ spinoff movie took place in Prague and began last November 2022.
‘The Ballerina’ is directed by Len Wiseman, who previously helmed 2012’s ‘Total Reboot’ and five ‘Underworld’ films. Written by Oscar winner Emerald Fennell, the story is expected to follow a young female assassin as she goes on a mission to seek revenge against the people responsible for the murder of her family. Franchise star Keanu Reeves previously confirmed that the spinoff will be set between the events of ‘John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum’ and its latest 2023 instalment.
The film is inspired by a scene from 2019’s ‘Parabellum’, where fans were introduced to the Ruska Roma syndicate, the organization that trained young boys and girls into becoming lethal assassins. Leading the spinoff is Oscar nominee De Armas who has signed for the role of Rooney. Like former Ruska Roma member John Wick, Rooney went through grueling and rigorous training at an early age, under the supervision of Angelica Huston’s The Director. In addition to Reeves and Huston, Ian McShane and the late Lance Reddick will also appear once again in their respective roles as Winston and Charon.
Besides ‘The Ballerina’, Lionsgate is also currently working on the impending Peacock premiere of its John Wick prequel series, titled ‘The Continental’. The 3-part limited drama will revolve around the origins of The Continental New York’s manager Winston, and loyal concierge Charon, who are respectively portrayed by Colin Woodell and Ayomide Adegun. The series is expected to chronicle how a young Winston Scott manages to establish a safe haven for assassins. In addition to Woodell and Adegun, it will also feature the introduction of Mel Gibson as Cormac and Katie McGrath as The Adjudicator.
As for the future of the main series, director Chad Stahelski recently revealed that he and Reeves are planning to take a hiatus from the blockbuster franchise following the theatrical release of ‘John Wick: Chapter 4’. ‘John Wick: Chapter 4’ is now showing worldwide.