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The 28th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a breathless and fragmented superhero fantasy burdened by the weight of franchise lore.
This sequel to 2016's Doctor Strange finds the titular sorcerer battling multiversal threats, engaging enemies in parallel universes both strange and familiar. The film carries momentum from Spider-Man: No Way Home, delving further into the multiverse and it's multitude of possibilities.
The movie burgeons with intriguing ideas and excessive CGI that strike an uncomfortable balance between solid entertainment and tedium. Director Sam Raimi tries to deliver a cinematic blend of his unique horror-infused visual style within a Marvel approved template. The result is an uneasy alliance of sharp thrills and rich visuals with clunky storytelling, relentless pacing and head-scratching creative choices. The film labors under the pressure of fan-service and expectation, becoming a springboard for franchise evolution. Ultimately, it's the MCU's sprawling and impressively expansive world that proves the biggest hurdle for the film. The extensive franchise lore and links to disparate MCU projects leave the casual viewer in limbo. Regardless, the movie entertains with some impressively crafted sequences, directorial finesse and dark humour.
Flawed and frivolous, Multiverse of Madness is bolstered by a strong principle cast, distinctive visuals and a fairly enjoyable story. It falters as a justifiable standalone feature with purpose and necessity.