Friday, May 20, 2022

Stranger Days

I loved Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness! But then I've been a Sam Raimi fan since I was about 10, and the film is more or less Evil Dead 4 with a Marvel budget.

I found the first film interesting -- not least how it rejects the traditional hero origin narrative -- but I'm not sure I liked it. I very much liked the sequel. It rattles along at a great pace and it's full of fun ideas and bold action and wonderful imagery, leaning away from the almost mathsy weird geometry of the first film and more into liquid dreams and nightmares and horror, which is not surprising given the director. Sam Raimi was an excellent choice.

(Although I would love to see what Guillermo Del Toro would do with Strange; I suspect it would be even better.)

The big fan-pleasing moment in the middle is perhaps the least interesting part, which is a surprise. Still good, but overshadowed by the rest of the film.

It's not perfect. There are some generic cgi bad guys in the finale that look like they've wandered in from a PS3 game. There's also no real character development; America Chavez is introduced but never becomes anything more than a plot device, which is a shame. Strange sort of learns a lesson over the course of the story, but it's handwaved and feels disconnected from the rest of the narrative, suggesting it's a remnant of an earlier draft.

I've seen some comments that the film ruins Wanda and negates WandaVision, and while I see where that criticism comes from, I disagree. I think it follows on from WandaVision without contradiction, but I do think the film wastes the character a little. WandaVision suggested an interesting, and probably extended, story arc for Wanda, one I'd have expected to see developed over multiple films and TV programmes, and while it is sort of addressed in the film, it's almost as a throwaway thing, and it does feel like potential squandered.

All that said, there's nothing to say that the suggested arc couldn't be explored in future, and even if we don't get the Wanda I wanted to see, Elizabeth Olsen does a fantastic job with the Wanda we do get. She's more or less a co-protagonist -- and a very interesting one, but I won't say more for spoiler reasons -- to the point that much as I love the title, Doctor Strange and the Scarlet Witch would perhaps be more apt.

It's not as good as Thor 3 or the Guardians of the Galaxy films, but it's in the top tier of Marvel movies for me. I give it four Crimson Bands of Cyttorak out of five.

No comments:

Post a Comment