Duration: 126 minutes
Plot: The multiverse is jeopardised when someone begins to send demons to capture America Chavez, a supernatural being who can travel through the multiverse. America lands on Earth looking for shelter and finds Doctor Strange, who then reaches out to Wanda asking for help.
Alert for Mild Spoilers
Review: Essentially the entire plot of the film was revealed in the original teaser that was released with Spider-Man: No Way Home and with Marvel's debut series WandaVision. After Vision's death, and the Westview debacle Wanda is left with the book of the dammed and she scours through the multiverse to find her kids, which had been confirmed by the show's post-credit scene.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse Of Madness picks up some time after the events of Spider-Man: No Way Home. The film begins in a different universe, where Stephen Strange is on his way to acquiring the Book of Vishanti alongside America Chavez. The two are being chased by a demon but before getting caught, Chavez manages to use her powers and escape. Meanwhile, Stephen from a different universe wakes up after seeing the same events in a dream. He goes on with his everyday life until America lands right in the middle of New York wreaking havoc in his universe.
With shows like WandaVision and Loki, the hope for creativity was very high for Doctor Strange 2, however, we get the very first plot possibility that popped into the writer's mind for the story. With infinite universes in a horror genre, the Marvel film could have explored the world with characters that actually mean something to the MCU. Instead, we get cameos that will possibly never return or make any impact on the storyline.
For anyone who has watched the animated Marvel series, What If...? Doctor Strange 2 may lose its charm within the first few minutes. Doctor Strange 2 offers lore, expands the possibilities and sets the base for what's to come in the MCU, but it gives nothing for its main characters to work on. Every plot point and character in the film can be reduced to one line and that is never a good sign.
Wanda is craving for her kids, Doctor Strange is pining for Christine - that's it, that's all the film is. America Chavez played by Xochitl Gomez is impressive in the first few minutes of the film, however, very quickly her character gets reduced to 'damsel in distress' status until the plot needs her to do something with no space for development.
Elizabeth Olsen does her best to elevate all aspects of the film, from the thrill, gore to raising the bar for acting all based on four words, - I am a mother. Unfortunately, she is only used as a plot point to get the story across, instead of giving her a chance to live through her emotions. She is thrashed with hate for 95% of the screen time and is given nothing in return for redemption.
The film also offers visual stimulation, enough that even after watching the movie twice or in slow motion you still won't be able to see everything. But it lasts only for a few minutes. Every main sequence is set in a still environment either in New York with little extra CGI, or in a closed room which was just a green screen on sets. None of it is enough to keep the audience hooked till the end. By halftime, you will be looking at your watch waiting for the big twist to come, which never does.
Sam Raimi's direction brings some life into the film with surprising moments. Unfortunately, there are very few and very jump-scary to rely on. They will not change your mind about the 126-minute long run time. We get some much-needed violence and gore in the MCU but it isn't horror when it is immediately countered with some overdramatic and loud comic feels (not comedy- actual comic book feels presented sarcastically). When Stephen says things got out of hand, he is clearly talking about the screenplay.
I began watching the film believing that the story did not take place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Earth 616 is not the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Earth-199999) but the original Marvel Comic Universe. It is the only thing that has kept my faith in the MCU and that Doctor Strange will be redeemed as a franchise. Also, Wong is undoubtedly the best part of the film, but he hardly spends 20 minutes on screen.
Overall, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse Of Madness is a fancier, messier Spider-Man: No Way Home without the great cameos. Earth 616 is not the Marvel Cinematic Universe - is the mantra to use while watching Doctor Strange 2.