Feature Length Films

Mr. Khan’s Review on Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)

A review on American Superhero film, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022). The film is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase Four films and is directed by Sam Raimi. Benedict Cumberbatch reprises his role as the mystic doctor of magic accompanied by Elizabeth Olsen as the Scarlet Witch, Xochitl Gomez , Benedict Wong and Rachel McAdams. The film is a continuation of the saga from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and is now in cinemas.

+ Crew

  • Directed by Sam Raimi
  • Screenplay by Michael Waldron
  • Cinematography by John Mathieson
  • Music by Danny Elfman
  • Edited by Bob Murawski and Tia Nolan
  • Production by Marvel Studios
  • Distributed by Walt Disney Studios and Motion Pictures 

+ Note

Scott Derrickson, the director of the first film, was originally going to direct the sequel also but due to creative differences with the executives of Marvel Studios, he decided to step down. Enter; Sam Raimi. Ever since Spider-man 3 (2007), Raimi had not gone back to directing superhero films until he was approached by Marvel Studios to direct the sequel to Doctor Strange. Due to Raimi’s creative style of filmmaking, it was promised that the sequel would contain elements of which Raimi is revered for such as comedic gore and violence, pushing the boundaries of a PG-13 rated film. The film was also promised to be much more visually complex and creative than any other Marvel film before.

Now that Sam Raimi was set to direct, he also brought in his long time collaborator Danny Elfman to produce music for the film. Due to the pandemic, the film’s release was shifted to next year, 2022. The film is currently in cinemas with mostly positive reviews from critics and moviegoers alike. 

+ Main Cast

  1. Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange
  2. Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch
  3. Chiwetel Ejiofor as Karl Mordo
  4. Benedict Wong as Wong
  5. Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez
  6. Michael Stuhlbarg as Nicodemus West
  7. Rachel McAdams as Christine Palmer

+ Plot

The sequel to the first Doctor Strange film takes place directly after the WandaVision (2021) show from Disney+. The mystic doctor dreams of himself and this unknown girl who can open portals to other dimensions. After meeting the same girl in the real world, Strange quickly realizes that the dreams were in part of a multi dimensional reality that is being threatened by a mysterious evil being who is in search of this girl’s portal wielding abilities. Meanwhile Doctor Strange visits Wanda to uncover the mystery of the Multiverse. And what follows, is what the Doctor perhaps never ordered…

+ High Points

i – The film is a fun watch throughout its runtime. With Sam Raimi back in his superhero gig, his knack for fast paced storytelling combined with dark humor and lively characters is what makes the sequel of Doctor Strange standout from the rest of the MCU films. And an unusual antagonist of the film was incredibly refreshing in my book. Even with inevitable studio mandates, this is undeniably a Sam Raimi film filled with glorious, unapologetic tongue in cheek gore and violence. And I can very well imagine this will not be everyone’s cup of tea. Those who are content with the so-called “Marvel formula” will be perplexed and disappointed but honestly, MCU definitely needs more experimentation like this film or the deeply disturbing Moon Knight series on Disney+. I had a blast watching this film and with its recent box office success, I hope the MCU execs give more leverage to film directors with a clear vision. In short; less of Ant-Man and more of Doctor Strange 2.

ii – Sam Raimi, oh how I miss thee! Whether you enjoy his work or not, you cannot deny the energy and dedication that he brings to every one of his films (yes, even Spider-man 3!). As mentioned above, this film has all the Sam Raimi tropes you can think of; cheesy one liners, homage to his earlier Evil Dead series, extras who can’t act, Bruce Campbell cameo, the works. Doctor Strange in MoM is far from being Superhero film masterpiece like The Dark Knight (2008) or The Avengers (2012), but it brings a lot of energy and a sense of excitement to each and every scene. From framing, camera movement, editing or music, the director utilizes each and every aspect of its craft to elevate the capacity of filmmaking to its potential. There were numerous scenes where I went “Huh, I’ve never seen that happen in a Marvel film before..” and not since Avengers: Infinity War (2018) did I have that feeling for a MCU film.

 MoM also has a mad third act which made me enjoy the film even more. And above everything else, MoM has what the first Doctor Strange couldn’t; a sense of personality. 

iii – There are many out there who protest that this film should have been called ‘Wanda in the Multiverse of Madness’ and they are half right cause Elizabeth Olsen just stole the show away from Cumberbatch with her performance. Thrusted into a role she is not used to playing, Olsen did a great job in diving into her character’s tortured persona and bring out the pain and suffering through her acting chops. But needless to say Benedict Cumberbatch as the mystic Doctor Strange and Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez played their part in investing the viewer into the world of Doctor Strange.

iv – For the most part, MoM is a self-contained story and is not too busy paying homages or building up sequels. There are obviously some fan service cameos in the film from the characters even casual audiences can recognize but it was never egregious or out of place to the context of the film.  

v – In most cases, Dr Strange 2 can easily be described as a horror film with a cheeky sense of humor. And I am genuinely surprised that with a PG-13 rating, how Marvel managed to get away with most of its gory horror scenes. This will inevitably drive away younger audiences or in cases, will make them sleep with the night light on but if you know Sam Raimi and his previous works, you should have expected it by now. Personally, I found it thoroughly entertaining. 

vi – The score by the legendary Danny Elfman was fantastic and a massive contributing factor to the enjoyment of the film. Elfman was obviously hired due to the insistence of Raimi since they had worked together on the Spider-man trilogy.

+ Low Points

i – Doctor Strange in MoM has certain problems, mainly in the storytelling department. The pacing and flow of the narrative is not as smooth as Raimi’s previous films and feels disjointed at times, especially in the final act. Now, did it break my sense of enjoyment? Heck no but I can imagine for some, this could prove to be an issue. 

ii – With a title like ‘… in the Multiverse of Madness’, one cannot help but wonder if there could have been more ‘Madness’ added into the mix? With the premise of Multiverse, I wish we could have seen more parallel universes and different timelines with different Earths and so on. 

iii –  Even though the final act was a lot of fun to experience, the resolution did seem very ordinary and was disappointing to say the least. With all its issues, the first Doctor Strange (2017) did have an unusual resolution to a world threatening problem. If you know the premise, you know how the antagonist will be defeated.

iv – The film relies heavily on the ending to the Disney+ TV series, WandaVision (2021) and that’s not a great way to bring in new viewers. Those who are not aware of the TV series will be left confused as to what is actually going on. Make films more accessible or at least a narrative recap to the reference. The film’s plot kicks off with basically no prior explanations or recaps and hope that you are up to speed with everything Marvel. This could be one of the bigger contributing factors as to why some audience members will feel a bit lost throughout the film.

+ Overall

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is not a perfect film by any means but it easily covers its flaws with fun, fast paced actions, tongue in cheek horror and a personality all of its own.

Rate : out of 5 stars

TV series

Mr. Khan’s Review on WandaVision (Ep 1-3) (2021)

A review on American Television miniseries, WandaVision (2021). The miniseries is directed by Matt Shakman and stars Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda/ Scarlet Witch and Paul Bettany as Vision. The show is a continuance of the saga from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and is a Disney Plus Original series.

+ Crew

  • Directed by Matt Shakman
  • Cinematography by Jess Hall
  • Music by Christophe Beck
  • Produced by Chuck Hayward
  • Created by Jac Schaeffer
  • Production by Marvel Studios
  • Distributed by Disney Platform Distribution 

+ Note

WandaVision is continuation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Phase 4) where we get to explore more the relationship between the two popular Marvel characters; Scarlet Witch and Vision. The series is cleverly disguised as an American vintage comedy sitcom with multi camera setup and canned laughter from the audience in a (supposedly) TV Studio. WandaVision is clearly inspired from 50s-60s sitcoms like ‘I Love Lucy’, ‘Bewitched’ and later in color, ‘The Brady Bunch’, where situational comedy plays a key role to the show’s premise. Since Disney Plus has only released three episodes up till now, it is still unclear where they are heading with this but one can safely assume, WandaVision is unlike anything MCU has produced up till now.

+ Main Cast

  1. Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch
  2. Paul Bettany as Vision
  3. Debra Jo Rupp as Mrs. Hart
  4. Fred Melamed as Arthur Hart
  5. Kathryn Hahn as Agnes
  6. Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau
  7. Kat Dennings as Darcy Lewis
  8. Randall Park as Jimmy Woo

+ Plot

WandaVision starts off in 1950s suburban America. A husband and a loving wife have just moved in a house next door but unbeknownst to the neighbourhood, they are no ordinary couple. In fact, they are the famous Avengers; Scarlet Witch and Vision who hide their super powers in order to live a happy, wholesome life. But something doesn’t seem right about this scenario. It’s almost too… perfect? How did present day Avengers end up in decades old American TV sitcoms? Where or how did they enter this delightful comedy of errors? What is exactly wrong with WandaVision?

+ High Points

i – The “I Love Lucy” meets “Bewitched” 50s situational comedy is perfectly replicated to a tee. The dialogue, costume design, make up, Production design; it perfectly fits to the vision (no pun intended) of what Marvel Studios were going for.

ii – Since working together in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany have really grown accustomed to each other’s performances and are just picture perfect. For this show to work, their onscreen chemistry is undeniably vital and it’s always a treat to see them together onscreen.

iii – Ever since the trailer for the show came out, WandaVision felt unique and bold to what MCU fans were, for many years, accustomed to. After the end of the Thanos and the Infinity stones saga, MCU needed to move into a fresh new direction as the lack of innovative ideas made MCU films (for the most part) extremely predictable. And WandaVision does exactly that.

iv – The dialogues and humor of the show is witty, charming and at times, also very dark. The show does have a slight “David Lynch” surrealist vibe to it. One minute, you are witnessing a cute sing and dance number, the next you see someone on the dinner table, choking himself on a piece of meat. I loved it!

v – The multiple opening theme songs/ jingles are memorable and composed wonderfully by Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez and Christophe Beck.

vi – The “Hand drawn” animations in between live action set-pieces play wonderfully to the overall vibe and atmosphere of the show. Love these little but essential touches that they’ve given to it!

vii – The “advertisements” in between the show are the “Bees knees!”. ‘Nuff said!

viii – Although only 3 episodes are out at the moment, the show has me hooked! The story and pacing takes its time but is extremely rewarding in the grand scheme of things. Let’s see where it all leads us to.

+ Low Points

i – The length of each episode is inconsistent. Not a huge drawback by any stretch of the imagination but old vintage TV shows had very strict time limitations. So if the show is going for that, might as well stick to a consistent 3 Act structure and the time constraints that come with making a TV broadcast episode.

ii – Although it’s hinted that the show doesn’t actually take place in decades old American history (or does it?), the racial diversity in the show seems too modern for the 1950s sequences and takes you out of the show time and time again. Segregation was unfortunately very prevalent in the US in the 50s so to see the characters mention contempt for the “Bolsheviks/ Communists” but are fine and dandy with a colored person sitting next to them at the dinner table, it’s just odd and the show seems a bit confused as to what it really wants to be. Even in a ‘make believe’ reality, the horrors of history should never be ignored (the perfect example could be the highly underrated 1998 film Pleasantville).

iii – Even after 3 episodes, the mystery of “what reality they are living in” might be a tad bit obvious to loyal MCU fans. Perhaps we all might be rightfully swerved by the end of the season. 

iv – Among all the episodes available, episode 3 was the weakest due to its lack of focus to the overall narrative and the situational comedy slightly overstaying its welcome. But cliffhanger at the end did make up for it I suppose.

+ Overall

WandaVision is fun, eerie and exactly what MCU needed to kick start their ‘Phase 4’ list of films and TV shows. The performances are wonderful by the two main leads and the show proves that Superheroes are not all about “Good Guy vs Bad Guy”. Comics is a medium explored to such vast lengths of ideas and it’s tremendous to see a commercial, crowd pleasing Disney corporation try something very different. Of course, this could all change for better or worst in the review for the next episodes so stay tuned! 

Rate: 4 (subject to change) out of 5 stars